France has more combat aircraft, more frigates and more troops than Britain despite spending significantly less on defence, according to the military balance, an annual comparison of the strengths of armed forces around the world by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
In a rare move, General Pierre de Villiers wrote an appeal in French financial daily Les Echos calling for military spending to increase to 2% of GDP over the next five years, including an upgrading of nuclear arsenals, in order to protect France from against "the full spectrum of threats".
French Senate president Gérard Larcher entered office on a high-profile campaign to cut spending and impose budgetary discipline within the French parliament's notoriously lavish upper house. Mediapart this month obtained access to the payroll of the president's private staff, and it reveals anything but austerity. The average monthly salary is 8,500 euros while his principal private secretary earns more than 19,000 euros, just a few hundred euros short of the pay of French Prime Minister François Fillon. Mathilde Mathieu and Michaël Hajdenberg report.