Blog AnalysisEU Defense (Doctrine)

In 2012, alternation and relaunch of European defense (open forum)

(B2 – free forum) Louis Gautier, defense specialist at the PS, sent me a “paper” which contributes to the debate on European defense in the light of the current electoral campaign.

“The euro crisis completely obscures the disease of languor which has affected European defense for several years. The ambition, displayed in the Treaty of Maastricht, affirmed in the Treaty of Nice and reinforced by that of Lisbon, is broken down on three political, military and industrial levels. Today, defense Europe appears devastated. After 2007, no major military or industrial cooperation project, no real progress in the concrete implementation of the CSDP was recorded.

This disaffection is all the more worrying as it signals a fading of the convictions according to which Europeans must collectively take up the challenge of their common destiny in the Union. The divergences of views on Libya, the non-concerted decisions on Afghanistan, the absence of a stabilized position on the DAMB, the centrifugal tendency manifested by the close Franco-British cooperation project are all signals of a worrying weakening of the European spirit of defense. If we add to this the continuation of Europe's budgetary disarmament initiated 20 years ago but reinforced by the crisis, there is every reason to be alarmed.

The 21st century does not protect Europe from danger even if, militarily, it is no longer at the heart of global strategic issues. However, the American military disengagement from the Old Continent, the relative retraction of the United States' posture in the Mediterranean, their eclipsing concerns with regard to Africa should encourage the Europeans to define and ensure more directly certain of their security interests.

Leave the institutional quarrels…

In this regard, the questions arise in the same terms to NATO and the EU: what vision, what concept, what European strategic means? The lack of answers today hampers the proper functioning of NATO as much as the assertiveness of the EU. Therefore, institutional quarrels should remain behind us.

We must still be aware that the consolidation and rationalization of European military capabilities cannot be done without a political project and that this is necessarily located first and foremost in the EU which constitutes the relevant definition framework. Compared to the policy led by Nicolas Sarkozy who turned his back on European defense, the political alternation in France should therefore seek to promote a relaunch of the construction of European defense.

Faced with ambient skepticism, it is not a question of repeating “Defense Europe, Defense Europe” like a mantra but of being above all pragmatic:

  • by continuing efforts to deepen the Franco-British defense relationship but also by reviving Franco-German cooperation and by promoting convergences with all our European partners and in particular the Belgians, the Spanish, the Italians, the Poles who are applicants;
  • by exploring all avenues allowing a rationalization of the military devices of EU member countries: pooling of existing national resources, collective programming of future equipment, specialization of tasks, strengthening of common capabilities, convergence criteria, etc.;
  • by working simultaneously towards the consolidation of the European technological and industrial base, which requires business mergers, support for the aeronautical and defense research effort, choices in terms of selection of skills and capabilities criticism but also attention paid to the conditions of competition on the domestic market and export competition;
  • by acting without exception within the plenary framework of the EU and the CSDP institutions, within NATO in particular to develop European synergies and through “structured” or “ad hoc” multinational cooperation.

In terms of European defense, concrete results must take precedence over the spirit of the system. Someone still needs to rekindle, in France, the European torch extinguished by the headwinds that blew it away during the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy. »

Louis Gautier

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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).

One thought on “In 2012, alternation and relaunch of European defense (open forum)"

  • Mr. Gautier delivers a kind of intentional catalog which is quite similar to what we have been able to read on the subject, within Europe for many years. What would be the events that could cause both an awareness of the fragility of our state and a series of decisions likely to initiate a change...?
    I see within the European geographical whole 2 poles of recurring instabilities; on the one hand the Balkan Europe center whose integration we are told is on the right track and the Mediterranean basin whose southern and eastern shores form the two jaws of the pincers illustrating the present crisis and the one to come….. Who are we? speaks of these difficulties with the evocation of a possible Defense for our countries? A defense structured around means, legitimized by political options and EXPLAINED to the Peoples concerned…..

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