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Alain Juppé, Minister, good news for European defense

Alain Juppé during the presentation of the White Paper "France and Europe in the world" (credit: French Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

The mayor of Bordeaux, the Gaullist Alain Juppé is the new French Minister of Defense, replacing the centrist Hervé Morin. Among all the names that have been in the running lately, he is certainly the man who has the most convictions for Europe, period, and the Europe of Defense in particular. His profile is particularly appreciable as he is number 2 in the government (1st in the protocol order after the Prime Minister). In particular, he will have to manage the commitment in Afghanistan, the implementation of the London agreement on Franco-British cooperation in defense matters as well as monitoring reintegration into NATO. But he will also have to manage crises… and promote Defense Europe, which really needs it.

Strong European convictions

On several occasions on his blog, Alain Juppé has echoed his European convictions. “ Europe is the chance of France and the French in the XNUMXst century. Once again, against all odds, I want to make this European profession of faith. "(read here). Alain Juppé is also, with Jacques Toubon, the author, in 2000, of a Gaullist and quite utopian project of “Constitution for Europe”. Situated halfway between more federalist projects (notably that of Joshka Fischer at the time) or sovereignist projects, it provides for an overhaul of European institutions with the merger of the Council of Ministers and the Commission to give rise to a “real” government. of the Union, appointed for three years, creation of a House of Nations, composed of representatives of national parliaments, election of European deputies in national constituencies, and establishment of a “strengthened partnership” between membership and association agreement for certain neighboring countries.

And enthusiasm for Defense Europe

defense side, Alain Juppé defends progress in this area and appears, if not skeptical, at least doubtful about the reintegration of France into NATO, as he wrote in Le Monde in February 2009, fearing in particular that the American administration is not “ ready to truly share military responsibilities within the Alliance » or questioning the fact that Europeans have « the same vision of European interests within the Alliance » and the desire to move forward for defense Europe (read here). A few months later, when the decision was confirmed, he gave a reminder shot: “ When France returned to the military command of NATO, President Sarkozy clearly indicated that this decision would be accompanied by the strengthening of Europe's own military capabilities. Now is definitely the time. he wrote in September 2009 (read here). In this ministerial position, we will see if Alain Juppé implements this enthusiasm that he has demonstrated, in words, for years.

A downside however. Let us hope that it will not be the same for Alain Juppé's European fervor as for his critical fervor during the conflict in former Yugoslavia. At the time, he castigated the attitude of François Mitterand and in particular his views of the “past” and his sympathy for the Serbs. But once at the ministerial helm, action did not automatically follow. After the fall of the Srebrenica enclave in 1995 (he was then Prime Minister), he supported the idea of ​​airborne intervention of Jacques Chirac's private chief of staff but on one condition – that France was not not alone involved -. The solution was then obvious... the British refusal will mean the failure of this option.

  • Alain Juppé, in a few words. A devotee of Jacques Chirac. Born in August 1945, Alain Juppé had a classic career path as a good, gifted student (Louis-le-Grand, Political Sciences, ENA and financial inspection) but above all he was a Gaullist, close to Jacques Chirac. He thus began his political career as a project manager when he was Prime Minister of Giscard in 1976, followed him to Paris town hall afterwards (with an interlude in the European Parliament from 1984 to 1986), was his spokesperson during the presidential elections of 1988. Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1993 to 1995, he became Prime Minister until 1997 (date of the Treaty of Amsterdam), then “took refuge” in his stronghold of Bordeaux where he was mayor continuously since 1995 (apart from an interlude for ineligibility between 2004 and 2006).

NB: I received several comments on this article praising Alain Juppé or criticizing a portrait deemed too sympathetic. My aim is not to judge the politician on all his actions but to see it through the prism of European Defense. Everyone can have their opinion on the rest of their political, economic or social action. But that is not the point here.

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).