Juppé: Europe must assert itself in the face of crises. Stop the all-inclusive “soft power”

(credit: European Parliament)

(BRUSSELS2 to Strasbourg) Alain Juppé, the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, was present today (15 February) at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Speech before a packed Foreign Affairs Committee (standing, sitting on the steps,… difficult to find a place), then interview with the Commissioner for Enlargement, Stefan Füle; the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, then with the EPP MEPs.

In a very European discourse, ranging from the economic crisis to the Arab Spring, passing through the conflict in Syria (see brief), and European defense policy, he called for a European leap forward, for a " great European ambition to make Europe more assertive in the face of crises. " A real investiture speech for a post of High Representative remarked MEP for the Greens, Hélène Flautre, adding in a mischievous tone. " Although this is not a position for which you are applying. ".

Europe must assert itself more in the face of crises…

The European Union must be allowed to "saffirm in the face of crises explains Alain Juppe. " I have constantly advocated for concrete progress for European defense and in particular for the Common European Security and Defense Policy (CSDP). The Union must draw all the consequences of the reductions in the defense budget by moving towards more pooling. Faced with security threats that are aimed primarily at it, it cannot content itself with soft power. »

For the Minister, the example of Libya is obvious " The intervention in Libya has shown the limits of CSDP. It also highlighted real European leadership in NATO. After listing some of the results (new mission in the Horn of Africa, OpsCenter, etc.) obtained by the Weimar Triangle initiative, the French minister believes that it is necessary to “ continue to move forward, including towards a permanent European Union planning and conduct of operations capability " based on " Catherine Ashton's excellent report » he underlines.

Learning from the Arab Spring

The Minister also acknowledged a certain complacency in the past with compromising regimes. The Arab Spring " showed us: We were wrong to believe that stability, security and the fight against terrorism justified a certain complacency vis-à-vis regimes that ignored the aspirations of peoples to freedom and respect for human rights. of Man. Today, if we know that the road to democracy will be long and demanding, we also know that the aspiration to democracy is universal”. “Without ever compromising on its values, the European Union must support the Arab transitions with all the instruments at its disposal. »

Against a Europe turned in on themselves

More generally, the Minister pleaded for a Europe that does not withdraw into itself, while " Europe is today in turmoil ". " France does not want a European Union which is confined solely to the management of the crisis. Although Europe has finally discovered that it is no longer the center of the world, it must not forget that it remains the world's leading economic power: in the world of tomorrow, it will have a major role to play as a pole of democracy, prosperity and stability. »

… but strongly a reciprocity clause

However, the Minister wanted to be realistic. “In the dialogue between the European Union and its major strategic partners, (France) would like the reciprocity clause to be at the heart of our relations. Our objective is to ensure that the European Union is henceforth concerned about fair competition with the major emerging countries and that it stops considering somewhat naively that the unilateral or asymmetrical opening of the European market would be beneficial in self. This has occasionally helped countries emerging from crisis. But that would be a mistake with big, highly competitive emerging countries like China, India or Brazil.. " he added. " We are awaiting the forthcoming presentation by the Commission of a reciprocity instrument for access to public procurement.

Read also:Bashar will fall and give an account (A. Juppé)

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).