Soon a Brussels branch for the IHEDN

(BRUSSELS2) “ A Brussels office for the Institute for Advanced Studies in National Defense (IHEDN) ". In any case, this is the wish and the objective of General Labaye, director of the IHEDN. " It's necessary - he told me -. We have observed that the influence of France, of its strategic thinking, is slow and struggling to break through on a global level, especially when compared to the influence of our Anglo-Saxon friends. We receive many foreign personalities in Paris. But we are not very present in Brussels », where there is great strategic activity… Before arriving at the creation of a Brussels branch, the IHEDN was slowly introduced to European delicacies through a series of seminars – outside its walls – including the seminar “maritime piracy and EU maritime policy” which takes place on Tuesday and Wednesday in Brussels. And it intends to continue in this vein by organizing a landmark seminar per EU presidency (this should focus on energy security in the first half of 1 under the Spanish presidency.

What French thought brings... For General Labaye, the contribution of French thought “founding thought” is important in the “ search for a new multilateralism ". She brings a different story, a dissonance on certain subjects, well perceived in the rest of the world”. More concretely, if there was a word to sum up the French approach, he specifies, it would be " the global approach ". " We have always said that we need a global approach, that to manage crises, we need not only military instruments – which remain necessary – but also civilian means.. 3/4 of the means of intervention are, in fact, civilians. All our arsenals need to be redesigned to complete our security policy. (...) You need a whole arsenal of devices, we see it for piracy. Tools: military, legal (police, justice), development. (…) And for that, there is nothing like the tool of the European Union. It is in this perspective that France is one of the driving forces behind the ESDP. We have the credibility of crisis management experience in a number of theaters. As soon as there is a new threat, as we have seen for piracy, France is present. Corn nWe want to put together the European means to weigh politically, to have a political thought, not unique or common but joint, to weigh in terms of Europe power.

One could say: It was time! That the IHEDN realize 60 years after the signing of the Treaty of the Atlantic Alliance, more than 50 years after the Treaty of Rome and 10 years after the start of the ESDP, that Brussels is an important place, where we must be present is a big step. But apparently Parisian mentalities are hard to break in this institution which purrs gently in the shadow of the Military School… A little anecdote. Just a few weeks ago, I was for an RV, between two doors, with a prefect – whose name I will not mention out of courtesy -, in his office on the 2nd floor of the IHEDN. But his main question was: “But how do you manage to come from Brussels to Paris?”… Not to mention some rather inappropriate remarks – in the mouth of a prefect – on the nationality of the new Member States… Apparently our prefect was still there Remained in the days of the stagecoaches, the marches du nord and the good times when Napoleon imposed his law on Europe!

Listen rather than teach... To break through in Brussels, the IHEDN may have to show itself a little more “humble“, try to understand how Europe works, to fit in, to stop thinking that Paris is the center of the universe. In short, eliminating a little dust and carrying out a small internal revolution to grasp that Europe is at 27 is a reality, established for a long time. And that France occupies in the EU certainly a place of choice but not really essential. The time when Chirac professed (at a European summit in 2003) “they have lost an opportunity to be silent” against the countries of Central Europe (on their joint letter on the intervention in Iraq) is well and truly over. . The IHEDN will thus have to make a small effort to be open to other opinions, if not divergent, at least which upset a very conventional functioning, without losing its soul. The “Brussels” positioning is at this price. It is not easy. But it is not out of reach… Because apart from certain executives, a little overwhelmed by time, the Institute seems to have high quality internal resources and above all its fabulous experience of mixing and exchanges which do not just waiting to thrive on European soil...

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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