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France wants naval industry co
Florence Parly © Jim Mattis

France wants naval industry co-operation with Italy


France’s armed forces minister has said France is keen to strengthen its naval industry and is pursuing co-operation with Italy in a bid to be a leader in building surface warships.

“I will also push for our defence industry,” Florence Parly said.

“This is one of the catalysts for European defence and one of the motors for the French economy.”

The minister said she wanted to “give our defence industry the means to develop strongly,” particularly within the naval sector.

“That is why I am presently working on forming an alliance between the French and Italian naval industries in the area of surface warships with the ambition of building a world leader.”

Parly was giving the closing speech 5 September at a high-level defence conference in Toulon, France.

“This ambitious project was making progress, with the close co-operation of the companies concerned,” she said, adding that she would further address the subject in the next few weeks.

The French and Italian government have previously agreed that the two countries would reach an agreement by 27 September in an attempt to resolve a dispute over the acquisition of STX, a French commercial shipyard, by Italian state-owned company Fincantieri.

The STX yard at Saint-Nazaire is the only one large enough in France to build an aircraft carrier, prompting concerns over national sovereignty.

Fincantieri, Naval Group and STX could co-operate and become a European leader to compete in the world market for commercial and military shipping, the French and Italian government said after a ministerial meeting in Rome, where they sought to defuse the dispute over ownership of the STX yard.

Naval Group is in discussions with Fincantieri for co-operation on a surface warship, according to a spokesman for the French state-controlled shipbuilder.

The company is also still in talks with the French government and Fincantieri on taking a stake in STX France, a commercial shipyard.

Pan European Networks Ltd