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Hervé Morin: “Europe is becoming a protectorate”

(BRUSSELS2) (In Ghent) “France knows how to lead the debate”. At the informal meeting of Defense Ministers, this maxim was respected. Between two meetings, Hervé Morin came to confide to a few journalists – in one of the crypts of Saint Pierre Abbey – the main elements that were close to his heart in his discussions with the Ministers. In this interview, he did not hide a certain disappointment at the lack of European ambition. “An ambition which is not (only) the sum of the ambitions of States” he indicates. But above all he warns: be careful not to miss this development otherwise we will pass under a Sino-American condominium. Beyond the budgetary and capacity gaps, the Minister also wanted to mark the ground for future developments, starting with Africa or the fight against terrorism.

Where is the European ambition

“States have resigned for the most part on a simple ambition, that Europeans have a military tool allowing them to influence world affairs. At the rate we are at, Europe is gradually becoming a protectorate, and in 50 years we will become the game of the balance of new powers and we will be under a Sino-American condominium. (Today) all countries in the world are rearming while European states are making further budget cuts (on) already extremely weak European budgets in many countries. The question of European capabilities is above all a political question: do the Europeans want to be actors on the international scene or do they want to be actors in a scenario that they do not write?

A real analysis of possible cooperation

"We have to ensure that there is a real analysis of the capacities that we must keep in sovereignty, where we can have cooperation, mutualisation and those for which we accept that they are interdependent - which we are doing in bilateral Franco-German or Franco-British. »

As for the areas on which to develop cooperation, the Minister indicated: “ Transport, tankers, logistics, training, maintenance, training… There is no lack of possibilities. But it takes an impulse, an energy. »

Africa, privileged territory of Europe

“Europe has a particular responsibility, particularly in Africa. We can clearly see that this is an area where NATO cannot intervene. Given our geographic proximity (12-14 km from the European continent), we have a particular responsibility linked to the history of several of our countries. If there is one ambition that Europe must have, it is the emergence of an architecture of peace and security. (…) It is necessary to evaluate and deepen, possibly correct certain actions. Concretely, this means seeing, on the Atalanta mission as on Somalia, what we needed to do more or better: how do we ensure that the pirates are judged and convicted? We have been waiting for two years for the establishment of additional prison capacity courts.

“Nor can Europe be absent from a major subject which is currently the only threat, the threat of the development of terrorism in Africa.

“We are better equipped than anyone for this cooperation with the African continent. Europe has all the instruments at its disposal, including a considerable development aid policy (Europe provides half of the world's development aid). We can have real synergies, complementarities, between our military missions and our civil actions, with the range and tools that the European Union benefits from (diplomatic service, legal service, etc.).

The will, Me Ashton must carry it

“All this can only be done if there is a will, an energy, an ambition carried by the European Union. It is up to Me Ashton, for whom it is the responsibility, to ensure that she is the bearer of a European ambition. An ambition that is not the sum of the ambitions of States. The European collective interest is something else, a transcendence. It is up to Mr. Ashton to carry this ambition, to bring the States around the table as often as necessary and to build these common capacities. We won't always do everything at 27 because we don't all have the same ambitions.

The European Defense Agency criticized?

“The lawsuit against the European Defense Agency, which little is done, is a lawsuit that deserves to be measured against the agency's budget. The budget is 30 million euros. How do you want with 30 million to carry a major industrial ambition? France alone devotes 700 million euros to upstream studies and 1,5 billion euros. How can we blame him for lacking pragmatism in an agency that has less than 20 times our national budget if we don't give him the means. (…) The agency is also under the authority of Me Ashton. It is up to her to give impetus. It is up to the European authorities to carry this ambition…”

Where is the permanent structured cooperation?

“This topic has not been discussed. But it's always the same question: what ambition? If it's to belong to a club, I'm not sure it necessarily leads very far. If it is a question of a permanent structured cooperation which would be the grouping of countries which carry this ambition to be a vanguard; yes, then it is of interest.

And a European army?

“We need European political power…

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

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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