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The place of Defense Europe, for Sarkozy, is… in NATO?

Sarkozy, NATO summit in Lisbon © NGV

(In Lisbon) During his final press conference at the NATO summit, Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president wanted to explain himself on the reintegration of France into the NATO commands. A success, he considers. " 600 officers French » have already integrated the various NATO structures. And France got two commandments "General Abrial and Patrick Auroy”. And he rejects any criticism seeing, on the contrary, a great Coherence between the reintegration of France into NATO, better coordination of efforts between the British and French, and the " strengthening Europe's place in NATO ».

Defense Europe: "Good luck" Mr. Juppé

"Isn't this abandoning the idea of ​​an autonomous defense in the European Union?". So I put this question to the president. And the answer is worth its unfolding. We start with a denial. " I do not believe ". Then Nicolas Sarkozy recognizes a difference of appreciation between French and British on the European will in the agreements of London. " The British preferred to emphasize the bilateral. We, our spirit is the strengthening of Europe. And he believes that by pooling their nuclear forces, this " agreement serves Defense Europe » Admire the pirouette!

He does not, however, deny a difficult reality. " The crisis is not making our job any easier. It puts enormous pressure on our budgets. France invests 377 billion euros in our defense capabilities over the next 10 years (1). Which is not anecdotal. The British do a little more. If the French and the British sign an agreement, it is in the service of European defense. What would this defense Europe be without the French and the British?. » he underlines.

In conclusion, he turns to Alain Juppé: “ All the work of the Minister of Defense will be to convince the others to join us. “And to add:” Good luck ! ".

Comments : a very political semantic shift

All is said ! We can clearly see here the semantic shift of the President of the Republic.

With the very political argument, developed in 2008, consisting in saying that the reintegration of France into the NATO commands would make it possible to strengthen Defense Europe, one could believe that it was the European Union whose we talked. This interpretation was all the more present as the French presidency of the European Union developed the idea of ​​providing the EU with a (small) military HQ, allowing it to carry out autonomous operations, and to strengthen European capabilities ( pooling and sharing were the order of the day).

We realize today that it was an error of interpretation or... a decoy (your choice). For the French president, what must be reinforced is the weight of Europe in the defense organization that is NATO, in other words the European pillar of the Atlantic Alliance. It is not quite the same as the European Union's PeSDC. One could even say that the difference is fundamental. And, indeed one can wish "good luck !" to Alain Juppé to reconcile his personal reflection and the president's analysis

Because what the French president said is fairly consistent with his deep thought. From the "G5" meetings when he was Minister of the Interior to the last discussions with Angela Merkel in Deauville on the treaty, Nicolas Sarkozy has always considered that bilateral discussions between "big" Member States should predominate over the major topics of discussion ( security, currency, defence, etc. in the European Union. A "bilateral" vision not so far from the British in the end...

(1) NB: This sum does not represent investment credits but the total amount of sums spent on defence. The 2011 defense budget is 31,1 billion euros, of which approximately half is for equipment credits (16 billion) and 10o/o for research and development (3,3 billion)

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).

2 thoughts on “The place of Defense Europe, for Sarkozy, is… in NATO?"

  • Thank you for this analysis, with which I however disagree, among other things for the reasons highlighted by v.france in response to the post “The London agreements claim a victim: Defense Europe”. More fundamentally, the urgency today, in the face of an acute and lasting budgetary crisis, is to preserve what can be preserved of European capabilities in the broad sense. The institutional framework does not matter at this stage. But I don't want to be long and repeat what I said elsewhere, on the Ultima Ratio blog:

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