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European Defence: The Challenge of Strategic Autonomy

3 juillet 2019 : European Defence: The Challenge of Strategic Autonomy ( rapport d'information )

Rapport d'information n° 626 (2018-2019) de M. Ronan LE GLEUT et Mme Hélène CONWAY-MOURET, fait au nom de la commission des affaires étrangères, de la défense et des forces armées, déposé le 3 juillet 2019

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No. 626



Filed at the President's Office of the Senate on 3 July 2019



on behalf of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Armed Forces Committee (1) by the Working Group on European Defence,

By Mr Ronan LE GLEUT and Ms Hélène CONWAY-MOURET,


(1) This committee is composed of: Christian Cambon, Chairman; Pascal Allizard, Bernard Cazeau, Robert del Picchia, Sylvie Goy-Chavent, Jean-Noël Guérini, Joël Guerriau, Pierre Laurent, Cédric Perrin, Gilbert Roger, Jean-Marc Todeschini, Deputy Chairpersons; Olivier Cigolotti, Joëlle Garriaud-Maylam, Philippe Paul, Marie-Françoise Perol-Dumont, Secretaries; Jean-Marie Bockel, Gilbert Bouchet, Michel Boutant, Olivier Cadic, Alain Cazabonne, Pierre Charon, Hélène Conway-Mouret, Édouard Courtial, René Danesi, Gilbert-Luc Devinaz, Jean-Paul Émorine, Bernard Fournier, Jean-Pierre Grand, Claude Haut, Gisèle Jourda,  Jean-Louis Lagourgue, Robert Laufoaulu, Ronan Le Gleut, Jacques Le Nay, Rachel Mazuir, François Patriat, Gérard Poadja, Ladislas Poniatowski, Mmes Christine Prunaud, Isabelle Raimond-Pavero,  Stéphane Ravier, Hugues Saury, Bruno Sido, Rachid Temal, Raymond Vall, André Vallini, Yannick Vaugrenard, Jean-Pierre Vial, and Richard Yung.


All European countries wish to preserve peace, that common good of European construction, and we must therefore not miss the historic opportunity for Europe to strengthen its defence due to mistakes, misunderstandings or disagreements that cause us to fall short in addressing the challenges.

After six months of work, dozens of hearings and visits to seven European countries,1(*) we have noted that the building of European defence is clearly underway, although not in the shape of a formal master plan, and much less of a "European army," but rather in the form of a series of progressive, cumulative and multifaceted developments. The conclusions of this report are the result of careful attention to the analyses and needs expressed by our partners. 

Today, European defence rests on two pillars: NATO and the EU. But it needs the support of public opinion in order to construct it before a major crisis forces our hand:

1. With the notable exception of France and the United Kingdom, Europe has given up on providing for its own defence in recent decades. Since the end of the Cold War, this defence has been provided mainly by NATO, and therefore by the United States, whose expenditure devoted specifically to the defence of Europe is estimated at $35.8 billion, which is slightly less than the defence budget of France. These expenditures finance, in particular, the presence of 68,000 personnel from the five branches of the US military. The United States plays a major role in terms of NATO's strategic and tactical nuclear capabilities. 

France plays a key role in defence issues within the European Union. It is imperative for it to strengthen its involvement in NATO, which it re-joined in 2009, with the exception of the Nuclear Planning Group. Since that decision, the post of Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT) has been held by a French general. France is in a key position within NATO to help balance approaches. It is increasingly listened to at NATO, where it has gained credibility because of its participation in Enhanced Forward Presence (EFP), but also by its proven operational competence in external operations (OPEX). It is therefore in a good position to advocate for the strengthening of European defence, not against the United States but with it. Everyone on both sides of the Atlantic can understand that this involves a process of strategic empowerment and a rebalancing of relationships. 

But we must also be firm: the defence of Europe cannot be bought with equipment contracts; that would be contrary to the values ??that have underpinned the exceptional nature of the transatlantic relationship for two centuries. Euro-American solidarity must be unconditional, because its aim is to defend a set of values, our civilisation. Preserving and strengthening the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB) is an essential part of the empowerment process.

2. The terms “strategic autonomy” or “European army” should not be used lightly: these terms are of concern to our partners, because they provoke a fear that the protection of NATO that is considered to be effective might be progressively replaced by a system that is still not clearly defined, and the fear that American disengagement in a virtual sense may end up leading to American disengagement in a real sense.  Many misunderstandings with our European partners also arise from linguistic and semantic differences: we tend to use expressions that are ambiguous or not easily translatable, to which each assigns a different significance. France has long spoken of a "Europe de la défense" [a Europe of defence] - an untranslatable expression that should be replaced by the notion of "European defence," which is also closer to what the majority of the European countries want. 

We must work to strengthen our mutual understanding, so as to create the conditions for increased interdependence; such is the price that we must all share to build European defence. That good faith will also come about through long-term compliance with established commitments.

3. European opinion today basically breaks down into three groups: Europeans concerned about the threat from the east of Europe (Russia), those who are more concerned about instability originating in the south (Africa and the Middle East), and lastly - and this is probably the case for a significant part of public opinion - those who do not feel concerned by any threat at all. It is urgent that we overcome these divisions and generate a shift in public opinion. It is up to European governments to inform the public about the European Union's achievements in the security and defence field, to explain the security-defence continuum, to highlight Europe's strengths rather than always focusing on its weaknesses, and strive to make advances in European defence before we are forced to do so by a major crisis that would make us realise, only all too late, how serious these issues really are.

12 core proposals:

1. Reinforce the commitments of each country and forge the elements of a European defence based on existing initiatives, work must be done for the collective drafting of a European White Paper on Defence, a link that is currently missing in the chain between the EU's Global Strategy, capacity processes, and existing operational mechanisms.

2. Create the conditions to raise the profile of defence issues within the European institutions: a Directorate-General for Defence and Space, or the creation of a post of European Commissioner or Deputy to the High Representative in these domains, and recognition of a “Defence” format of the Council (which currently handles defence issues in its “Foreign Affairs” format).

3. Multiply exchanges and training systems as well as joint military exercises on a Europe-wide basis, as is essential to building a shared strategic culture: at the military level, France should participate in the Erasmus military system, and create a European session on a basis provided by the Institute of Advanced Studies in National Defence (IHEDN) to develop a common strategic vision for future decision-makers. Gradually increase the admissions capacity at the écoles de guerre (war colleges) to facilitate the joint training of officers. On the political front, step up our contact with our European partners, for example by setting up a European Defence Summer School, which should provide a forum for reflection and parliamentary exchange. 

4. As a result of Brexit, create a new position at NATO of Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), which will be assigned to a representative of an EU Member State (in addition to the existing post, traditionally held by a representative of the UK).

5. Better articulate European capacity planning processes, rendering them cyclical and consistent with the long-established, structured process of NATO. 

6. Relaunch the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) by concentrating resources where the European Union can provide the greatest added value, as is the case in Africa thanks to the EU's “global approach, combining a military component with diplomatic, economic and development assistance components. Expand the resources allocated to the recently created Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC).  

7. Defend the budget proposed for the European Defence Fund (EDF) in the next multiannual financial framework 2021-2027, i.e. €13 billion. These credits will need to be granted to projects of excellence chosen for their contribution to European strategic autonomy and the consolidation of the EDTIB, and not allocated in small amounts to a variety of recipients in view of promoting cohesion. Ensure that the EDF serves only the industrial interests of Europe. Plan a project specifically focused on Artificial Intelligence, a crosscutting concern that may also involve States with few or no defence industries. 

8. Act to the extent possible to ensure that Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) is an approach capable of filling the capability gaps of the European Union, consistent with the White Paper proposed above, and reaffirm the binding nature of the commitments made by States in that framework, particularly with regard to their procurement strategies, which must be favourable to the development of the EDTIB.

9. Clarify the functioning of Article 42 (7) of the Treaty on European Union by assigning an informational and coordinating role to a specific EU body, for example the High Representative. Conduct an upstream analysis of the possibilities for the activation of this article, as well as the procedures for providing the assistance requested (in consideration of the lessons learned from France's activation of the article in 2015).

10. Propose as a top priority for the EU the establishment of a defence and security treaty with the UK, as a vital partner of European defence to which we must offer flexible solutions to enable it to participate as much as possible in EU systems (EDF, PESCO, Galileo, etc.).

11. Major Franco-German industrial projects are key elements in the future of European defence. But for those projects to succeed, we must be frank and candid in our discussions with our German partner, because unless we have a clear agreement on export rules and maintain a balanced industrial distribution in the long term - in other words, unless legal and economic security is ensured - these projects will not be able to continue. These projects must serve as a starting point to allow other European partners to join in and help build a veritable European consortium. 

12. Preference and encouragement should be given to flexible mechanisms, both inside and outside the EU, i.e., spontaneous cooperation or pooling mechanisms, similar to those established with regard to military air transport (EATC), whose underlying principle should be extended to other areas (helicopters and medical support, for example). 


?ôé ôïß ðïôå ê?íôßïò ?óó?

“Truly a day will come when you will have to face the foe.”

Herodotus, Histories, VII, 141

European defence is like the proverbial glass: some say the glass is half empty; others say it is half full. The work conducted by your rapporteurs these past six months has inevitably brought them to the side of the optimists, those who see the glass half-full and filling. Faced with the erosion of multilateralism and the increasingly uninhibited attitudes of the great powers, Europe is in a difficult position in terms of its defence. And yet, at no time since the Second World War has it held such a good hand.

With the notable exceptions of France and the United Kingdom, each of which ultimately developed nuclear weapons, Europe gave up on providing for its own defence in the second half of the twentieth century. This was due on the one hand to the political, material and moral weakening caused by the two World Wars, and on the other to the fact that starting in 1945, the continent became a space that was disputed between the United States and the USSR in the Cold War.

In spite of this very specific context, the question of Europe's security has remained central. In particular, it was one of the reasons behind European integration, born out of the resolve of the six founding countries to make any new war between them impossible. This goal has been brilliantly achieved. Other threats have emerged or become stronger, however. The question of European defence is thus hardly a new one. It has been and will remain an objective for the future, shared among the peoples of Europe, whether their governments make it a priority or not. From this perspective, it is likely that in the future when we look back on history we will see the end of this decade as a turning point in the process of European construction.

More than any other, the defence field is characterised by its ties with national sovereignty, thus making it deeply political, but this political nature is not shaped by the domestic agendas of the leaders of the European countries: it is above all the result of geopolitical pressures, pressures over which those who govern our democracies for a limited period of time have little control.

As your rapporteurs conducted their work over these six months, the ambivalence of the pressures weighing upon Europe have appeared clearly to them: on the one hand, Europe finds itself facing its responsibilities as the non- European powers become increasingly uninhibited in their actions; on the other, the difficulty of the situation requires it ever more urgently to rouse itself from its inaction as a geopolitical entity. Otherwise, it will soon fall into a kind of vassalage, which, informed by the work they have now completed, your rapporteurs do not believe to be really accepted in any of the European countries.

The spotlight constantly cast upon the tensions and divergences between the European governments obscures the significant collective convergence of ideas amongst Europeans on some fundamental issues. It also fails to take into consideration both the shared destiny that unites us and the awareness of that shared destiny among the various European peoples.

The subject of European defence has been the focus of many reports, conferences, and a variety of studies, many of which are of very high quality. The aim of this report is not to provide a synthesis of these works, but to situate the French perspective in the wider European context, which, while it is very well known and has been abundantly described by specialists on the issue, has been largely ignored in our domestic debates. It would certainly be an unusual approach to simply assert a vision of European defence without looking into what our European partners might think. Yet this is precisely what we have been doing for quite some time now. It might have been understandable back in the 1960s, when France was seeking to set itself apart from its partners, but today, how can we think of building European defence without listening to and trying to understand the points of view of other European countries?

In this respect, the situation is very clear. For all of our European partners, and most French specialists as well, it is an obvious fact that the defence of Europe today is provided essentially by NATO, which is to say, in more concrete terms, by the United States of America.2(*) Nevertheless, France has expressed its vision in a way that has sometimes led our partners to perceive it as harbouring a desire to disengage from the United States. Clearly, the fact that our position is perceived in this way casts confusion over what we are saying about the necessity of strategic autonomy for Europe. The difficulty we have had in hearing and understanding our partners' points of view has weakened the credibility of our proposals and, to put it simply, harmed our interests.

France is right in asserting that in the face of rising threats, Europe will need to be able to defend itself, protect its interests, and protect its citizens. But all the other European countries are also right to observe that in the short term, Europe is unable to defend itself without the help of the United States. Denying this obvious state of affairs, as we sometimes appear to be doing when we suddenly introduce certain poorly-defined concepts into the debate, inspires incomprehension or even concern among our partners. In the discussions your rapporteurs have held with their foreign contacts, however, the convergences largely outweigh the differences. We are therefore often wasting precious time and energy attempting to explain, justify and defend our positions, when these positions ultimately are not unacceptable to our partners.

This report aims to show how, through a host of initiatives of all kinds (political, institutional, industrial, operational, etc.), the European countries have now entered a new phase, which is possible only because there is in fact a rising global awareness that the international context has changed.

The first major element of this change is the growing tension between the United States and China. Seeing China as its main strategic competitor, and Southeast Asia as its main focus, the United States has made it quite clear that Europe, in contrast, is not its strategic priority. As was emphasised several times in the hearings conducted by your rapporteurs, this new course predates the election of Donald Trump as the President of the USA. Rather, it was Barack Obama who was the first to define this “strategic pivot”, and while this vision may have been expressed more vigorously under President Trump, the fact is that two successive presidents from two different political parties have now shared it, which obliges us to consider it as a permanent change. Even our European partners who are most committed to the transatlantic bond are aware of this, but they also point out that Europe is unable to defend itself without the United States for the time being, and thus conclude that it is essential to avoid doing anything that might weaken that American protection.

The second element in this context is the interventionist attitude of Russia. This was initiated with the Russo-Georgian war of 2008 and has inched closer to European territory with the intervention in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea in 2014. But the renewed use of Russian force also manifested itself in Syria, where Russia rescued the regime of Bashar al-Assad, which was about to be overthrown. This new posture has now been displayed around all the borders of Europe through an air and naval presence that is akin to a constant show of force. Added to this have been its disinformation, cyber-attack and espionage activities, whether for intelligence purposes or for violent ends, such as the murder attempt on dissident Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom. This conduct on Russia's part has reinforced the conviction of many European countries that the threat on Europe's Eastern flank makes a continued American presence essential. These same countries consider that the primary strategic objective of Russia is to detach the United States from the European continent so that it can then have free rein. This prospect explains the concerns felt in these countries when there are episodes of tension between Europeans and Americans.

The third contextual element is the development of threats on the Southern front. These are of two kinds. On the one hand, European countries have in recent years experienced a series of unprecedented jihadist terrorist attacks. On the other, the civil war in Iraq and Syria, aggravated by the emergence of the caliphate of the Islamic State (IS), has generated a considerable flow of migrants towards Europe. Likewise, the collapse of the Libyan State following the Western intervention there has facilitated the establishment of criminal networks focused on Europe, profiting in particular from human trafficking and the exploitation of migrants trying to enter Europe. Finally, the weakening of the States in the Sahel-Saharan Strip (SSS) has made that area a base for jihadist networks and organised crime, with the two sometimes overlapping.

However, if the terror attacks that have hit France since 2015 have taught us anything, it is that the situation in the Near and Middle East and in Africa has direct consequences for the security of European countries. The idea of ??a “Fortress Europe” to which the European countries might retreat while remaining indifferent to the violence impacting the neighbouring countries is completely illusory. From this perspective, then, the issue of European defence is not a matter for long-term theoretical political debate; it is a matter of practical inquiry, and one that is quite likely to have a concrete impact.

European countries face significant challenges. The hardships they have overcome in the past have given them the strength to defend our freedom, our values ?and our way of life. Your rapporteurs are convinced that the political will exists to take action both together and with our allies, but in order to do so, we must listen to what our European partners are saying:

“Your own eyes might convince you of the truth,

If but for one moment you could look at me.”3(*)


The work done by your rapporteurs follow on from your Committee's previous information report on the same subject, entitled “Pour en finir avec `l'Europe de la défense' - Vers une défense européenne”, dated 3 July 2013.4(*) This report denounced the notion of a “Europe of Defence” as a conceptual dead-end that must urgently discarded by building a real “European defence,” which it deemed an “imperious necessity.”

Despite undeniable progress made towards a European defence in recent years, this observation remains a topical one.



If “European defence” is understood to refer to all the military resources able to be implemented jointly or in a coordinated manner by the countries of the continent, whether within the framework of the European Union or outside it, then it is clear that this European defence plays only a secondary role in the collective defence of Europe today.

1. The slow gestation of European defence poses no challenge to the preponderant role of the Americans

The history of European defence began with a resounding failure: that of the European Defence Community (EDC), rejected by France on 30 August 1954. It marked the failure of the idea of a “European army”: the treaty signed on 27 May 19525(*) was intended to establish “a European defence community, supranational in character, consisting of common institutions, common armed forces and a common budget” (Article 1). This European army, placed under the command of NATO, was to provide a way to permit the rearmament of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG).

The idea of ??a European army has never recovered from this initial failure and seems unlikely to do so any time in the near future.

a) The birth of European defence...

After the Second World War and throughout the Cold War, in the face of the Soviet threat, Western Europe placed itself under the protection of the United States. The interests of these two entities (Western Europe and the United States) were very close at the time, even identical, and in the aftermath of the war, their respective resources were completely out of proportion.

The establishment of the Western European Union (WEU) by the Paris Accords (1954), in the wake of the Western Union established by the Brussels Treaty (1948) and after the failure of the European Defence Community (EDC), did not bring this into question. Always in the shadow of NATO, in spite of a certain revitalisation in the 1980s, the WEU remained in the background until it began to be rivalled in the pursuit of its objectives by the European Union, which finally prevailed, since the WEU was ultimately dissolved in 2011.

After the Cold War, the question of the collective defence of the territory and population of the European continent retreated to the background with the collapse of the Soviet bloc, in the absence of a clearly identifiable threat.

This strategic breakthrough enabled the (at least provisional) emergence of the components of a new security architecture, as illustrated by:

- The creation of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE): took over in 1994 from the Conference for Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) which had been created by the Final Act of the Helsinki Conference (1975). The end of the Cold War seemed to have opened a new era of cooperation: “the era of confrontation and division in Europe is over,6(*) was the belief at the time.

- The signing of a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and Russia (1994);

- The establishment of cooperation between NATO and Russia, which resulted in the NATO-Russia Founding Act of 1997 and the creation of the NATO-Russia Council in 2002.

At the same time, however, European countries were made acutely aware of the need to be able to intervene in their immediate environment, and possibly to do so without the Americans.

The wars in Yugoslavia, which killed about 150,000 people in 10 years (1991-2001) on the European Union's doorstep, were quite revealing in regard to Europe's inability to act outside NATO, i.e., without the United States. The agreements that ended the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1995 were signed at Dayton, in the United States, symbolising the paralysis of the European countries in the face of the biggest conflict waged on the continent since the end of the Second World War. And once again, it was ultimately the intervention of NATO that put an end to the war in Kosovo twenty years ago.

This collective European failure was the shock that led to the emergence of a common security and defence policy for the EU in the 1990s.

It took a major crisis with a considerable cost in human lives to allow some slow progress to be made and that progress is still incomplete, despite other crises that have given rise to phases of acceleration (Crimea, Ukraine).

While it may be legitimate for progress to be made in this way, in response to each successive crisis revealing the changes in the strategic environment, it would nevertheless be desirable to anchor the ambition for an autonomous European defence in a robust long-term process, and not to wait for another major crisis to erupt on the continent in order to achieve tangible results.

In 1992, with the Petersberg Declaration, the countries of the Western European Union (WEU) decided it would be possible to conduct certain military missions with a limited scope, acting in co-operation with NATO or the EU. These so-called “Petersberg” missions include the following:

- humanitarian missions or evacuation of nationals;

- peacekeeping missions;

- missions undertaken by combat forces for crisis management, including peace-making operations.

The Maastricht Treaty, which came into force in 1993, introduced the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) as the second pillar of the EU. In particular, the Amsterdam Treaty (1997) assigned to the CFSP the “progressive framing of a common defence policy, which might to lead to a common defence,” with the objective of carrying out Petersberg missions: ”Questions referred to in this Article shall include humanitarian and rescue tasks, peacekeeping tasks and tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peace-making.” (Article 17 of the Treaty on European Union in force at the time).

So since the 1990s, Europe has sought to organise itself so as to be able to manage crises on its own by acquiring a “capacity for autonomous action,”7(*) also referred to as an “operational capacity” (Article 42 TEU). It has thus gradually built up an ambition for “strategic autonomy.8(*)

In spite of the clause stipulating solidarity amongst European countries established under Article 42 paragraph 7 of the Treaty on European Union (see below), this “strategic autonomy” remains a limited concept. Article 42 of the Treaty on European Union, which has replaced and supplemented Article 17, makes clear, indeed, that “the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation [...] for those States which are members of it, remains the foundation of their collective defence and the forum for its implementation.”

In the course of their travels, your rapporteurs noted that in all the countries they visited,9(*) it was considered obvious and necessary for NATO to be the cornerstone of European collective defence.

b) no way questioned the preponderant role of NATO...

During the Cold War, NATO devoted itself to its core mission: collective defence, on the basis of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty signed in Washington in 1949, which recently had its seventieth anniversary. This clause, which states that an attack against one of the allies is an attack against all of them, has been invoked only once: by the United States, after the attacks of 11 September 2001. At the time when this Treaty was signed in Washington, the signatory member countries wished to ensure that the United States would automatically come to their aid if one of the signatories were ever attacked. But the United States opposed the notion of automatic action, and thus Article 5 was drafted accordingly.

Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty

“The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all; and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

“Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.”

The NATO Strategic Concept (2010) reaffirmed the strength of this commitment: “NATO members will always assist each other against attack, in accordance with Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. That commitment remains firm and binding. NATO will deter and defend against any threat of aggression, and against emerging security challenges where they threaten the fundamental security of individual Allies or the Alliance as a whole.”

This collective defence is ensured up to and including at the nuclear level, with a preponderant role assigned to the American deterrent force, and complementary roles to the French and British deterrent forces: “The supreme guarantee of the security of the Allies is provided by the strategic nuclear forces of the Alliance, particularly those of the United States; the independent strategic nuclear forces of the United Kingdom and France, which have a deterrent role of their own, contribute to the overall deterrence and security of the Allies.”10(*)

The activities of the Alliance were diversified after the end of the Cold War (collective defence, crisis management and security cooperation), but are now being refocused on collective defence so as to confront the “arc of instability” at its periphery.

From the outset, there has been an implicit sharing of tasks in relations between the EU and NATO. The 1998 French-British Saint-Malo declaration already emphasised the ability of the European Union to act where the Alliance as a whole is not engaged via “suitable military means (European capabilities pre-designated within NATO's European pillar or national or multinational European means outside the NATO framework).”11(*) The role of the EU in the defence domain was therefore conceived from the outset as complementary, or, one might say, even subsidiary to NATO, so as to avoid any unnecessary duplication of efforts.

The “Berlin Plus” arrangements (2003) consolidated this complementarity, permitting the EU to use NATO planning and operational capabilities in operations in which NATO is not engaged as such. It was on the basis of these arrangements that the NATO operation in Macedonia was transferred to the European Union starting in April 2003, as was NATO's operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina at the end of 2004.

The 2016 Warsaw NATO Summit resulted in an enhancement of EU-NATO relations, on a more balanced basis than had been established under the “Berlin Plus” agreements. This summit led to the adoption of a joint EU-NATO declaration,12(*) followed by the adoption of 74 common measures in 7 areas of cooperation (hybrid threats, operations, cybersecurity, capabilities, research, exercises, assistance to third countries). This development confirmed, however, that the continent's collective defence, or, for that matter, what is known as “high-spectrum” defence, is primarily a matter for NATO:

“Furthermore, although what I'm going to say isn't written in it, this joint declaration has indeed reaffirmed three basic principles: collective defence is mainly the responsibility of NATO; there will be no European army; and there will be no duplication of the command structures established within NATO. These principles were consistently brought up in every meeting held amongst the Defence Ministers, which NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and European High Representative Federica Mogherini were mutually invited to attend. These principles are laid out in the minutes. They form the basis of cooperation between NATO and the European Union.”13(*)

EU-NATO relations

2001 marked the beginning of institutionalised relations between NATO and the EU, based on the measures taken in the 1990s to promote greater European responsibility in the defence field (co-operation between NATO and the Western European Union).

The NATO-EU Declaration on European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) adopted in 2002 defined the political principles underlying the relationship, and confirmed that the EU would have guaranteed access to NATO planning capabilities for purposes of its own military operations.

In 2003, the “Berlin Plus” arrangements established the foundations necessary for the Alliance to support EU-led operations in which NATO as a whole was not engaged.

At the 2010 Lisbon Summit, the Allies emphasised their determination to strengthen the NATO-EU strategic partnership. With the 2010 Strategic Concept, the Alliance committed to working more closely with other international organisations to prevent crises, manage conflicts, and stabilise post-conflict situations.

In July 2016 in Warsaw, the two organisations prepared a list of areas in which they sought to intensify their cooperation, given the common challenges facing them to the east and south: combating hybrid threats, increasing resilience, defence capacity building, cyber-defence, maritime security, exercises, etc. In December 2016, NATO Foreign Ministers endorsed 42 measures aimed at furthering cooperation between NATO and the EU in those areas. Further areas of cooperation were decided upon in December 2017 as well.

NATO and the EU currently have twenty-two members in common.


This implicit “sharing of tasks” that is inherent to the EU-NATO strategic partnership, even if it is merely a didactic simplification, remains useful today, based on certain standard ideals, especially those of “collective defence” and “crisis management.” The boundary between collective defence, crisis management and security cooperation (the three missions of NATO) has indeed been blurred, along with the distinction between State and non-State threats.

c) ...nor the role of the United States as Europe's defence partner

The United States does not provide “90 per cent” of the NATO budget, as US President Donald Trump has claimed, but “only” 22.1 per cent of the organisation's budget. The other two primary contributors are Germany (14.7%) and France (10.5%).

But above all, the United States reproaches European countries for not progressing quickly enough towards NATO's 2024 targets - military spending increased to 2% of GDP, 20% of which is to be allocated to major equipment - which supposedly makes them “freeloaders” (the President of the United States would even have preferred this effort to be increased to 4%).

The United States, meanwhile, devotes 3.4% of its GDP to defence, i.e., $605 billion, which is equal to two-thirds of the military expenditure of all NATO countries combined,14(*) and about one-third of the worldwide total for all military budgets. In 2018, defence spending in the United States was increased by an amount (+$44 billion) itself equivalent to Germany's entire defence budget.

Within this gigantic US military budget, spending specifically devoted to the defence of Europe is estimated at $35.8 billion in 2018,15(*) or 6% of the total... which is almost as much as the entire defence budget of France (€35.9 billion in 2019).

These expenses are divided between:

- Financing the US presence on the European continent ($29.1 billion), i.e., 68,000 personnel from the five branches of the US military, including about 35,000 in Germany, where the United States European command is located (EUCOM Stuttgart). For the record, in the 1960s there were 400,000 US Army personnel in Western Europe, and 200,000 still in the 1980s.

- The American contribution to NATO ($6.7 billion).

Since 2014, as part of assurance measures implemented by NATO, the United States has increased its presence in Europe via a budget programme known as the “European Deterrence Initiative” (EDI),16(*) which has provided it with funding for Operation “Atlantic Resolve,” (OAR) in favour of the countries of Eastern Europe (Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania).

The funding of the EDI has steadily increased, from $1bn in 2014 to $6.5bn in 2019. This budget is devoted to strengthening the rotating presence of American forces in Europe, military exercises, the improvement of pre-positioned infrastructure and equipment and, lastly, the strengthening of partner countries' capabilities.

Of course, these figures do not cover all the resources that the United States earmarks for the protection of Europe.

Other aspects of the American contribution to the defence of Europe merit mention here as well:

- As noted above, the United States plays a special role in NATO's strategic nuclear capability, while the United Kingdom and France play complementary roles (France has no nuclear weapons assigned to NATO and is not a member of NATO's Nuclear Planning Group).17(*)

Furthermore, “nuclear sharing” arrangements are in place, which provide for US tactical nuclear weapons to be stationed in several European countries. Though this information is not public knowledge, 5 NATO countries are generally considered to be host countries for these nuclear weapons: Germany, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey. The number of weapons stored in these countries is estimated at 140. As a reminder, during the Cold War, when the United Kingdom and Greece were also host countries, the estimated number of these weapons on the continent exceeded 7,000. The weapons currently in place are B61 bombs. They are intended for use by the air forces of the host country with the agreement of the United States and the host country (via the double-key principle).

More precisely:

“On most of the bases, the weapons are stored under the responsibility of US support units. Bomber fighters from the host country are assigned and pilots trained to deploy these free-fall weapons if the decision is made to use them. Germany thus maintains its 33rd Fighter Bombers Squadron for this mission, equipped with Tornado PA-200 aircraft. The Netherlands and Belgium have dedicated F-16 crews (10th Tactical Wing for Belgium, 312th and 313th Squadrons of the RNAF). In Italy, the Tornado PA-200s of the 6th Stormo wing have the capacity to carry B61s as well. At Aviano (Italy) and Incirlik (Turkey), it would a priori be American planes that would be responsible for carrying these weapons.”18(*)

This issue of nuclear sharing is fundamental in an analysis of the procurement policies of the air forces of the countries concerned and, for the future, for the scaling of the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) project.

Estimated number of nuclear weapons in Europe (2018)

Source: The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (as per SIPRI).

- At the request of the United States, NATO is gradually deploying a ballistic missile defence system. This is intended as a response to the Iranian threat and has contributed to a deterioration of relations with Russia. The system includes a major American contribution, decided on in 2009:19(*) a radar system in Turkey, sites in Romania and Poland, and 4 AEGIS anti-missile frigates based in Spain.

- American supremacy is particularly noticeable in certain areas: strategic transport, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (heavy drones in particular), and refuelling.

Finally, a study was conducted that estimated the cost of the investments that NATO countries would have to make on the purely theoretical assumption of a United States exit from the Organisation, in order to be able to respond to two particular conflict scenarios:20(*)

- 1st scenario: a challenge to the security of European sea lanes: in this case, the capacity deficit generated by the departure of the United States from NATO would force the European countries to invest between $94 billion and $110 billion to provide for their own maritime security;

- A scenario in which Article 5 is triggered in the context of a conflict on the Eastern flank of NATO (occupation by Russia of Lithuania and part of Poland).21(*) In this case, to be able to deal with the situation, the European NATO members would have to invest between $288 billion and $357 billion to fill the capacity gaps created by an American withdrawal.

These amounts are not unachievable, since if European NATO countries were to meet the 2% of GDP target, they would already be spending an additional $102 billion per year.

This study thus highlights the implications of the debate on strategic autonomy. It suggests that the debate be refocused on the issue of capability gaps rather than on institutional mechanisms.

“As for the strategic autonomy that France seeks,” said many of our interviewees, “nobody knows what it means.” Autonomy does not mean strategic independence; it is a relative notion, in itself insignificant without a definition of the degree of autonomy sought, the investments to be used to achieve that autonomy, and the timetable for its attainment - in other words, unless there is a roadmap for strategic autonomy.

Ultimately, many of our European partners share the opinion of Wolfgang Ischinger, President of the Munich Security Conference:

“There have been lots of sound bites about the strategic autonomy of Europe. But I don't think it's the right way to go. Our reliance on US military capabilities is absolutely necessary for the security of Germany and Europe in the short, medium and long term. We are blind, deaf and powerless without our American partner.”22(*)

2. This is a reality that France must take into account, despite its unique situation in Europe

In view of this dependence on the Americans, France appears as an exception within its environment, having been building its defence apparatus since the 1960s with the aim of national independence.

a) The end of the “French exception” in NATO

When it was created, France actively supported NATO so as to definitively involve the United States in the defence of Europe and thus preserve peace. The headquarters of NATO was then set up in France, until General de Gaulle's 7 March 1966 decision to cease France's participation in the Organisation's integrated command structure whilst still remaining within the Alliance.

This unique situation came to an end in 2009, when President Nicolas Sarkozy decided to restore France's participation in the integrated structures with the notable exception of the Nuclear Planning Group.

Thus, “by its return to the NATO Integrated Military Command in 2009 while preserving its special status in the nuclear domain, France fully acknowledged NATO's role in European defence.”23(*)

President François Hollande maintained this approach. In 2012, in a report24(*) on this subject, Hubert Védrine, former Foreign Affairs Minister, took the position that a new exit was not possible, whatever the benefits of France's return to NATO's integrated command, which he deemed to be mixed:

“France's (re)exit from the integrated military command is not an option. Nobody would understand it in the United States or in Europe, and it would not give France any new leverage - quite the contrary in fact. It would instead ruin any possibility France has for action or influence with any other European partner in any area whatsoever. Furthermore, from 1966 to 2008, that is, in more than 40 years, not a single European country ever expressed support for France's position on independence.”

If a certain French exception still remains in NATO, it has only to do with the status of our deterrent force.

b) Strategic autonomy and nuclear deterrence

Of all the countries of the European Union and the European partners of NATO, France is the only one to pursue an aim of national independence within the framework of defence cooperation, although without ruling out certain interdependencies, as underlined in the Defence and National Security Strategic Review of December 2017.

Even the United Kingdom, also a nuclear power and our most similar partner within Europe, has seen its striking force as being closely linked to that of the United States and the NATO framework since the 1962 Nassau Agreement.

This significant difference in strategic culture is a parameter that must be taken into account in the dialogue on strategic autonomy at the European level.

Semantics is a problem in itself. The term “deterrence” is not understood the same way everywhere in Europe: in NATO, for example, this concept refers to a set of measures, in the conventional field as well, that are intended to require any adversary to face risks that will outweigh any potential gain. In German, the word “Abschreckung” (deterrence), which is associated with the words “fear” and “fright,” has a very negative connotation. European public opinion is generally not very familiar with the French concept of deterrence, i.e., the idea of ??defensive nuclear weapons, the purpose of which is to inflict damage that would be unacceptable to the enemy, one of the characteristics of which is that they are always ready to be used, so that they will never have to be used. In this sense, nuclear arms are a fundamentally political weapon.

“For France, nuclear arms are not intended to gain an advantage in a conflict. Because of the devastating effects of nuclear weapons, they have no place in any offensive strategy; they are seen only as part of a defensive strategy. Deterrence is also what permits us to preserve our freedom to act and make decisions under all circumstances (...). It is the supreme responsibility of the President of the Republic to constantly assess the character of our vital interests and of any attacks to which they may be subject.”25(*)

In 1992, however, President François Mitterrand did raise the question of the relationship between French deterrence and European defence, asking, in the aftermath of the Maastricht Treaty: “Would it be possible to imagine a European doctrine (of deterrence)? That is going to be one of the big questions in terms of building a common European defence.”

In 1995, at the Chequers Summit, France and the United Kingdom jointly affirmed that any situation that might arise threatening the vital interests of either one of their two nations would be considered a threat to the vital interests of the other as well.26(*)

The issue was brought up time and again in the following years by all the Presidents of the French Republic:

- Jacques Chirac: “The development of the European Security and Defence Policy, the growing integration of the interests of the countries of the European Union, and the solidarity that now exists between them, make the French nuclear deterrent, by its mere presence, an essential element in ensuring the security of the European continent.” (Ile Longue speech, 19 January 2006);

- Nicolas Sarkozy: “It is a fact that by their mere presence, French nuclear weapons are a key part of Europe's security. Any aggressor that might consider challenging Europe would have to take them into consideration.” (Cherbourg speech, 21 March 2008);

- And François Hollande as well: “The definition of our vital interests cannot be limited simply to the national level, because France does not see its defence strategy as existing in a vacuum, even when it comes to nuclear arms. We have expressed this position many times to the United Kingdom, with which we have established an unparalleled degree of cooperation. We are participating in the European project, and have built a community of destiny with our partners; the existence of a French nuclear deterrent makes a strong and essential contribution to Europe. Furthermore, France stands in solidarity with its European partners, a solidarity that is both in fact and in feeling. Who then could ever dream that any attack seeking to threaten the survival of Europe would have no consequences? That's why our deterrent force goes hand in hand with the constant strengthening of the Europe of Defence. But our deterrent force ultimately belongs to us alone - it is we who make the decisions about it, and it is we who must assess the state of our own vital interests.” (speech given at Istres, 19 February, 2015).

Your rapporteurs asked about the European aspect of the French deterrent force in the European countries they visited, for example by framing the question as follows: By advocating strategic autonomy for Europe, is France seeking to place all its partners under its “nuclear umbrella”? While pointing out the abovementioned statements, tending to give a European dimension to what are identified as the “vital interests” of France, your rapporteurs also reminded the interviewees of the fundamental principles underlying the French deterrent force, a component of our national sovereignty, the deployment of which is exclusively its own responsibility, and must remain the sole prerogative of the President of the French Republic.

Although rarely debated in France, the idea of ??the Europeanisation of the French deterrent force is nevertheless gaining momentum around Europe, though there is no consensus on the matter. The proponents of this course of action suggest that it might be possible to permit “double key” nuclear sharing arrangements with France on the model of those now in place with the United States, or to institute a contribution from Germany, or from a group of several EU countries, to help provide funding for the French deterrent force.27(*) In 2017, the services of the Bundestag determined that strictly from a legal perspective there would be no obstacles to the potential establishment of such a financial contribution.

Wolfgang Ischinger, chairman of the Munich Security Conference, believes for his part that sharing the financial burden of deterrence would not be incompatible with maintaining the current pattern where deployment is exclusively under the authority of the President of the French Republic:

“In the medium term, the question of a Europeanisation of French nuclear potential is indeed a very good idea. It is a matter of knowing if and how France might be willing to strategically place its nuclear capacity at the service of the European Union as a whole. Concretely speaking: the options for an engagement of nuclear force by France would need to cover not only its own territory, but also the territory of its partners in the European Union. In return, we would need to define what the European partners could bring to the table for this purpose, so as to achieve a fair distribution of contributions. However: any possible use of nuclear weapons could not ultimately be decided by an EU committee. This decision would need to remain up to the French President. And we would have to accept that responsibility!28(*)

It is nevertheless quite premature to discuss any possible sharing by France of its nuclear deterrent force. The voices that have been raised in this regard are alone and are not representative of any majority of political forces or public opinion amongst our European partners.

It must be borne in mind, however, that for a number of observers, particularly in countries that rely on the supreme guarantee of US nuclear forces, such a debate might be considered to follow logically as a consequence of France's active engagement in favour of the strategic autonomy of the EU.


1. The historical role of the United States in Europe since the Second World War

Since 1945, Europe has been in a situation that has never occurred since the fall of the Roman Empire: it has largely lost its responsibility for defending itself. Several countries in Eastern Europe underwent Soviet domination from 1945 to the 1980s, which for half a century deprived them of the possibility of determining their own defence policy. In Western Europe, in the context of the Cold War, the European countries by and large placed themselves under US protection, in the framework of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) created by the Washington Treaty of 4 April 1949.

Only two countries have chosen to maintain an autonomous capacity to defend their vital interests by rapidly acquiring nuclear arms: the United Kingdom (which has had nuclear weapons since 1952) and France (which has had them since 1960).

Even today, the United States accounts for about two-thirds of NATO efforts. The situation now, however, is that faced with the growing challenge of China's hyper-power status, the United States has made clear to its European allies that it no longer intends to play such a substantial role in the defence of Europe. That is what the United States means by its regularly repeated demand for “burden-sharing.” By the time of the 2006 Riga Summit, the allies had agreed to raise their national spending to a minimum of 2% of GDP. It was in this context, that this prospect was confirmed at the 2014 NATO Summit held at Newport, by a specific commitment that the allies would make that figure the goal to be reached in 10 years.29(*) A second goal was that at least 20% of these defence budgets would be allocated to equipment purchases.

In fact, the end of the Cold War led the European States to believe that they would be able to “collect the dividends of peace” by continuously reducing their defence efforts.

The significant element of this new context is that two developments not directly related to one another have met and converged:

- On the one hand, the United States has found itself facing challenges on a global level of a kind not seen since the Second World War, and has felt the burden of its commitment to European defence more acutely;

- On the other hand, the European States have become increasingly aware of the threats they face, especially in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea. This was a symbolic shock, because it dramatically manifested Russia's will and ability to challenge internationally recognised borders, including those that it had itself recognised until then.

Source: NATO

The graph above shows the increase in the share of defence spending in GDP for most European countries between 2014 and 2019. Expenditures have increased for the fourth year in a row. However, for the time being, the majority of European NATO members still fall short of the 2% of GDP criterion.30(*) This is particularly the case in Germany, at 1.36%; Italy, at 1.22% and Spain, which is at 0.92% of GDP.

Here, American and European perspectives diverge. It is quite clear that for the United States there is no common measure between these two challenges. For the United States, China is a universal competitor, contesting American supremacy in all domains: first of all in the economic domain, then in the financial domain, and in the cultural, diplomatic and strategic domains as well. In this competition, the military dimension does not dominate, although it is present.

Russia has the opposite profile: it is a country with a weak economy, and a GDP between those of Spain and Italy - even though it is the largest country in the world and endowed with considerable natural resources. In addition to this, the Russian population is undergoing a net decline. Though Russia's interventionist and sometimes provocative policies pose a clear and immediate threat to European countries, and are of course more urgent for those closest to it, it does not pose a threat to US pre-eminence worldwide. These are the issues at stake in the organisation of the system for arms control in Europe, a matter that is of key importance for Europeans. In this light, the scheduled expiration of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty next August is extremely concerning. Significantly, the issue is the subject of very broad consensus in Europe.

This, then, is the deep root of the awakening of the European spirit of defence: our fundamental security and defence interests have diverged from those of the United States. But this divergence, of course, does not mean opposition.

Extremely strong ties unite the countries of Europe to the United States. These ties are multiple, and range across all the economic and social fields, but in general they may be considered as being of two fundamental types:

- First there are blood ties, forged in common military engagements against common enemies. While these ties are particularly old in the case of France, it can be said that they include all European nations, in respect of the liberation of Western Europe in 1944-1945. As we have lately been commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings, your rapporteurs here wish to take a moment to salute the memory of the thousands of American soldiers who gave their lives during the campaign in France. Their sacrifice cannot and will not ever be forgotten, and has forged an eternal bond between our two peoples.

- Then there are ties of a political nature. The United States is a democratic regime, based, in the same philosophical and ideological tradition as the European countries, on the belief that every individual has inalienable rights, and that the rights and duties of all members of society are defined and protected by the rule of law. This is an abiding, fundamental difference between the United States and other powers like China or Russia.

The use of the term “burden-sharing” in regard to European defence would thus seem appropriate. In substance, then, it is difficult to see what could lastingly justify Europe's continued under-sizing of its defence efforts.

2. Stabilisation does not yet mean rearmament

The analysis of quantified comparisons made by the Swedish Institute SIPRI helps put European defence efforts into perspective. A medium-term analysis of these comparisons (over a decade) shows some surprising results. Looking at the period between 2008 and 2017, SIPRI has identified four groups of countries:31(*)

- Those whose defence budgets have substantially increased, by at least 30%: China, Turkey, India, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Australia;

- Those whose defence budgets have increased by between 10% and 30%: South Korea, Brazil and Canada;

- Those whose budgets have increased by less than 10%: Germany, France and Japan;

- And those whose defence budgets have fallen: Italy, the United Kingdom and, above all, the United States.

Particular attention should be given to the United States and the main European countries. Over this period, the defence budget of the United States decreased by 14%, and was down 22% from its peak in 2010, when increased efforts were being made in Afghanistan and Iraq. This relative decline cannot, however, conceal the massive size of the US military budget, which in 2017 came to $610 billion, 2.7 times that of China, the second-biggest military spender.

In that same year, 2017, all the European countries combined (including Russia, in keeping with SIPRI classifications) spent $342 billion, i.e., 56% of the US effort. Unsurprisingly, the largest defence budgets in the European Union correspond to the largest countries, in the following order: France (6th in the world), United Kingdom (7th), Germany (9th) and Italy (12th).

As the SIPRI report points out, the relative weight of these four major European countries in global military spending has dropped by one-third over the last ten years. In 2008 they accounted for 15% of military spending in 2008, but for just over 10% in 2017.

The shift in the world's military centre of gravity is very telling. In 2008, these four European countries together spent 2.6 times more than China. Ten years later, their expenses are a quarter less than China's (78%).32(*)

It is also interesting to compare the combined spending of these four countries with Russia's spending. According to SIPRI, Russia spent $66.3 billion in 2017, which is 15% more than France. If we add to this the expenditures of the four largest EU countries, Russia's military expenditure accounts for a little over one-third of this combined amount (37%). On several occasions during their interviews, your rapporteurs raised the question of this paradox with regard to Russia, a country that is perceived as a great military power but whose spending is lower than that of Saudi Arabia, and falls within the same order of magnitude as the main European armed forces. The paradox was explained in various ways:

- One suggestion was that the numbers we know about only account for a portion of actual military spending. This argument may be valid. Still, it is hard to imagine the difference in values for the official figures going from one to two orders of magnitude. And even if the Russian military effort were in fact twice the estimate made by SIPRI, the figure would remain significantly lower than the figure for the European countries;

- A second and likely more relevant explanation is that the Russian effort is proportionately concentrated in a few high-end domains in which it has traditionally excelled: aeronautics (fighter jets and missiles),33(*) space, submarines, and of course its nuclear power, in which it remains a force to be reckoned with. Doubtless to this must be added its more recent development of cyberweaponry, which can be considered as a modern version of mathematics, another field in which Russia has long excelled;

- Another point to consider is that members of the armed forces in Russia are in general paid less than members of the armed forces in Europe, which accounts for a significant portion of defence efforts;

- And lastly, compared to other European countries, Russia enjoys a considerable but not quantifiable advantage: unity of command. The Russian army has one commanding authority, one hierarchy, one language, and one equipment range. Obviously, on the operational level, these are very important assets.

3. Europe's rise as a military power has only just begun

The primary mission of States has always been to defend their territory and the people who live there. From a historical perspective, the weakness of the defence effort of the European nations must be seen as a temporary interlude that eventually had to come to an end. Looking back on the interviews and visits they conducted around Europe, your rapporteurs are convinced that for the most part, our European partners are aware of this reality.

It is therefore essential that we see the debate between Atlanticists and defenders of a Europe entirely independent of the United States - and we should emphasise that there are very few of the latter in Europe - for what it is, i.e., as a false debate, and an artificial one at that, more to do with politicians and their personal aims than with real policy issues.

The reality, in fact, is perfectly logical:

- European defence today is dependent upon on the United States;

- The United States is calling for an end to this situation, first of all because they want to be able to concentrate their efforts on their rivalry with China, and secondly because they feel that European countries have benefited from the American presence to obtain substantial savings on their defence budgets;

- The United States and therefore NATO furthermore consider that some of the security challenges Europe is facing are not their responsibility: such would be the case, for example, for immigration crises, or for stabilisation and peacekeeping operations in the European neighbourhood. In the words of one of your rapporteurs' interviewees, “the Mediterranean, Africa and the Middle East will pose major challenges to the security of Europe in the coming decades. But NATO isn't interested, because that's not the purpose it was designed for”;

- European countries are therefore obliged to increase their defence effort;

- But this “burden-sharing” can only be achieved in a gradual and concerted manner amongst the European countries and the United States, so as not to weaken the defence of the European territory.

Thus, far from being in competition with one another, NATO and European efforts in fact converge to ensure the security and defence of Europe. A kind of implicit sharing of roles is in place, which could benefit from some clarification, so as to dispel any fears amongst our partners:

o NATO is responsible for the defence of European territory and the management of high-end threats;

o The European Union and European States acting in intergovernmental frameworks are responsible for ensuring “forward defence,” i.e., interventions outside Europe and security missions, such as migration control or anti-trafficking efforts. It is relevant to point out that the notion that the defence of Europe must include the ability to reach beyond the confines of Europe is not always clearly understood by some of our European partners. Yet one needs only look at the resolute actions taken in the Middle East by Russia to see how the eastern and southern fronts, far from being disconnected, are in fact often linked. The same is true in Africa, which has become a field for fierce competition amongst world powers.

Lastly, the complementary relationship between NATO and the EU is also due to the differences in their members. The most notable of these differences is that NATO includes the participation of Turkey, which for example blocks Cyprus, a member country of the European Union, from becoming a member of the Organisation.

Your rapporteurs propose:

- That the application of the military planning law (LPM) enacted by the Parliament should be safeguarded, particularly in regard to its provision for a rise in defence credits to 2% in 2025, and that the first step towards French participation in European defence should be to confirm our country's commitment to defence;

- That the unproductive notion of an opposition between NATO and the European Union should be abandoned, because they are in fact complementary and not in competition.


The Treaty of Lisbon, which came into force on 1 December 2009, created the conditions for the strengthening of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP); this paved the way for involvement in the defence domain by the European Commission through the creation of the European Defence Fund.

If sufficiently confirmed by the new EU institutions, these developments will mark a historic turning point.


1. Strengthening the common foreign and security policy

The texts have reinforced the Common Foreign and Security Policy, which entered into force in 1993 under the Maastricht Treaty (once known as the “second pillar”), giving it a wider scope and additional tools. On the ground, however, the EU's foreign policy is struggling to take shape and project the image of “Europe as a world power.”

a) Institutional reinforcement of the CFSP/CSDP

The Lisbon Treaty manifestly strengthened the CFSP by creating the post of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Vice-President of the Commission (HR/VP), and the European External Action Service.

Article 42 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) defines the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) as a component of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). It stipulates that the EU may make use of civilian and military assets outside the Union “for peace-keeping, conflict prevention and strengthening international security in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter.” The capacities necessary for the accomplishment of these missions are to be provided by the Member States.

Decisions in regard to CFSP/CSDP are to be taken unanimously by the Council, except in specific cases (Article 31 TEU). The adoption of legislative acts (regulations, directives) is excluded.

The Treaty of Lisbon also supplemented the scope of the CSDP resulting from the Petersberg missions, to include joint actions in the disarmament field, military advisory and assistance missions, conflict prevention missions and post-conflict stabilisation operations. All these missions can contribute to the fight against terrorism, as well as by providing support to third countries to fight terrorism on their territory.

In June 2016, the HR/VP presented to the European Council a European Union Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy (EUGS). This global strategy identifies five priorities for the Union's foreign policy: the security of the Union, the resilience of the States and societies in the EU's eastern and southern neighbourhoods, the development of an integrated approach to conflict, regional cooperative arrangements, and global governance.

The European Council of 28 June 2016 indicated that it “welcomed with interest” this Global Strategy, which has multiple ramifications (see inset) including the ambition of strategic autonomy for the European Union. The European Council of 15 December 2016 then launched several initiatives to strengthen EU action in the defence domain.

The last report on Global Strategy was delivered at the meeting of the Council on Foreign Affairs held 17 June 2019, at which HR/VP Federica Mogherini presented the third progress report on the EUGS and a report on her activities as HR/VP. In the implementation of this Strategy, France is particularly dedicated to the consolidation of strategic autonomy, understood as greater independence in terms of Union decision-making, assessment, and action, which are necessary in order to enable the European nations to participate in ensuring their own security, contribute to greater burden-sharing, and cooperate on an equal footing with our partners.

2016-2018: progress of the CSDP

In November 2016, the Council reviewed an “Implementation Plan on Security and Defence”, which was intended to operationalise the vision set out in the EUGS in regard to defence and security issues. To meet the new level of ambition, the plan included 13 proposals, including a Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) focusing on expenditures; a strengthening of the Union's rapid reaction force, in particular by recourse to European Union Battlegroups; and a new, unified Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) for Member States seeking to increase their engagement in security and defence matters. On 30 November 2016, the HR/VP presented the Member States with a European Defence Action Plan (EDAP), containing key proposals for a European Defence Fund dedicated to defence research and the establishment of defence capabilities. The Council also adopted conclusions approving a plan intended to implement decisions on EU-NATO cooperation adopted in Warsaw (42 proposals).

These three combined plans, which some have referred to as the “winter package on defence” were a major step forward in the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty in the security and defence domain.

In March 2017, the European Council took stock of the progress made, highlighting the creation of the Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC), a new structure designed to improve the Union's ability to respond more quickly, more effectively, and more flexibly in the planning and execution of non-executive military missions. It also noted progress made in other domains. For example, in November 2018, it highlighted the substantial progress made over the last two years in areas such as the Civilian CSDP Compact, the development of the MPCC, the implementation of PESCO, CARD, and the European Defence Fund, strengthening cooperation between the Union and NATO, promotion of the proposal for a European Peace Facility, and military mobility. In December 2018, EU leaders also commended the progress made in the areas of ??security and defence, including the implementation of PESCO, military mobility, and the Civilian CSDP Compact.


The efficiency and speed of decision-making in the CFSP/CSDP domain is undermined by an institutional barrier: the unanimity rule, which is the focus of regular debate. This rule may be overridden without requiring an amendment to the treaty if the European Council unanimously decides to adopt a resolution providing for the Council to act by qualified majority (Article 31 (3) TEU, known as the “bridging clause”: “The European Council may unanimously adopt a decision stipulating that the Council shall act by a qualified majority...”)

This clause has never been invoked. It is, however, not applicable to decisions with military or defence implications.

In 2017, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, advocated reducing the systematic use of unanimity on foreign policy issues. In September 2018, the Commission identified three specific areas in which such a change might be made, when it is necessary to:

- respond collectively to attacks on human rights;

- apply effective sanctions;

- or launch and manage civilian security and defence missions.

The nature of the Common Foreign and Security Policy is itself not readily compatible with the qualified majority principle. The idea of ??activating the “bridging clause” provided by the Lisbon Treaty is appealing, as it includes a number of safeguards (prior decision of the European Council, exclusion of the defence domain). But might its implementation be counterproductive if a given country were ultimately to dissociate itself from the common position adopted by qualified majority?

European disunity in the face of the crisis in Venezuela (with Italy, Slovakia, Cyprus and Greece refusing to recognise Juan Guaido as interim president) has recently shown that divisions amongst European partners are possible, even in matters regarding human rights. Likewise, in regard to the implementation of sanctions, it would not seem appropriate to proceed other than by unanimous decision.

Your rapporteurs recommend a flexible approach instead, which would permit those who wish to do so to move forward together within the EU framework (for example: Permanent Structured Cooperation) or outside of it (for example: the European Intervention Initiative). This approach would permit the debate on unanimity, which is a source of tension and thus remains blocked for the time being, to be partly circumvented.

b) Permanent Structured Cooperation: “Sleeping Beauty” awakens

Provided under Articles 42 (6) and 46 of the TEU, Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) has long been the “Sleeping Beauty”34(*) of the Lisbon Treaty. It was finally launched in December 2017 by 25 of the Member States (out of 27, without Denmark and Malta). The very inclusive German approach prevailed over the French approach to PESCO, which was intended to be more selective and more strictly in line with the provisions of the Treaty, to wit: “Those Member States whose military capabilities fulfil higher criteria and which have made more binding commitments to one another in this area with a view to the most demanding missions shall establish permanent structured cooperation within the Union framework.” (Article 42 (6), TEU).

The initial conception of PESCO was indeed very ambitious - “structured” and “permanent” cooperation was meant precisely to be a plan to integrate military capabilities. In its actual implementation, PESCO is more modest, but it does have the advantage of involving a very large number of States, with each acting according to its own level of industrial know-how and motivation to move forward together. Much to the contrary of the occasional negative commentary asserting that PESCO has been too inclusive and not ambitious enough, your rapporteurs noted that all their interviewees in Europe assessed it positively - which is already a success in itself.

On 6 March 2018, the Council adopted a roadmap for the implementation of PESCO. A list of 17 initial collaborative projects was then adopted. On 19 November 2018, the Council went on to adopt a list of 17 new projects. France participates in 25 of these 34 projects, for 8 of which it serves as coordinator.

It is also important to note that by participating in PESCO, States commit to a number of criteria and to achieving certain military capability objectives.

Your rapporteurs suggest three ways of improving PESCO:

- The primary criticism that might be made of this instrument today is that it does not fit into an organised process of filling Union capability gaps. PESCO has more often tended to focus on industrial returns for Member States rather than on military efficiency as an objective. It needs to be set in the context of a comprehensive plan, developed in a White Paper consistent with NATO planning (see II).

18. - Moreover, a clear reassertion of the obligatory nature of the so-called “more binding” commitments made by the participating States under Protocol no. 10 is necessary. These commitments are listed in the annex to the Council Decision of 11 December 2017 establishing PESCO (see annex). The States agreed on a list of 20 commitments, in which they undertake in particular to increase their investment and research expenditure in the defence domain, take part in a process to identify the EU's military needs, make deployable units available, and develop the interoperability of their forces. The commitments concerning the development of the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB) deserve specific mention. These include the following: “increase Europe's strategic autonomy and strengthen the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB)” (Commitment 15); “ensure that all projects with regard to capabilities led by participating Member States make the European defence industry more competitive via an appropriate industrial policy which avoids unnecessary overlap” (no. 19); “Ensure that the cooperation programmes - which must only benefit entities which demonstrably provide added value on EU territory - and acquisition strategies adopted by the participating Member States will have a positive impact on the EDTIB.” (no. 20).

By their participation in PESCO, the States have therefore committed to adopting procurement strategies favourable to the development of the EDTIB.

The texts provide for a mechanism to assess the fulfilment of these obligations by participating States. Sanctions are also possible: under the terms of Article 46 (4) of the Treaty, the Council may exclude a participating State that fails to fulfil its obligations.

If these commitments are not met, there is indeed a risk that PESCO will ultimately fail, as other joint capacity development mechanisms have done in the past.35(*)

- Lastly, the participation of external States is provided for on an exceptional basis as well: such participation would need to be strictly limited to cases where it would permit a substantial contribution to be made, manifestly in the interest of European countries. Such might be the case, for example, if the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) project, which now includes the participation of France, Germany and Spain, were to be included in PESCO and opened to the participation of the United Kingdom.

c) Article 42 (7): inroads by the EU into the joint defence of the continent?

Article 42 (7) of the Treaty on European Union provides a mutual assistance clause between EU countries, established by the Treaty of Lisbon.

Article 42 paragraph 7 of the Treaty on European Union

“If a Member State is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other Member States shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power, in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. This shall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain Member States.

Commitments and cooperation in this area shall be consistent with commitments under the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which, for those States which are members of it, remains the foundation of their collective defence and the forum for its implementation.”

This clause has been invoked only once, by France, on 17 November 2015, following the attacks that struck the country on 13 November 2015. The invocation of this clause rather than Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, was an important symbolic gesture. This is particularly the case since the President of the French Republic could instead have chosen to invoke Article 222 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“The Union and its Member States shall act jointly in a spirit of solidarity if a Member State is the object of a terrorist attack or the victim of a natural or man-made disaster.”). This article, known as the “solidarity clause,” has a lesser political scope, and does not make use of the concept of “armed aggression” like Article 42 (7) does.

On the other hand, Article 42 (7) of the TEU is not merely symbolic, since it imposes a legal obligation, even though each State is able to privately decide what aid and assistance it can provide.

In response to the activation of this clause, our European partners have made contributions in the Levant (Iraq/Syria) as part of the fight against Daesh, in Mali (strengthening MINUSMA and EUTM Mali, providing tactical transport resources for Barkhane, etc.) and in the Central African Republic (CAR).

The Europeans' response to France's activation of Article 42 (7)

Many of our partners responded to France's activation of Article 42 (7) of the Treaty on European Union on 17 November 2015. The non-exhaustive list below gives some examples of their contributions.

In the Levant (Iraq/Syria): on 2 December 2015, the United Kingdom authorised strikes in Syria and doubled its fleet of fighters based in Cyprus; on 4 December, Germany approved operational support for strikes in Syria (1 frigate, 6 Tornados...); the Netherlands authorised an extension of strikes into Syria; Belgium (1 frigate), Denmark, Latvia and Italy (deployment of a CSAR platform,36(*) i.e., 130 personnel and 1 helicopter) also took measures in support of France.

In Mali: reinforcements were provided by several countries to the forces and resources deployed by MINUSMA and EUTM Mali, with tactical transport resources (C130 Hercules) provided to Operation Barkhane (Germany, Belgium, Norway, Austria), and the participation of Norway (though outside the scope of Article 42 (7)) in a logistics base.

In the CAR: participation of Portugal in MINUSCA, assignment of troops to EUTM CAR from Poland, Belgium, Spain (within the framework of the Eurocorps).

Lebanon: Assignment of a Finnish Infantry Company to the Commander Reserve Force (FCR) as part of UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon).

France's invocation of Article 42 (7) of the TEU and the unanimous support it then received constitute an unprecedented affirmation of the solidarity between EU Member States. This allowed France to solicit partners on a bilateral basis to support its operations in the Sahel, thereby facilitating the deployment of Operation Sentinel within the national territory:

“France can no longer do everything on its own. It has had to be engaged in the Sahel, in the Central African Republic, in Lebanon, and in the intervention and response actions in the Levant, while at the same time providing on its own for the security of its national territory. So what we are going to do now is get back to technical discussions with our partners to jointly take stock of what we can do together and what each of us can contribute. That is going to cover this theatre and other theatres, and it is going to be done very quickly,” said Jean-Yves Le Drian, then Minister of Defence, on 17 November 2015.

A feedback analysis needs to be conducted concerning this invocation of the mutual assistance clause. In 2015, the actual implementation of this clause had never really been considered, and the Treaty does not provide any specific roles for the various European institutions in an implementation of Article 42 (7).

Without necessarily seeking to make Article 42 (7) “a kind of enhanced article 5,”37(*) it might for example be appropriate:

- to plan in advance for the possible cases in which Article 42 (7) could be triggered, and the terms of the assistance to be provided to the country attacked, not only in a bilateral form but also, if appropriate to the case at hand, in the form of EU action (in the field of internal security, border management, CFSP/CSDP, etc.);

- and assign a dedicated information and coordination role to a specific EU body, for example the HR/VP, in case of an activation of Art. 42 (7).

2. A paradoxical decline in missions and operations

The post-Lisbon relaunch of the institutional mechanisms of the CFSP/CSDP has paradoxically been accompanied by a decline in the number of missions and operations undertaken by the EU, which has struggled to demonstrate its added value in this area at a time when the international context would tend to justify an increased commitment.

a) Civil and military missions

Since 2003, the Member States have launched 33 missions and operations, involving the engagement of nearly 80,000 men and women. As of June 2019, 16 missions or operations are still on-going in Africa, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean, the Balkans and Eastern Europe (see annex to this report). 10 of these missions are civilian and 6 are military.38(*)

Civilian missions focus on the training of third country security forces or on strategic advisory activities. These missions are financed by the EU budget as part of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).

Military operations and missions are funded directly by the 27 Member States participating in the CSDP (all members except Denmark). Some costs are borne on a shared basis via what is known as the Athena mechanism; the contribution made by each State depends on their GDP.

CSDP missions and operations in 2019

Source: European External Action Service (EEAS)

b) A necessary revitalisation

It is clear that the missions and operations of the CSDP are only very partial responses to the current crises.

NATO would appear to be the most appropriate framework for a response to threats from the east. For threats from the south, ad hoc coalitions would appear to be more efficient, and more rapidly deployable. The CSDP would then have more of a supporting role, but would have real added value in Africa and in the Mediterranean, where its inherent global approach would be an asset.

Also of note in this context is the failure, to date, of the EU Battlegroups (EUBGs), which have never been deployed.

After the 1999 meeting of the Council at Helsinki, the European Union set up a rapid reaction force to cope with third country crises, known as the EUBG, or “battlegroups,” bringing together 1,500 personnel, deployable in 15 days within the framework of the CSDP. The States provide six-month rotating service for this purpose, with 2 EUBGs theoretically being on duty at the same time in each half-year period.

However, the EUBGs have never been used because of a lack of political consensus, and because of the complexity of their implementation and funding, which runs counter to their original goal of speed and efficiency.

CSDP missions and operations are currently receiving insufficient attention from national and European leaders.

Under the mandate of Federica Mogherini, HR/VP, only three missions and operations have been launched: EUNAVFOR MED (2015), EUTM CAR (2016), and EUAM Iraq in 2017.

For the next Multiannual Financial Framework, the European Commission has proposed the off-budget creation of a “European Peace Facility” (EPF) with €10.5 billion, so as to finance the common costs of CSDP operations more effectively. This European Peace Facility is intended to replace the Athena mechanism for the financing of EU operations, as well as the African Peace Facility. It is intended to expand the scope of cost sharing for operations and thus facilitate their deployment. The aim of the EPF is to enable the EU to provide defence assistance to third countries and to international and regional organisations.

The missions and operations of the CSDP will thus need to be relaunched:

- On the one hand, by concentrating resources where the European Union has the highest added value, even if it means accepting the closure of certain missions after an evaluation, since they were in any case not intended to be pursued in the long term;

- On the other hand, by extending the scope of cost sharing and setting up financing mechanisms that are not a hindrance, i.e. by implementing the European Commission's proposal for the European Peace Facility, up to €10.5bn for the duration of the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).

-Finally, by strengthening the capacities of Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC) structure, created in 2017 as part of the EU Military Staff (EUMS) so as to improve EU crisis management structures. This may become the embryo of a veritable European military HQ, the equivalent of NATO's SHAPE,39(*) which the EU has failed to establish in the wake of the so-called `Pralines' Summit of 2003.40(*) Such a European HQ would need to be established in line with the resources available to NATO (in keeping with the so-called Berlin Plus agreements).

c) The case of Operation Sophia

The course taken by Operation Sophia is emblematic of a relative decline in CSDP missions and operations.

Your Committee heard Rear Admiral Olivier Bodhuin, Deputy Commander of Operation EUNAVFOR MED Sophia,41(*) one of CSDP's most significant missions since 2015. This mission, being conducted by 26 EU countries, has a headquarters in Rome, which your rapporteurs visited.

Operation Sophia illustrates the security-defence continuum. In particular, it highlights the importance of a strong link between the EU's actions in the field of security, which is the responsibility of the European Commission, and the CSDP. Since 2015, cooperation has been established between Sophia and the Frontex, Europol and Eurojust agencies. Frontex is an essential partner, which is now gaining ground because of plans to expand the European Border and Coast Guard Agency to 10,000 border guards, including 3,000 EU agents. However, cooperation with EU agencies is currently suffering from a lack of visibility of the future of Operation Sophia.

In March, the EU Council decided to suspend the ships assigned to operation Sophia temporarily because of a failure to reach an agreement on landing ports for migrants. The mission is now concentrating on air patrols, as well as on providing support and training for the Libyan coastguard and the Libyan navy. This unfortunate suspension of the operation's maritime resources deprives the mission of its information sources and capacity to act and prevents it from implementing the arms embargo against Libya.

Although the continuation of Operation Sophia is certainly to be welcomed, its decline is particularly regrettable at a time when the EU needs to ensure the maximum mobilisation of all its resources in the face of challenges that are likely to be significantly heightened in the future. But any rebound of Operation Sophia would obviously need to take place through the resolution of the difficult issues surrounding migrant landing and processing ports.

Operation Sophia has achieved tangible results, as shown in the overview below.

Review of EUNAVFOR MED operation SOPHIA (June 2019)


Efforts to combat arms smuggling

SOPHIA is the only operation combatting arms smuggling off the Libyan coast

Radio contacts

Friendly approaches

Flag enquiries


Example of transhipment operation

Vessels of interest tracked

Suspected of smuggling

Vessels destroyed

Suspected smugglers arrested

Migrants rescued

Efforts to combat oil smuggling

Efforts to combat migrant smuggling



“The European Defence Fund aims at fostering the competitiveness and innovativeness of the Union's defence technological and industrial base by supporting defence-oriented R&D activities.”42(*)

“The general objective of the Fund is to foster the competitiveness, efficiency and innovation capacity of the European defence industry, by supporting collaborative actions and cross-border cooperation between legal entities throughout the Union, including SMEs and midcaps, as well as fostering the better exploitation of the industrial potential of innovation, research, and technological development at each stage of the industrial life cycle, thus contributing to the strategic autonomy of the Union. The Fund should also contribute to the Union's freedom of action and autonomy, in particular in technological and industrial terms.”43(*)

1. Rationale and context for the creation of the European Defence Fund

It is the general consensus of the persons heard by your rapporteurs that the creation of the European Defence Fund (EDF) constitutes a major turning point for European defence. It would be useful to take a look back at its origins, which show the importance of this development, and also to locate this tool within the broader whole of what one interviewee referred to as a “European defence dynamic.

This new dynamic is based on three pillars:

· a political pillar: PESCO;

· a capability pillar: the Capability Development Plan (CDP) developed by a joint effort of the EDA and the Member States. In this context, 11 capability priorities were approved in June 2018, to cover the entire capability spectrum on the pan-European level for the first time. Each of the capability priorities is the subject of a “Strategic context case,” which serves as a blueprint to allow the preparation of an overall assessment and the identification of possible actions to be carried out in cooperation. The first version of these Strategic Context Cases was to be approved by Member States before the summer;

· a budgetary pillar, initially built around a Preparatory Action on Defence Research (PADR) for R&T; and a European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP) for R&D. These two measures will then be taken over by the EDF starting in 2021.

a) The political rationale for the creation of the EDF

The EDF was created upon a proposal by the European Commission. The idea was presented for the first time in a speech by President Juncker in 2016. Several contextual elements doubtless played a role in the emergence of this project:

- on the one hand, there is the new course taken by the United States with the election of a president who has appeared to question the American guarantees provided under Article 5 of the Washington Treaty (regarding Montenegro, in a televised interview of July 2018);

- on the other, there is the rise of threats on the eastern and southern fronts, and the general context of a weakening multilateralism;

- thirdly, there is the prospect of the UK's exit from the European Union, which has produced a shockwave in defence matters because of the essential role of this country in the continent's security architecture;

- and lastly, the increasingly aggressive opposition to the European Union and its institutions by European populist movements, which culminated with Brexit, has doubtless justified the European Commission taking a turn back to basics, since the primary objective of building European integration after all was to protect the peoples of Europe against war. This goal having been achieved with regard to relations between European countries, it has naturally come about that the European Union is now concerned with protecting Europeans against external threats.

b) The economic rationale for the creation of the EDF

It is very clear from the hearings and visits conducted by your rapporteurs that a consolidation of the various national defence industries at the European level is now urgently required. This would involve bringing about the rise of a European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB), which must be maintained if the European nations intend to be able to defend themselves and choose their own course independently one day.

Two elements combine to make this consolidation a compelling necessity: on the one hand, defence markets are increasingly competitive, with the appearance or reinforcement of new stakeholders (China, Turkey, Israel, South Korea, etc.). On the other hand, the technological content of armaments is constantly increasing, and this implies ever more significant investment in order to have equipment meeting the highest standards. To finance these investments, we must have companies that are capable of reaching a critical size and bidding on more extensive contracts.

The consolidation of European industrial leaders is essential to the survival of a defence industry very directly attacked by our American allies.

It is an old theme, and there are several examples of industries that have consolidated at the European level to then become global leaders: in this regard one naturally thinks of Airbus. But the example that comes to mind most readily in the defence domain, and is something of a model in the field, is of course MBDA.

As we will see, the EDF was designed in consideration of the prospect of bringing about a veritable EDTIB. It is not a new concern, but one that has clearly taken on greater urgency. It is apparent from the work of your rapporteurs that the majority of European defence companies are strongly convinced that if the different defence industries of the European countries do not join forces, or worse, if they continue to compete directly for the same contracts as they most often tend to do, they will all be eliminated relatively soon. One foreign manufacturer estimated this time frame to be between 5 and 10 years at most for most segments of the defence industry.

This is therefore a matter of real urgency and a vital issue in terms of the sovereignty of European nations. This is undoubtedly why the Commission's proposal has met with fairly rapid success, though it is in fact a major innovation.

c) The revolutionary nature of the EDF

By concretely addressing the capability angle with the creation of a budgetary tool, the Commission has taken a revolutionary step, in that it will be the first time in the history of European integration that Community funds will be used to directly finance a defence policy.

For the most part, defence had until now been the exclusive responsibility of Member States, one that they did not wish to relinquish to the Commission. This remains true across broad segments of the defence field, and for the entirety of the operational segment in particular, for obvious political reasons: it remains impossible to imagine, at the present stage of European integration, that the lives of the soldiers of the national armies would be risked on the basis of a Community decision taken by qualified majority.

The Commission has approached the matter astutely from the capability angle. Naturally, the European Union had already been involved in capability matters since the Lisbon Treaty, notably through the European Defence Agency (EDA). But the novelty here is in the concrete allocation of Community funding to defence projects, which is entirely unprecedented.

The groundwork for this major Commission project, the principle of which was approved by the European Parliament a few months ago, was laid by two tools: Preparatory Action on Defence Research (PADR), and the European Defence Industry Development Programme (EDIDP).

2. The forerunners of the EDF: PADR and EDIDP
a) The Preparatory Action on Defence Research

The first step in the European Union's new commitment to capability was the Preparatory Action on Defence Research (sometimes referred to as PADR). It focuses on pure research in the defence domain (R&T). €90 million in funding have been allocated to the action. This budget has allowed it, in particular, to start work on the project Ocean 2020, totalling €35 million, which involves the production of a maritime surveillance demonstrator drone. The project includes the participation of 42 partners from 15 countries of the Union. It is intended to allow for work to be done on the basis of a Patroller drone in the fields of connectivity and data aggregation in the maritime surveillance domain. The project leader is the Italian company Leonardo, with the participation of the French engine manufacturer Safran. Two demonstrations will be carried out, one in the Baltic Sea by the Swedish Navy and the other in the Mediterranean Sea by the Italian Navy.

This project merits mention here because one day it may be said that this was the first defence research project financed by the European Union using Community funds. We also note that a great number of European stakeholders may be able to come together around a single project, and start to build an EDTIB around such projects.

b) EDIDP, forerunner of the R&D segment of the EDF

The next step was to set up a European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP)44(*) that would be focused on R&D. This programme is on an entirely different level than the preparatory action, since it includes a budget of €500 million over two years (2019-2020).

It is the subject of a regulatory text which establishes operating procedures, specifically the co-decision procedure, and which also defines eligibility rules. More precisely, these rules define the EDTIB. This is a first and a fundamental step forward, and it should be emphasised that while this objective did not seem easy, it was reached fairly quickly.

In concrete terms, the EDIDP allows the European Union to provide funding for capacity projects, in proportions that vary according to the phase the project has reached:

- 100% of the cost of the projects in the prototype development phase;

- 20% of the cost of projects working towards the development of a prototype. It should be noted that most projects funded are likely to fall into this category;

- 80% for projects in the post-prototype phase.45(*)

Financing may also be provided for indirect project costs up to 25%.46(*)

The main requirement is that projects submitted must involve the participation of companies from at least three countries of the Union.

To these base amounts are added two possibilities for increased funding:

· for PESCO projects, incremental financing may be provided to cover another 10% of project costs;

· For projects including the participation of SMEs from a country other than that of the primary project developer, a second bonus may be added depending on the degree of participation of such SMEs.

Thus there is a potential leverage effect, which will paradoxically become greater as European funding becomes more limited. The Member States will have every interest in benefiting from European funding, but to obtain it the projects they will need to present must correspond to the capacity needs identified by the European Union, and above all must involve at least three countries.

The common definition of what the projects included in the EDIDP could include resulted in a working programme and a definition of project categories. A competitive bidding process was then opened in these categories. It should be remembered that this programme operates within the context of classic community governance, and therefore under a committee oversight (comitology) procedure: the Commission's proposals must be accepted by a qualified majority of Member States.

The proposed projects are analysed on the basis of six criteria, but also in light of the capabilities plan defined by the EDA. They are submitted upon the proposal by Member States (thus, in the case of France, the presentation of projects is incumbent upon the DGA [Directorate General of Armaments]). This is an important procedural element, since it leads to the emergence of a Europeanised approach to projects among all national DGAs.

In this institutional context, it is clear that it is entirely in Member States' interest to cooperate; beyond the financial aspect, this is probably the most significant element of this new capacity oriented approach in the EDIDP and EDF: the aim is to promote a change in the culture so that ministers of defence in the various European countries progressively develop the reflex to think European first.

The other incentive involved, obviously, is that it pushes the major systems integrators to open up to SMEs from other European countries, which should gradually lead to closer links amongst the various national DIBs. Moreover, it is also a way to integrate those European countries that have no major defence contractors.

Another fundamental point is the classic functioning of qualified majority rule in the comitology procedure: it offers a guarantee for “small” countries, since the alliance of France, Germany, Italy and Spain would still not permit a qualified majority to be attained.

This approach should make it possible to go beyond the issue of geographical return, which as we have seen in earlier European capability projects can be extremely burdensome and counterproductive. Here, the logic is reversed: States that want to win contracts in calls to tender must rely on the overall efficiency of their projects (which will be evaluated in view of their operational impact and their contribution to European strategic autonomy), and on the cross-border cooperation they involve.

It is important to appreciate how fundamentally this approach differs from the traditional French approach. Our country already has a strong DIB, built around large contractors, many of which are global leaders. That France might support such a scheme, therefore, would not necessarily be obvious at first glance. It also raises questions about the future of relations between the major French systems integrators and French defence industry SMEs. Indeed, since the system is designed to facilitate cooperation between companies from different countries, large French companies will obviously seek to integrate non-French SMEs into their projects. There is however no guarantee that a proportional number of foreign companies will seek to partner with the French SMEs over which the French systems integrators will have preferred foreign SMEs. This is an aspect of the system to which your rapporteurs' attention was called by the Delegate-General for Armaments.

The primary programmes that will benefit from EDIDP include the MALE EuroDrone and ESSOR radio (European Secure Software defined Radio) programmes.

3. The EDF, a capability action for the medium term

The EDF was approved by the European Commission/ Council/ Parliament in trilogue,47(*) and was incorporated in principle into the financial outlook for 2021-2027.

It will involve both R&T and R&D components, but will cover considerably larger amounts, which ultimately are likely to come to €4.1 billion for the R&T segment and €8.9 billion for the R&D segment.

As for the R&D side, a leverage effect will be implemented under the same conditions applicable for EDIDP. Under these conditions, if we assume that European funding covers 20% of these projects, Member States will ultimately add €35.6 billion, making a total of €44.5 billion in defence R&D funding. Finally, if we add the direct financing of R&T, the entire EDF would be a supplement to the European defence effort of €48.6 billion over seven years, i.e., approximately €7 billion per year for that period.

The European Commission's initiative will therefore have a knock-on effect that will encourage Member States to mobilise to submit their projects in a cooperative framework. It will also of course be necessary to ensure that these new efforts do not crowd out projects initially intended to be carried out at the national level.

This initiative clearly represents a magnificent example of the contributions of European integration. Indeed, it allows multiple objectives to be reached simultaneously:

· strengthening European defence by enabling European countries to achieve their capability objectives;

· strengthening cohesion between European countries by encouraging them to work together;

· reinforcing European strategic autonomy by significantly promoting the emergence of a real EDTIB that will progressively move towards transnational consolidation, which as we have seen above is a precondition for the survival of the defence industries of the European countries.

4. The indispensable European preference
a) European taxpayers' money

The purpose of EDF, as we have seen, is to consolidate the European DTIB. Naturally, the system will not allocate European taxpayers' money to support the industries of non-EU countries. Thus, aside from certain exceptions, the system does not apply to third countries or their enterprises: “Applicants and their subcontractors shall be eligible for funding provided that they are established in the Union or in an associated country, have their executive management structures in the Union or in an associated country and are not controlled by a non-associated third country or by a non-associated third country entity.”48(*)

Therefore, access to the EDF can only be granted to companies that are based in Union territory and not controlled by a third party. The criterion here is not shareholding, but decision-making power.

However, the regulation does not prohibit third country companies from benefiting from the fund. This is particularly the case of companies from associated countries (i.e. EFTA members that are members of the European Economic Area-EEA).

But this may be the case for third-country companies as well “if this is necessary for achieving the objectives of the action and provided that its participation will not put at risk the security interests of the Union and its Member States.”49(*) The critical check imposed by the mechanism covers three control criteria:

- Contractors are required to guarantee the security of their supplies;

- Contractors are prohibited from removing any intellectual property rights (IPR) from the Union. Thus, a subsidiary of a US company cannot transfer ownership rights to the US company to which it belongs. Furthermore, IPRs developed with the help of EDF cannot be made subject to the IPR rules of third countries (such as the American ITAR50(*) system, for example). This is an essential point: with the EDF regulation, the European Union is beginning to adopt legislation comparable to that of the United States in controlling of the fruits of its defence investments. But the European framework is still much less strict than the one imposed on European companies in the United States;

- Contractors are prohibited, as part of the same approach, from removing classified information from Union territory.

b) The negative reaction of the Americans is unjustified

On 1 May 2019, the United States sent a letter to the High Representative of the Union formally presenting their grievances against the EDF project and PESCO on the grounds that these systems would damage the Transatlantic relationship by shutting US companies out of European defence contracts.

As the European Union pointed out in its response of 16 May 2019, these criticisms are unfounded for several reasons:

- first of all, neither the EDF nor PESCO have changed European rules on defence contracts in any way. Therefore, nothing prevents Member States from buying American, which is clearly shown by the considerable volume of European purchases of American military equipment;

- secondly, the system, intended to consolidate the EDTIB in a way that preserves the interests of the member countries of the Union, is still merely a restrained copy of the American system, which is both far more extensive and far more rigorous in its application, and even has an extraterritorial dimension.51(*) The European Union has therefore logically asserted to the United States that the European defence markets are much more open to US firms than US markets are to European companies.

From this perspective, the figures are quite telling: the ratio is approximately 1 to 10. Whereas between 2014 and 2016 the Union exported $7.3 billion worth of defence goods and services to the United States, in that same time frame it imported... $63 billion worth! The detailed analysis reveals that in fact the situation is even more unfavourable to the Union, since the United States imports mainly raw materials and basic services, and thus its “defence” imports are quite small.52(*)

A final figure provides an enlightening supplement to the situation: the US Department of Defence (DoD) makes one-third of its foreign purchases from European companies. But insofar as that Department obtains 94% of its supplies from the United States, that third in fact represents quite a minimal amount, only around 2%. Finally, the European companies that ultimately supply that 2% of its purchases are always those with strong links to the United States.

Thus, the American criticism of these questions is both unfair and inopportune.

Furthermore, in political terms, it clearly shows the contradictory nature of the American rhetoric about “burden-sharing.” Logically, the United States should not be able both to ask Europe to assume more responsibility for its own defence, and deny it the industrial and technological means to do so. Here we see a form of tension between American middle- and long-term strategic interests (having a strong partner in Europe, which would allow the United States to concentrate its resources on its competition with China), and its shorter-term economic and industrial interests.

We might overlook this contradiction, which could be attributable to the natural reflex of elected officials to defend their constituents' industries in the short term, if it did not tend to weaken the solidity of the security architecture of the European continent. When US authorities' defence of the interests of the US arms industry goes so far as to suggest the conditionality of the US guarantees provided under Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, concrete consequences arise, because this weakens the credibility of the Alliance. This American tendency thus poses a major risk to the European member countries of NATO. As such, it is important that we remind our American friends and allies that such discourse is both unacceptable and detrimental to the long-term interests of the United States itself. As the French Minister of the Armed Forces succinctly put it, “it's called Article 5, not Article F-35.”

c) The case of the United Kingdom

Although at the time we are preparing this report, the United Kingdom still remains part of the Union, and although the past months have shown that it is difficult to anticipate political developments in that country, a major risk remains today that the United Kingdom may exit from the Union on 31 October, and very likely in the worst possible manner, i.e., without an agreement with the Union.

We will enter into a more in depth discussion of the role of that country that is so essential to the defence of the continent further on, but at this point it is appropriate simply to analyse the United Kingdom's situation within the framework of the EDF.

First of all, we need to look at the orders of magnitude to be used in our examination: if we add up R&T, R&D, and equipment purchases, the American budget comes to €160 billion per year. On the other hand, the combined budget of the 28 countries of the European Union comes to €40 billion, which is four times less.

The United Kingdom accounts for approximately €10 billion of that €40 billion, France for another 10, and the remaining €20 billion is borne by the other 26 countries. Maintaining an EDTIB equal to one-quarter of US spending was already a formidable challenge. If the British effort were to be cut off, the equation would become even more difficult. Admittedly, the creation of the EDF came about in part as a reaction to the prospect of this reduction due to Brexit as well, and some analysts have even concluded that it may almost compensate for it.53(*) But the question of whether it will be possible for British companies to benefit from the EDF will arise very quickly.

Naturally, this point will be part of the comprehensive negotiations to be held between the United Kingdom and the Union after 31 October. But your rapporteurs wish to point out here that in line with their general view of the United Kingdom's role in European defence, they would hope that a specific status could be reserved for the United Kingdom in regard to the EDF, and more generally in connection with the security and defence issues of Europe.

As such, it would be appropriate in particular to consider the situation of MBDA, the European leader and a model of European integration by the acceptance of mutual dependencies. Your rapporteurs have had the opportunity to express the position that the defence of Europe is impossible without the participation of the European nations themselves. But neither will it be possible to defend Europe without the EDTIB, of which British industry is a vital part.

Naturally, the special treatment the United Kingdom would be entitled to in such an approach, will need to allow every guarantee that the interests of the European Union will be protected, in particular vis-à-vis the American interests which are likely to assert themselves with increased vigour in a post-Brexit United Kingdom.




Of all our European defence partners, the United Kingdom is likely the one whose concerns are most similar to our own. While Brexit has created a climate of uncertainty, weighing even on our bilateral relationship, it is urgent that we intensify our strategic dialogue and consolidate and develop our cooperation in the armaments field.

1. A context marked by the uncertainties of Brexit
a) A leap into the unknown?

The United Kingdom introduced the principles underlying the CSDP together with France at the Saint-Malo Summit (1998). After the Iraq war, however, when the CSDP appeared as a possible counterbalance to the power of the United States, it began to distance itself from those principles. Atlanticists first and foremost, the British then acted to restrain a number of steps forward, such as the establishment of a military planning and conduct capability for the EU, which was only able to come to fruition after the Brexit referendum of 2016.

The withdrawal agreement negotiated between the EU and the UK government devotes few words to defence issues. It does stipulate that the provisions on CFSP/CSDP will cease to apply to the United Kingdom if both parties reach an agreement governing their future relations in this domain during the transitional period.

In addition, the political declaration that accompanies this withdrawal agreement, mentions the need for a future partnership that is “ambitious, close and lasting” in the field of foreign policy, and for “flexible and scalable cooperation.“The future relationship should (...) enable the United Kingdom to participate on a case by case basis in CSDP missions and operations through a Framework Participation Agreement.”

According to the political declaration, the UK should be permitted to participate in certain EU programmes and agencies as far as possible under the terms of EU law, thus allowing the United Kingdom to participate, for instance, in projects of the European Defence Agency (EDA), the European Defence Fund (EDF) and Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO). Arrangements have also been discussed in regard to the space field.

With the House of Commons having rejected the withdrawal agreement on three occasions, and the EU having indicated that no renegotiation is possible, though amendments to the political declaration may be, the prospect of a “hard Brexit” is becoming more and more credible. But a “hard Brexit” would obviate all the provisions of the abovementioned withdrawal agreement and political declaration - it would be a leap into the unknown.

And the uncertainties are all the greater as British leaders and public opinion are tempted to turn more to the rest of the world than to Europe, with the United Kingdom aiming to assert itself as a global power (“Global Britain”). Former defence minister Gavin Williamson, for example, stated: “[There are] those who believe that, as we leave the European Union, we turn our back on the world. But this could not be further from the truth. We will build new alliances, rekindle old ones and most importantly make it clear that we are the country that will act when required.”54(*) In courting public opinion, supporters of Brexit have thus played upon the public's nostalgia for the bygone power of the British Empire.

To the uncertainties generated by Brexit, we must also add the uncertainties that weigh upon the British defence apparatus. A recent parliamentary report55(*) showed that the British Ministry of Defence did not have a sufficient budget for its equipment procurement and support plans. The gap between its available budget and its cost requirements is estimated at between £7bn and £14.8bn over 10 years. Budgetary risks could also increase, due to the possible negative economic consequences of Brexit.

b) A shift in the balance of relations at the EU

The exit of the United Kingdom upsets the balance of relations amongst EU nations, which is particularly delicate in the areas of foreign policy and defence.

Brexit will essentially deprive the European Union of the Member State with the largest defence budget (£45bn, or 2.15% of British GDP56(*)), and of a nuclear power with a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

The exit of the United Kingdom also strips France of what is now its most kindred and closest partner in the Union, both in terms of military capabilities and the ability to conduct high-intensity extraterritorial operations.

As a result, France will become the only EU country both possessing nuclear weapons and holding a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, thus giving it greater responsibility and also putting it at risk of being subjected to greater pressures, for instance advocating the notion that it should share its seat at the UNSC with the rest of the EU. Certain voices have been raised to such effect, particularly in Germany.57(*)

This is not a desirable development. It would be neither in our interest nor in that of the Union. The EU currently holds five seats (2 permanent and 3 non-permanent) and it is unclear what benefit could be obtained from trading those 5 seats for one, even if permanent. In the absence of a unified foreign policy, there would be a risk that the EU representative would all too often abstain from votes.

This is why France is opposed to the notion, and argues instead for the admission of Germany as a permanent member of the UNSC.

2. The need to invent “creative” partnership arrangements

In September 2017, Prime Minister Theresa May asked negotiators to find “creative” solutions to involve the UK in the CFSP/CSDP.

a) The United Kingdom must be linked as closely as possible to European defence

Paradoxically, Brexit has led to renewed British interest in European cooperation in the defence domain.

Prime Minister Theresa May proposed a defence and security treaty with the EU, to define a framework for their future relationship, which would be based on two pillars: an economic partnership, and a security and defence partnership.

In September 2017, the UK Government indicated that it sought a future relationship that would be closer than all existing partnerships with third countries, in other words, a “deep and special partnership” with the European Union and its Member States.58(*)

The British government has in particular proposed to contribute directly to CSDP missions. 45 third countries now contribute or have contributed to such missions in the past, whether through specific agreements or under framework agreements entered with the EU. Such framework agreements exist in particular with Norway, Canada, Turkey and the United States. These agreements involve States concerned downstream of decisions made by the EU, however, whereas the United Kingdom seeks involvement as far upstream as possible. It is clear, however, that the UK government will no longer be able to participate in the launch of an operation, as it will no longer be a member of the EU.

The UK government has also expressed interest in Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), including the Military Mobility Project and the European Defence Fund (EDF). It also wishes to conclude an administrative arrangement with the European Defence Agency (EDA). More recently, the UK government has proposed the establishment of consultation and coordination structures.59(*)

The United Kingdom wishes to continue participating in the Galileo programme, including the encrypted part for military use only (Public Regulated Service, or PRS). However, the EU does not want companies from third countries to participate in future calls to tender concerning the encrypted part of Galileo. As for access to Galileo's secure signal as such, European authorities have proposed that the United Kingdom negotiate an agreement to gain access, a proposal that has also been made to the United States. The British government has, for its part, mentioned the possibility of developing its own navigation system, which is perceived in Europe as rather absurd.

Your rapporteurs clearly observed the strong resentment created, on the British side, by the denial of access to tenders for Galileo (PRS). This is an issue that will need to be addressed, in the common interest, during negotiations on the framework for future relations.

British participation in armaments cooperation is in our interest, considering the abilities of their industry, and its links to ours (MBDA). It is therefore necessary for European systems, particularly PESCO and the EDF, to be made as open as possible to the United Kingdom when it is in the interest of the EU and its Member States.

The European Security Council, proposed by the President of the French Republic and the German Chancellor (referred to as the “EU Security Council” in the Meseberg Declaration of June 2018), would seem to be an interesting notion if on the one hand it can help keep the United Kingdom anchored to the European continent, and, on the other, if it help can circumvent the cumbersome procedures of the CFSP/CSDP, in particular the unanimity rule. Nevertheless, it is a format that must remain flexible and must involve all EU countries, so that none will feel that a “multi-speed Europe” is being created.

b) Bilateral structural cooperation for European defence

Since the Saint-Malo declaration in 1998, bilateral defence cooperation between France and the United Kingdom has been a defining element of European defence, established between two powers with similar characteristics, whose defence budgets together account for half of all European Union defence spending.

The joint Franco-British operation conducted in Syria alongside American forces in April 2018 illustrated the proximity of our two countries, as did the intervention in Libya in 2011.

Franco-British solidarity was also recently illustrated by the provision of three British “Chinook” CH-47 heavy-lift helicopters at Gao as part of Operation Barkhane.

France and the United Kingdom are also cooperating in Estonia as part of Enhanced Forward Presence (EFP).60(*)



150,250 €47 Bn 215 1946 1949

202,700 €41 Bn 300 1946 1949

Permanent membership of UN Security Council

Founding nation of NATO

Nuclear warheads

Defence budget

Active military personnel

Founding nation of NATO

Permanent membership of UN Security Council

Nuclear warheads

Defence budget

Active military personnel

Source: Institut Montaigne61(*)

Franco-British cooperation today takes place in the context of the Lancaster House agreements of 2 November 2010. These agreements establish very close operational and industrial defence cooperation, including a Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF62(*)), which should be declared fully operational by 2020, as well as several major industrial projects. These bilateral agreements will of course continue to apply even in case of a “hard Brexit”.

Cooperation in the missile-manufacturing domain

Maritime Mine Countermeasures Programme (MMCM)

Other programmes carried out jointly

in the European Union context (ex: A400M aircraft)




Establishment of a joint Franco-British commission in 1992

Sharing of installations between the two countries to conduct nuclear test simulations

Sharing of sensitive information for better coordination

Creation of a Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF)

Joint military operations

(in Libya in 2011, with support from the United States)

Proliferation of officer exchange programmes between the two armies

The Lancaster House agreements: the three pillars of Franco-British cooperation

Source: Institut Montaigne

These agreements were reconfirmed in January 2018 at the Sandhurst Franco-British Summit.

On the industrial front, the Lancaster House agreements have made cooperation a priority so as to develop joint weapons programmes and permit economies of scale. MBDA is one of the biggest success stories in this field, involving a high degree of interdependence between our two countries.

The Lancaster House agreements were intended to permit the development of three major joint projects:

- The Future Combat Air System (FCAS): In 2014, BAE Systems and Dassault Aviation were commissioned to perform a feasibility study for this new generation combat system programme. Franco-British cooperation on the project was however suspended in 2017 in favour of Franco-German cooperation, and a few months later, the British announced the launch of their own project (Tempest). Spain has signed on to the FCAS project, but Italy and Sweden, on the other hand, seem more interested in joining the Tempest project.

- The Future Cruise and Anti-Ship Weapon (FC/ASW) programme, being handled by MBDA, intended to supersede the Scalp and Storm Shadow missiles as well as the Exocet and Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

- The MMCM (Maritime Mine Counter Measures) “mine warfare” programme, officially launched in March 2015, which includes the participation of Thales and BAE Systems.

Brexit will not impact our bilateral relationship in the short term.  But it could, however, have indirect consequences, linked to a certain “resentment” - a word that came up several times during your rapporteurs' interviews in London. This resentment towards the European Union and towards France in particular would seem to come from the perception that they had taken too inflexible a position in negotiations concerning the content and deadlines for Brexit, and concerning Galileo as well.

To give a renewed momentum to our bilateral relations, it is essential for the exit of the United Kingdom on 31 October (if it does in fact take place on this date) to go smoothly.

Is British participation in the Franco-German combat aircraft programme still possible? This would involve a convergence between the Tempest and FCAS projects; the latter of these two is currently at a more advanced stage. Given the degree of technology required, the cost of these projects - the cost of the FCAS project is estimated at several tens of billions of euros - and the similarity of needs between France and the United Kingdom, it would seem self-evident that it would be preferable to have a joint project rather than competing projects. The opinion shared by all our interviewees is that there is no room for two projects of this type in Europe. Your rapporteurs urge them to reconcile their aims before the ten-year anniversary of the Lancaster House treaty in 2020.


Unlike the United Kingdom, Germany is not a natural partner of France with regard to defence. This is essentially due to various historical reasons. That said, a pragmatic and coherent approach inevitably leads to the conclusion that Germany must play an important role in European defence.

1. Germany and defence, a complex issue

As your rapporteurs have already indicated, it is pointless to seek to build a credible European defence without considering the points of view of the various European nations. An examination of Germany's role in European defence first and foremost means looking at how the notion is perceived in that country.

The primary defining element of the issue is first of all the Federal Republic's deliberate choice, assumed and claimed, to turn its back on the German militarist tradition. It is important to emphasise this point, because when some in France criticise the notion of a “parliamentary army” in which no significant military decision can be made without prior authorisation from the Bundestag, they forget that this is a fundamental aspect of the identity of modern democratic Germany. It is not only an institutional reality, but a political and social reality as well: the German population has an instinctive mistrust of military operations, a sentiment that deserves respect because it is the fruit of hard historical lessons.

The second historical element is that Germany was at the heart of the Cold War. On the one hand, it was divided into two States for more than 50 years, and deprived of its capital, which was itself divided. As a result, these two States were integrated into larger defence systems, and thus were in a way relieved of any independent responsibility for their own defence. In particular, there remains at this time a particularly strong American presence in Germany. This American protection is undoubtedly one factor that helps explain the relatively low German budget for NATO defence spending: indeed, it amounted to only 1.36% of GDP in 2019.

In addition, Cold War tensions posed a direct threat to the security of Germany and its people, in particular including the fear of a major conflict involving the use of atomic weapons, which contributed to the emergence in West Germany of a powerful pacifist movement that remains a major presence today in a broad segment of the German left.

Finally, Germany today is a major industrial power in Europe and the world; this is nothing new, but in the new context of German defence it has become a natural expression of Germany's standing and influence, which undoubtedly contributes to its reduced concern for military matters in regard to international affairs.

To sum up, as one interviewee put it, “when someone says European defence, the French hear the word `Defence' and the Germans hear the word `Europe.'“

2. Germany's natural role in European defence

With 83 million inhabitants, Germany is the most populous country in the European Union, and the second largest in Europe after Russia, on a par with Turkey.

Germany is also the fourth biggest economy in the world63(*) and the biggest in Europe. Its economic strength, furthermore, is largely based on its top-tier industrial capabilities. Lastly, according to NATO statistics, Germany's defence budget exceeded that of France for the first time in 2019.64(*)

For these reasons, it is clear that Germany necessarily has a major role to play in European defence, even if it is not its natural inclination. For the time being, it has been very involved in NATO, in particular through the framework nations concept, which brings several NATO countries together around common equipment standards. It goes without saying that the use of the framework nation concept is also a considerable asset for its DTIB, which thus finds guaranteed outlets in its partner countries.

3. The imperative to overcome the difficulties of implementing a Franco-German partnership
a) The strong symbols of Franco-German friendship

The Franco-German relationship has been at the foundation of European integration since the beginning. Since the idea of Union integration came from the desire to prohibit any future war between European States, and since our two countries fought three wars in 70 years, Franco-German defence cooperation clearly has a special meaning.

This relationship is marked by strong symbolic elements, such as the Franco-German brigade (FGB), created in 1989. This unit, under binational command, is made up of 5,000 soldiers from both countries.

Though it has been deployed on several occasions, the FGB is nonetheless limited in its action by rules of engagement that differ profoundly in both countries. For this reason, the French and German units attached to the FGB work side by side rather than together, which is already an expression of real operational solidarity.

b) A context transformed by Brexit

The magnitude of Franco-German defence cooperation has necessarily changed as a result of Brexit. Indeed, defence issues within the Union were hitherto strongly marked by the positions of the two primary military powers, France and the United Kingdom, which as we have pointed out also share a great cultural and operational similarity in this domain.

Although Franco-British cooperation is essentially intergovernmental in nature, Brexit has had concrete consequences for the cooperation of the two countries, both for political and budgetary reasons. For example, the United Kingdom decided not to continue the work that had begun on the Future Air Combat System (FCAS).

In these conditions, France had no choice in regard to its capability ambitions but to turn to its other major partner, with which it had already been working in the aeronautics field via Airbus.

c) A partnership relaunched around major capabilities projects: FCAS and MGCS
(1) The Future Air Combat System (FCAS), a foundational project

In all respects, FCAS is a major programme and, from the French point of view, a vital one. Indeed, the French military doctrine is articulated around nuclear deterrence, which itself includes two components: an airborne component and a naval component. The airborne component has a fundamental role in the political implementation of deterrence, since it offers the President of the Republic flexibility of use. These are classic elements, but while they are well known in France, they are often misunderstood by our European partners, for whom the notion of deterrence is not in common use. It is thus relevant to point out that the airborne component allows the President of the Republic to hold back from striking until the last moment, while also showing any enemy threatening our vital interests that our ability to fight back and our determination are very real.

This is why France has always needed total autonomy in regard to the carriers of this airborne component. It is also the reason why it developed a high level fourth-generation aircraft on its own: the Rafale.

With FCAS, France and Germany will work together to equip themselves directly with a sixth-generation aircraft.

Naturally, this raises profound conceptual issues, since at present the needs of the two countries are significantly different. France needs an air superiority fighter capable of entering heavily-defended enemy territory to deliver a nuclear strike if necessary. Germany does not share the same aims, although its air force today does handle NATO's atomic deterrence weapons. Moreover, German Air Force missions focus more on police aviation activity than on the kinds of operational engagements and war missions conducted by French pilots, particularly in the context of operations Chammal and Barkhane.

In addition, it is clear that FCAS will be a comprehensive combat system, which is to be built around a sixth-generation fighter jet, referred to for the time being as a Next Generation Fighter (NGF), but which will include numerous other elements as well, in particular drones that will serve as remote avatars for the primary fighter.

This considerable project thus requires mastery of a very broad range of advanced technologies, combining skills in the aeronautical, optronic, communication and artificial intelligence fields.

Obviously, an alliance around this project, headed by France and Germany, and joined as well by Spain, should allow the development of a truly European fighter jet, naturally suited to equip the greatest possible number of European armies.

Of course, this will also raise the question of the role of the United Kingdom, which has announced the development of a competing project called Tempest. As previously indicated, it is very unlikely that the European countries will have the capacity to develop two sixth-generation fighter jets. Your rapporteurs are therefore convinced that at some point it will be necessary for these two projects to converge, and for the United Kingdom to contribute to the development of the FCAS.

(2) The other component of the comprehensive agreement: the future ground combat system (MGCS)

Along the same lines as for the FCAS, France and Germany have agreed to jointly develop a future ground combat system known in English as the Main Ground Combat System, or MGCS. The principle is in a way comparable to that of the FCAS: rather than a tank, it will be a set of connected platforms communicating with one another, which will include land combat robots. As in the aerospace domain, this will be a major technological and conceptual leap forward.

d) Implementation difficulties

The Franco-German political accord on FCAS and MGCS provided for a division of roles. In the aerospace domain, France would take the leadership role, particularly reflecting Dassault's pre-eminence in the production of the NGF. In the terrestrial domain, Germany would lead the project, which would be handled by the joint venture KNDS, made up of the French firm Nexter and the German firm KMW.

The idea was therefore one of balanced division, with a 50/50 industrial distribution, but with French leadership for the aerospace component and German leadership for the terrestrial component.

It is apparent that from the German side, this political agreement would at present seem difficult to implement, in particular at the Bundestag. Some German parliamentarians are exerting strong pressure to increase Germany's share in this division of tasks. At the same time, German manufacturers are also seeking to ensure a presence that would permit them to acquire the skills they lack, particularly in the aerospace domain.

This context has been further complicated by the offensive of the German industrial firm Rheinmetall, which has sought to take over both the MGCS project and its German competitor KMW at the same time.

Your rapporteurs are of the opinion that it has now become necessary to warn all stakeholders in this matter of the risks that this approach poses to these two projects, which are essential to the reinforcement of the European defence. These risks are now quite real.

With regard to the FCAS, first of all, this project cannot be seen as an opportunity for those who lack the mastery of certain skills to acquire them. This is indeed the stumbling block on which European armaments cooperation has all too often faltered: participating countries taking responsibility for domains in which they have no specific competence so as to thus acquire it. This logic of industrial conquest is untenable in such a highly competitive context where the technological and industrial challenges will already be considerable.

As far as the MGCS is concerned, while it is certainly legitimate for Rheinmetall to take part in the project, ultimately this question is up to the German State. It is incumbent upon Germany to decide how much of its half of the project it wishes to give to Rheinmetall. It would seem that certain German parliamentarians have taken the position that KNDS should not be seen as validly representing the share due to the German side. This statement is obviously difficult to support, however, since KNDS is 50% owned by the German company KMW, which is directly owned by a German family. It is therefore clear that even if the MGCS were to be entrusted to KNDS in its entirety, Franco-German parity would still be respected. Moreover, from this perspective, we note in passing that Rheinmetall is in fact much less German than KMW, since its majority shareholder is a US pension fund.

It is to be hoped that these tensions are only temporary and that considerations of common interest will encourage their prompt resolution.

This issue is made even more complex by the extremely sensitive issue of exports. At the present time, it is Germany's position that it can block the export of weapons equipment when such equipment includes German parts, sometimes even in very small proportions. Naturally, this poses a risk to the equilibrium of the two projects and, more generally, to the cooperation of the two countries in the armaments field. The two governments are therefore engaged in a timely effort to define rules for the export of jointly produced equipment. In a sense this reproduces the aim of the Debré-Schmidt agreements, which set rules covering half a dozen subjects in this domain. Discussions are currently on a minimum threshold, below which each country would be free to export.

Your rapporteurs are obliged to point out here that the difficulties concerning exports are somewhat paradoxical, because even if this fact is perhaps not very clearly perceived by public opinion, Germany is in fact quite a major arms exporter: according to SIPRI, German arms exports are now almost equal to French arms exports. German arms exports were in fact even higher than French arms exports from 2008 to 2012. It is also established that a significant share of these exports are by subsidiaries of German companies established outside Germany and sometimes even outside Europe, for example in South Africa.

These are difficult issues, but if they are not addressed promptly, they may dangerously encumber the major projects underway.

e) Is it possible to reconcile the French and German conceptions of defence?

Behind the ad hoc difficulties posed by the issues involved in the industrial share-out of projects and exports, the question naturally arises of whether the French and German conceptions of defence might be brought closer together in due course. The primary disagreement has to do with the relationship to the operational dimensions of defence matters. In this regard, the two conceptions remain quite divergent.

Nevertheless, it is easy to imagine that once France and Germany have spent 20 years jointly building the FCAS and MGCS, the experience will necessarily lead their approaches to converge. It would seem impossible for a common equipment project to be defined, after all, unless there is a shared threat analysis and a shared doctrine of use.

It is also conceivable that the European Intervention Initiative (E2I) might usefully contribute to bringing these conceptions closer together, since that forum is specifically intended to develop a common strategic culture amongst European nations, including those that are not or are no longer members of the Union.

France and Germany will also need to arrive at an agreement on what their real, mutually accepted and assumed mutual dependencies will be, as France, the United Kingdom and Italy have managed to do in regard to MBDA.

There is however one fundamental motive that will very likely drive progress in a favourable direction: external constraints. Certain non-European powers harbour the hope that European nations can be divided, which would prevent them from defending their interests properly. But defence, in this respect, is only one aspect of strategic autonomy, which is also expressed on the industrial, commercial and digital levels. In these areas, vital to the German economy, we can expect that country to be fully mobilised. The major capacity-building projects launched by France and Germany will therefore be borne forward in Germany by the awareness that those projects will also help build the capacity of European nations to develop industrial products independently, and to master their design, technology, use and their sale in foreign markets.


The two major defining partnerships mentioned above must remain open to other countries and are obviously not exclusive of other partnerships, which France must strive to strengthen and promote.


1. A substantial amount of common ground

As your rapporteurs pointed out in their introduction above, Italy is a striking example of a country with which we have a long-standing relationship of friendship and cooperation in defence matters that must never be overshadowed by the difficulties arising from the strained relations between the two countries' current governments. In fact, these difficulties have nothing to do with defence issues, with regard to which relations between the two countries are both long-standing and quite good.

France has several reasons to seek to deepen its partnership with Italy in defence matters. First of all, it is a major stakeholder in European defence. A founding member of the European Union, Italy is also one of its most populous countries, with a population of more than 60 million and a GDP that ranks eighth in the world. In addition, according to SIPRI, Italy's defence budget is the 12th largest in the world.

In addition to the size and importance of the country, the second obvious reason for the close relations between France and Italy in security and defence matters is their geographical proximity: the two countries share both land and sea borders, and both must always keep an eye on the situation in the Mediterranean and North Africa. From this perspective, of the European nations, Italy is quite clearly one for which the threat is perceived as more acute on the southern front than on the eastern front.

Unfortunately, though, it is precisely in this domain that tensions have emerged between Italy and its European partners, particularly with regard to the management of migrants collected in the framework of operation SOPHIA. Though the discussion falls outside the scope of this work, we observe in passing that unfortunately the European countries have in general shown little solidarity with their southern European partners, who have found themselves alone on the front lines, managing the arrival of migrants in tragic conditions. Migration flows are obviously an issue that affects us all, all the more so since the intended final destination of these migrants generally tends to be Northern Europe, with the Southern countries figuring into their plans only as an entry point to the continent. Your rapporteurs hope that this moment of tension can be promptly overcome so that operation SOPHIA can become fully effective again. This is all the more important as the issue of large-scale migratory movements remains fundamentally unsettled. It is indeed likely that it is just getting started, since there is a major development gap between Europe and these migrants' countries of origin.

Italy also shares with France its pragmatic approach to military operations. Although Article 11 of the Italian Constitution states that “Italy rejects war as a means for settling conflicts,” the Italian army still harbours the memory of a military operational culture, which constitutes an asset for European defence. This is shown in particular by its formidable efficiency in logistics and support operations.

2. Various areas of excellence
a) A significant engagement in external operations

Italy currently has between 6,000 and 7,000 troops assigned to external missions, a large figure when compared for example to the 3,500 German troops currently deployed. Italy has a small detachment assigned to Niger, for instance, currently consisting of about one hundred troops, but this number is likely to come to around 300 personnel by the end of 2019.

There are another 6,000 troops assigned to the Italian equivalent of Operation Sentinelle (Operation Strade Sicure). Insofar as this operation provides for a permanent military presence, Italy is interested in the operational experience gained from Operation Sentinelle.

Italy has a significant defence budget, amounting to approximately €24 billion. It should be noted that of this amount, €6 to €7 billion are allocated to the Carabinieri and the Guardia di Finanza, which includes the customs police.

b) A Navy that is essential to the security of the Mediterranean

The Italian navy plays an important role in ensuring collective security in the Mediterranean, as evidenced by the responsibilities assigned to Italy in Operation SOPHIA: the commander of the operation and the third-in-command are both Italian. The geographical location of Italy necessarily makes it a key player in surveillance and security for the Mediterranean.

As illustrated by the role of second-in-command of the SOPHIA operation, entrusted to a French admiral, the cooperation between Italian and French navies is quite good.65(*)

c) An important stakeholder in the EDTIB

The Italian DTIB is dynamic and varied. Its areas of excellence include:

- naval, as illustrated by the merger between Fincantieri and Naval Group;

- aeronautics, in particular including vast experience in helicopters, but also in missiles, with its participation in MBDA;

- space.

The beginning of closer relations between France and Italy in the naval domain is of particular interest. Though this is a complex movement, the potentialities of which remain to be confirmed, we note that this may be the first step in a comprehensive consolidation of European naval industry. In fact, both civil and military shipbuilding is subject to particularly acute competition from non-European actors. It is therefore important for European companies to join forces, rather than divide and compete for contracts as they currently do.66(*)

Your rapporteurs therefore express the hope that peace will soon be restored to the bilateral relationship, and that defence relations will be able to accomplish further progress.


When the Belgian government decided to buy American F35 aircraft to modernise its fleet, many analysts felt that it showed a lack of European spirit, since the French Rafale was also competing for the contract. These comments reflect an incomplete view of the reality of the Belgian capability effort, and the criticisms are ultimately both unfair and inopportune.

It is true that Belgium, like other European countries, did make the decision to purchase the costly F35 fighter. But this is hardly surprising coming from a country that, like the neighbouring Netherlands, is a privileged defence partner, and particularly devoted to its Cross-Atlantic ties. In addition, Belgian planes, like German planes, are intended to carry NATO weapons supplied by the United States. Since the United States still retains the exclusive right to decide on their use it will likely be possible for the F35 to carry these weapons, but this would be difficult to imagine with the Rafale.67(*)

Although this decision on the renewal of the air fleet attracted a great deal of attention, this is not the case at all in two other cases of considerable significance:

· the replacement by Belgium and the Netherlands of their minehunter fleets (Belgium being entrusted by the Netherlands with the role of selecting the minehunters with which the navies of both countries will be equipped in the context of a very comprehensive partnership). This is for a €2 billion contract, granted to Naval Group;68(*)

· the establishment of an unprecedented partnership with France in the terrestrial domain to replace the Belgian Army's motorised capabilities (CaMo) through a €1.6 billion contract.

Your rapporteurs wish to recall the particular nature of the “CaMo” agreement, with regard to which your Committee was invited to express its opinion, when the intergovernmental agreement between the two countries was being reviewed.69(*) Much more than a simple defence contract, this intergovernmental agreement between two founding members of the Union, both NATO members, is intended to harmonise the organisation of the land forces of the two countries, so as to ensure interoperability from the Secondary Joint Tactical Battalions (SGTIA) on up. In the long term, the French and Belgian armies will use the same medium armoured vehicles from the SCORPION programme, with the same doctrines of use, the same training, and the same readiness exercises. The purpose of this partnership is obviously interoperability. The final goal was clearly asserted by the Belgian government from the beginning in its planning document: “In an increasingly fragmented world where new and old powers continue to invest in the instrument of military power, the Europe of the EU and NATO countries can send a strong signal by expressing themselves as one, backed by the real possibility of conducting a joint (autonomous) military intervention.”70(*) This excerpt from the document summarises the equation with remarkable brevity: threats are on the rise; a response from European countries is necessary within the dual framework of the EU and NATO, which are thus not seen as contradictory; joint and autonomous interventions may be possible as a means of increased credibility in political discourse.

Your rapporteurs therefore fully subscribe to the conclusions of the abovementioned report: “By its engagement in this programme, Belgium proves that European integration, far from being opposed to national interests, is on the contrary the best way to protect them, since it implies the construction of balanced partnerships based on concrete realities, informed by the experience of the women and men responsible for implementing them.”

The Belgian example demonstrates that real European defence, which involves the preparation of a defence apparatus capable of responding to various types of threats ranging from hybrid actions to high-intensity conflict, will not be built around sweeping theoretical ideas, or under the aegis of some great pioneering nation. Rather it will be built based on an analysis of possible synergies, seeking what unites rather than what divides, seeking mutually beneficial partnerships, and accepting that the European spirit of defence may take multiple forms.


1. An important partner in European defence

In a recent speech he gave on the subject of Europe,71(*) Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte spoke in favour of Europe wielding its own power and defending its own interests. While asserting that NATO remains “our first line of defence and our guarantee of security,” which in his opinion “rules out a European army,” he advocated working together more closely within the EU so as “to be less dependent on the US.” To increase the effectiveness of the CFSP/CSDP, he proposed putting an end to Council unanimity on the subject of European sanctions.

The Netherlands is acutely aware of the threats to Europe's strategic environment. The responsibility for the disaster of Flight MH-17 over Ukraine, which claimed 196 lives in July 2014, was attributed to Russia by an investigative report. As one of the most connected of the European nations, the Netherlands is making cybersecurity one of their priorities, especially following the revelation in early October 2018 of a Russian cyberattack plot against the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) at The Hague.

The Netherlands is also concerned by the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters, and participated in the coalition against Daesh in the Levant, particularly by providing four F-16 fighters. The Netherlands also participated in MINUSMA, though they have now withdrawn from that mission. The Dutch government is participating in EUCAP Sahel Niger together with Germany, so as to finance the establishment of a border control police force. It also announced its willingness to increase its investment in the Sahel by €100 million over the next four years.

Another element we have in common with the Netherlands is the possession of territories in the Caribbean, implying a maritime presence. France and the Netherlands share a border on the island of Saint-Martin, where their armed forces cooperate to provide help to local populations in times of disaster or crisis (such as during hurricane Irma in 2017).

As a result of its threat analysis, the Netherlands is increasing its defence effort (which in 2018 came to 1.3% of GDP), according to guidelines set out in a White Paper published in March 2018 and a Defence Industry Strategy memorandum dated November 2018. This industrial strategy has set priorities for the preservation and strengthening of the Dutch defence industry, particularly in certain key sectors, without excluding the possibility of international cooperation.

2. Armed forces highly integrated into bilateral cooperation arrangements

The armed forces of the Netherlands have a very advanced culture of cooperation.

The Air Force cooperates with the US Air Force (F16, F35, etc.), as well as with the German, Belgian, Norwegian and Luxembourgish Air Forces on the MRTT (8 aircraft purchased jointly).

The Land Army has three brigades, two of which are integrated into German divisions.

The Navy has pooled its organic components (research, development, acquisition, training, readiness exercises, maintenance and replacement parts) with its Belgian counterpart. It has a full range of naval capabilities. The BENESAM agreement72(*) of 10 May 1948 laid the foundations for this co-operation, which has led to genuine integration between the Belgian and Dutch navies. The Netherlands was the first in Europe to have a conventional submarine force, and remains a leading player in this field within the NATO framework.

Alongside its purchase of the F35, which illustrates their Atlanticist posture, the Netherlands has provided several examples of concrete advances in European defence, with strong partnerships, and various aspects of their military capabilities integrated with those of neighbouring nations.

Your rapporteurs observed in their visit to The Hague that the Netherlands is keen to maintain a balance between its three major partners, the United Kingdom, Germany and France; it fears that Brexit may upset this balance, giving excessive weight to the Franco-German couple, and advocates openness rather than exclusiveness in that relationship, in keeping with the spirit of the broader partnership.

The Netherlands plays a leading role in the PESCO military mobility project. It is a participant in the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), which includes eight nations73(*) and is coordinated by the United Kingdom. It also participates in E2I (in particular by its leadership of a working group on the Caribbean), thus further demonstrating its interest in scalable, needs-based cooperation.

France has the opportunity to develop a strategic maritime partnership with the Netherlands in the years to come.

Last March, Naval Group won a €2bn contract to supply twelve minehunters to the Belgian and Dutch navies.

The Netherlands will replace four submarines over the next decade, under conditions that will permit it to maintain high-level submarine capabilities while enhancing and developing Dutch industry, in keeping with the priorities set by the abovementioned Industrial Strategy. A balanced partnership with France, not only at the industrial level, but also at the operational and political level, would be both in the common interest and in the interest of European defence, within both the EU and NATO frameworks.

With its seasoned armed forces and formidable industrial competences, and with its threat analysis converging with ours, the Netherlands is a strong partner, very involved in NATO and in European initiatives. It is a country in regard to which France would have much to gain from a real strategic partnership in the operational, capability, and research and development domains. The planned replacement of the Dutch submarine fleet may offer an opportunity in this regard.


Your rapporteurs were eager to visit Poland, as this country is often cited in the context of the two preconceived analytical frameworks that as we have seen need to be transcended, namely those positing a contradistinction between the European Union and NATO on the one hand, and between the southern and eastern fronts on the other.

1. The interest of preserving the transatlantic bond

Your rapporteurs' Polish interviewees quite naturally emphasised the importance that Poland attaches to the protection offered by NATO, and therefore their interest in maintaining the best possible relationship with the United States at all costs. In this regard, to quote one of the people we spoke with during our visit, “Poland and the Eastern European countries in general face a real and immediate threat. But only the United States is able to provide a rapid response to that threat.”

Like other European countries, Poland is keenly aware of the US strategic pivot, although it draws different conclusions than France does. Where France concludes from the statements made by the US that Europe must prepare to be able to defend itself on its own one day, Poland is primarily concerned to keep any relative disengagement of the US from Europe from taking place, or at least delay it.

2. The beginnings of a strategic awakening?

It was apparent from the discussions your rapporteurs held both in Poland and in the broader NATO context that the Eastern border is not perceived as under threat from a Russian invasion of the European Union, but rather that Russia is constantly working to detach the United States from Europe and divide the European nations. It is therefore incorrect to depict the countries of Eastern Europe as expecting an impending Russian invasion, as certain analyses have done at times. The scenario that is anticipated, rather, is one of repeated and opportunistic attempts to destabilise European countries, especially those closest to Russia. For such purposes, the use of hybrid measures would seem likely to be preferred: cyber-attacks, misinformation, manipulations of political life and elections, espionage, etc.

At the same time, the Eastern European nations have pointed out that the use of force is still always on the table for Russia, as shown by a series of operations from the war of 2008 in Georgia to the Donbass, Crimea, and the recent incident in the Kerch Strait.

One of the interviewees put it quite pragmatically: “We know that the protection offered by the United States may not be unconditional or eternal. But Europe is not currently able to confront the threats to which it is exposed on its own. What we are dealing with here are real threats, not hypothetical ones. So we are forced to maintain the transatlantic bond.”

This is clearly not a rejection of European defence on principle, but rather a concern that mere preparations for a European defence will accelerate a withdrawal of the Americans before such a possible European defence has really become operational and efficient.

Two indications demonstrate this interest in principle for the reinforcement of European defence, although for the time being it is of course still seen only as a minority supplement to American protection: endorsement of the EDF and participation in PESCO. Admittedly, this support always comes with the caveat that such European developments must always be compatible with NATO and not deteriorate the transatlantic relationship. Poland's acceptance of membership in PESCO, furthermore, was accompanied by a letter specifying that its membership was contingent upon compatibility with NATO objectives.

For the time being, Poland is not yet strongly committed to PESCO. But at least it is not hostile to it, within the abovementioned limits.

3. Developing military cooperation with Poland

With an army of 123,000 men and a population of 38 million, Poland could be an important part of European defence. From this perspective, it would undoubtedly be very beneficial for both our countries to intensify our military relations, but also our dialogue on training activities. In this connection it would be a very positive development if young Polish officers could be sent to do part of their basic training activities in France, as is the case for the partnerships we have with Germany or the United Kingdom for example.


1. An indispensable partner

Spain is one of the States most committed to European defence cooperation. In a speech to the European Parliament in January 2019, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called for the creation of “a true European army, emphasising that “the Union must show that it is a soft power by choice, and not because of weakness.” Nevertheless, the country's 2017 National Security Strategy specifically states that the Transatlantic Alliance remains the “foundation of European collective defence.”

In fact, Spain is among the leading States in terms of troops allocated to the missions and operations of the Common Security and Defence Policy. In particular, it has been in command of the maritime operation EUNAVFOR Atalanta since 29 March 2019, and hosts its headquarters at its naval base in Rota (Andalusia). Four Spanish ships participated in this operation in 2018. Moreover, a Spanish general took command of the military training mission EUTM Mali in 2018, to which a total of 1,007 Spanish soldiers were assigned.

Spain provides support for projects intended to strengthen the CSDP, including the establishment of the European Defence Fund and a permanent capacity for planning and operational leadership. It was also one of the founding members of the European Intervention Initiative, launched by France in 2018.

2. A partner with an eye on the south

Spain identifies as one of the main threats to its territory the proximity of failed or unstable States where criminal or terrorist armed groups operate, as well as the destabilisation caused by illegal migration flows. It regularly advocates for NATO and the EU to take into account the challenges and threats facing the southern flank of Europe.

Spain has a particular interest in the Mediterranean - North Africa - Sahel continuum:

- in the Mediterranean, the Spanish Navy actively participates in operation Sea Guardian (a total of 401 soldiers in 2018) and strongly supports the continuation of Operation EUNAVFOR Med Sophia, to which it is one of the main contributors;

- in North Africa and the Sahel:

* In addition to its operational commitment to EUTM Mali, Spain provides logistical support, including air transport, to UN, EU and French operations (Barkhane) from its bases in Gabon and Senegal;

* Spain's Navy works closely with neighbouring nations, and participates in the French Operation Corymbe in the Gulf of Guinea;

* under bilateral agreements, the Spanish Armed Forces conduct training and assistance activities in Cape Verde, Senegal, Mauritania and since 2017 in Tunisia as well;

* Spain is also participating in counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan and Iraq alongside NATO.

Spain is also involved in a NATO advanced forward presence battalion in Latvia, and in Alliance air and anti-missile defence in Lithuania, Turkey and the Mediterranean. It also participates in the UN missions in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and Colombia. On average, over 2018, there were 2,500 Spanish troops simultaneously deployed outside the national territory, at a cost of €1.1 billion.

However, Spain has a limited military budget, estimated at €11.5 billion in 2019 or 0.92% of its GDP, the rising trend in which was broken by the economic crisis of 2008. In January 2018, the government announced its intention to step up its defence efforts and replace the portion of its equipment and weapon systems that has become obsolete. Its budgetary efforts are expected to reach 1.53% of GDP in 2035. Among the priority projects are the construction of its new F-110 frigates, commissioning its S-80 submarines, and expected replacement of its combat aircraft.

3. Franco-Spanish cooperation

France sees Spain as a very close partner in defence matters. The Franco-Spanish Defence and Security Council (CFEDS) was created in 2006; it has taken concrete form via various agreements on defence cooperation, and since 2013, by a roadmap particularly emphasising ambitions for greater alignment of operational capabilities in areas of common interest (the Sahel, the Mediterranean, the Gulf of Guinea - see above) and for strong European defence. In 2017, the two governments reiterated their commitment to strengthening the CSDP.

Spain and France are also conducting joint core capacity projects, notably the European MALE drone project and the Tigre attack helicopter modernisation project. In 2018, Madrid decided to acquire 23 helicopters from the NH90 programme, conducted cooperatively by four European States (France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands).

In March 2019, Spain joined the Franco-German Future Combat Air System (FCAS) project, which is intended to replace the current fleet of combat aircraft by 2035. A natural market might be found here, in connection with Spain's intended replacement of its fighter jet fleet, particularly the EAV-8B Harrier II. Nevertheless, in light of its operational constraints, the Spanish government has not yet ruled out the possibility of purchasing American F-35s.

Spain is a major political, operational and industrial partner for France, one we must rely upon in order to advance European defence.


In the course of their travels, your rapporteurs have become aware of the dynamism of the bilateral and multilateral (also referred to as “minilateral”) cooperation in place among European nations in the defence field. This dynamism is very positive, but it raises the question of the articulation of initiatives and the overall coherence of European defence.


Even after six months of work and seven trips around Europe, it would be an illusion to imagine that we might be able to give an exhaustive view of all the cooperative arrangements in place around the continent, because there are just so many of them. Our report will therefore simply give a few examples to illustrate the dynamism of these initiatives, without claiming to be exhaustive.

1. Multiple regional subgroups

The diagram below illustrates the complexity of the European defence architecture; NATO and the EU are its main pillars, but it includes multiple supporting walls as well.

European defence: a complex architecture












Czech Republic

























United States








United Kingdom

Source: Interview with Alice Guitton and Nicolas Roche

a) Cooperation between neighbouring countries: the example of Romania

We have already mentioned several examples of cooperation between neighbouring countries: bilateral cooperation between France and its European partners, Belgian-Dutch cooperation, and German-Dutch cooperation.

There are many other examples.

Your rapporteurs travelled to Bucharest on the occasion of the Interparliamentary Conference for the CFSP/CSDP, organised by the Romanian Presidency of the European Union.

Romania considers NATO, which it joined in 2004, to be the keystone of its defence policy. Since 2015, it has been home to the command of the Alliance's Multinational Division South-East, as well as to a NATO “Force Integration Unit” (NFIU), and since 2016 has hosted a ballistic missile defence system. At the NATO Summit of 2016, it was resolved that a “Tailored Forward Presence” would be established in South-East Europe, including a multinational brigade in Craiova, bringing together detachments from ten contributing States. Romania has allocated 2% of its GDP to its defence budget since 2017.

Romanians are very concerned about what Russia has been doing in their backyard. Since the nation borders on the Black Sea, which some Romanians fear Russia seeks to turn into an inland sea all of its own, they think of themselves as directly bordering Russia, and have warned us in this context against taking any approach to strategic autonomy that would lead to “strategic isolation.”

Strategic autonomy, they believe, must be a means not to isolate Europe but to strengthen its contribution to NATO.

Romania is engaged in multiple cooperation arrangements with the armed forces of its neighbouring nations:

- A joint Romanian-Hungarian peacekeeping battalion, created in 1999: drawing inspiration from the Franco-German Brigade (FGB, see below), this mixed battalion was established in view of promoting confidence and security between the two armed forces whilst promoting the compatibility and interoperability of their equipment.

- The Multinational Engineer Battalion “TISA, created in 2002 by Slovakia, Ukraine and Hungary.

- The Multinational Peace Forces South-Eastern Europe (MPFSEE) and its operational component, the South-Eastern Europe Brigade (SEEBRIG): created in 1998, this organisation includes the participation of Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Northern Macedonia, Romania and Turkey. Its mission is to conduct peacekeeping operations under the leadership of NATO or the EU, and under the mandate of the UN or the OSCE.

b) A mosaic of initiatives

Outside the EU and NATO, there is a mosaic of plurilateral, variable geometry initiatives that vary enormously in scope. Many of these fall under what is referred to as “minilateralism,” i.e., “cooperation agreements involving between two and ten States, whose basic approach is to involve only a small number of participants and to not require dedicated permanent institutions,”74(*) or to require only light, non-bureaucratic institutions. This is intended to help avoid the blockages associated with the functioning of multilateralism, which generally speaking has been increasingly questioned.

Minilateralism generally involves the participation of neighbouring States that share the same threat perception and similar strategic cultures.

There are several such sub-regional groups in Europe, some examples of which include the following:

- Northern Group: Initiated by the United Kingdom in 2010, this informal group includes States bordering the North Sea and the Baltic Sea: Northern European States (including Sweden and Finland, non-NATO members), the Baltic States, the Netherlands, Poland, the United Kingdom and Germany.

- NORDEFCO (Nordic Defence Cooperation): created in 2009, NORDEFCO brings together the five Nordic States that are members of the Nordic Council (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden). It includes a political cooperation component and a military cooperation component. This is also a model of “à la carte” cooperation.

- Military cooperation of the Visegrad Group countries, known as the V4 (Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia), which includes a Battlegroup (EUBG); the Central European countries are also cooperating in their Central European Defence initiative.75(*)

EU battlegroups are an attempt to federate a wide variety of initiatives. They do at least have this merit, even if they have still never been deployed to date, and are generally considered an EU failure.

2. What rapid reaction force for Europe?
a) Multiple attempts

Among the various multinational initiatives being conducted in Europe, many have the same still-unfulfilled goal: the creation of a rapid reaction force capable of intervening urgently to help maintain or restore peace in the event of a crisis outside EU territory, in place of the ad hoc coalitions that generally play this role.

Europe is casting about in pursuit of a joint reaction capacity, which would clearly be a decisive milestone on the path towards European defence.

Among these attempts, the establishment of the EU Battlegroups (EUBG), previously mentioned in this report is emblematic of the difficulties that have been encountered. They have never been deployed to date because of a lack of political agreement, but have allowed a wide range of multinational contacts to be made that may in time prove fruitful.

We should also mention here the NATO Response Force (NRF), a joint multinational force created in 2002, which the NATO nations decided to strengthen in 2014, creating within it a “Very High Readiness Joint Task Force” (VJTF), commanded by Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR). The EUBGs and the NRF are made up of units assigned to them from the armed forces of the participating countries, which rotate every six months to ensure permanent readiness. NATO is also implementing a new “Readiness Initiative” (NRI), in which France will be a major participant; its intention is to ensure that in 2020 the allies will have 30 mechanised battalions, 30 air squadrons and 30 battleships ready to use within 30 days or less (an initiative known as 4x30).

Here of course we must mention the existence of the Eurocorps, which historically was one of the first attempts to have a European rapid reaction corps, as its creation dates back to 1992, at the initiative of France and of Germany. Comprising 5 Member States (France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg), the Eurocorps is a military staff corps based in Strasbourg, which is intended to command forces engaged in EU or NATO operations. It is able to command up to 60,000 troops, and participates in duty rotations both in the EUBGs and the NRF. This European Corps has participated in NATO operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan, as well as in the framework of EU missions in Mali and the Central African Republic.

Several multinational forces have also been established, with the aim of providing a swift crisis-response:

- The Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF): Created in 2014 under the impetus of the United Kingdom, this force brings together several northern European countries: United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands and the three Baltic States. It was declared fully operational in 2018 and will be conducting exercises in the Baltic Sea this year (Baltic protector).

- The Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF): A Franco-British corps created under the Lancaster House agreements (see above) and comprising 5,000 personnel, the CJEF has the advantage of involving the two largest European military powers, which have similar strategic cultures. It is slated to be declared fully operational by 2020.

- The Franco-German Brigade (FGB): created in 1989, the FGB is a binational unit composed of 5,600 soldiers, 40% of whom are French and 60% German, stationed on both sides of the Rhine, including a staff, six regiments and battalions and one commando company. The FGB intervened as part of the Stabilisation Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina (SFOR), Afghanistan (ISAF) and Kosovo (KFOR). In 2018, the FGB was deployed in Mali: the French section as part of Operation Barkhane, and the German section as part of MINUSMA and EUTM-Mali; this illustrated the difficulties of implementing a multinational force without unifying the cultures and rules of engagement - or in other words, ultimately without political unification.

Such is the question that the European Intervention Initiative (E2I), created in order to bridge strategic cultures, seeks to answer.

b) The European Intervention Initiative

Announced by the President of the Republic during his speech at the Sorbonne on 26 September 2017 and officially launched on 25 June 2018, the European Intervention Initiative (E2I) is a recent illustration of the spirit of minilateralism.

Its aim is to foster the emergence of a European strategic culture, so as to strengthen the capacity of the 10 participating States76(*) to act together to address the full spectrum of crises in the context of jointly organised and coordinated engagements.

The organisation is of a deliberately informal nature, holding regular meetings at several levels, but never establishing itself as an institution. It works to help reinforce NATO and the EU - although it is independent from those two institutions - first of all by improving the capacity of its members to conduct joint military activities, and second by facilitating the emergence of concrete projects, particularly in the framework of Permanent Structured Cooperation. The E2I is also a welcome development in that it allows inclusion of the UK, in spite of Brexit, and of Denmark, in spite of its opt-out from the CSDP.

Your rapporteurs are of the opinion that it is our vital responsibility to work to reconcile strategic cultures, including at the parliamentary level, by multiplying our contacts with all our European partners. They have endeavoured to initiate that approach as part of this report. To give a parliamentary dimension to the E2I, in a flexible, informal context, might be a way to help generalise this approach (all participating countries could be invited) and make it more consistent.

In order to get more countries involved, such as Italy, Poland and other non-member countries of Northern and Eastern Europe, this dialogue amongst national parliaments on military and strategic issues could also be held as part of a European Defence Summer School.

3. Two examples of pooling resources

Two successful examples of the pooling and sharing of resources should be mentioned here: EATC and Helios/Musis. These are operational cooperation arrangements, undertaken with a view to efficiency in rationalising the use of European assets, in the field of military air transport for the one and of space-based observation for the other.

a) Sharing of air transport resources

The EATC (European Air Transport Command), the objective of which is to optimise the use of military air transport resources to generate cost synergies, is a successful example of resource sharing. Pooling the capabilities of multiple countries provides multiple benefits, apart from the obvious synergies. It makes it possible, for example, to choose the most appropriate aircraft to obtain the overflight authorisations required for a given mission, in light of the special relationships that may be in place between countries.

Established in 2010 and based in Eindhoven (Netherlands), the EATC is a unique organisation, bringing together 7 countries (Germany, Belgium, France and the Netherlands since the beginning, Luxembourg since 2012, and Spain and Italy since 2014). The seven member countries manage their military air transport resources under a single command. The fleet is made up of more than 170 aircraft stationed at 13 national air bases, representing 60% of Europe's military air transport capacity. The EATC also conducts air refuelling and medical evacuation missions. States are free to refrain from sharing their full capabilities.

The EATC is in particular to manage the 8 A330 MRTT aircraft of the MMF (Multinational Multi-Role Tanker Transport Fleet) project, which brings together 5 countries (Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway). These aircraft will be operated by the multinational MRTT unit (MMU) and will be co-located at the Eindhoven and Cologne air bases. The capacity portfolio of the EATC will thus be supplied by a multinational force, the MMF project being itself a model for cooperation arrangements within Europe. The flexibility of the arrangement also permits a State that is not an EATC member (Norway) to participate in it anyway, via the support of a participating country.

Exchange of services within the EATC is conducted according to the principles of the ATARES arrangement.77(*) This exchange is based on the notion of Equivalent Flying Hours (EFH) for each national asset. The reference is the cost price of one C-130/C-160 flying hour (EFH=1). Participating countries are expected to provide the ATARES community with as many EFHs as they receive. Thus, under ATARES, for example, a French C130 may fly for Germany (2.4 hours), a German C160 may fly for Belgium (2.4 hours), a Belgian A330 may fly for the Netherlands (1 hour), which may provide a Gulfstream IV to France (3.1 hours). The respective durations on each aircraft represent equivalent entitlements to service.

Source: EATC

Thanks to the replacement of the European transport fleets (A400M, A330 MRTT), the EATC will play a key role in making Europe more autonomous and more responsive in the military air transport domain.

The EATC is a successful example of a directly operational cooperation arrangement established outside the multilateral institutional frameworks. Its success lies in its flexibility, with each State remaining sovereign and entitled to withdraw the assets it shares. This is an unfamiliar example of the success of European defence, which should be replicated in other domains, such as the pooling and sharing of helicopters or medical support resources.

b) Satellite intelligence sharing

Satellite intelligence sharing is clearly in the interest of all European partners. It should also help prevent duplication of capacities.

With its Helios, Pleiades and, soon, Musis-CSO (Optical Space Component) systems, France has space-based optical intelligence capabilities unparalleled in Europe. Agreements signed with Italy (2001) and Germany (2002) allow programming rights to be exchanged between Helios 2 and the COSMO-Skymed (Italy) and SAR-Lupe (Germany) radar systems.

The Helios programme now has five partners: France, Belgium, Spain, Greece and Italy.

General Michel Friedling, Commander of the Joint Space Command, gave an update on this issue during a hearing with your Committee on 13 February 2019:

“In the observation domain, we currently have in service the HELIOS 2 satellites, the twofold constellation PLEIADE, and access to the German SAR-LUPE and COSMO-SkyMed radar services. In the listening domain, the experimental low-orbit satellite constellation ELISA provides our primary capacity, and in the communications domain, the SYRACUSE 3 satellites comprise our sovereign core, supplemented by the Franco-Italian satellite ATHENA-FIDUS, famous for being “poked into” by a Russian satellite in 2017, as well as the services offered by the Italian government satellite SICRAL 2 and under the commercial contract ASTEL-S. Space has never been left out of the military planning law (LPM); indeed, the law devotes €3.6 billion to the full renewal of our military space capabilities over the next seven years: HELIOS 2 will thus be replaced by the MUSIS-CSO programme, whose first satellite was launched last December.”

It is nevertheless regrettable that European cooperation in the satellite field is being disrupted by German efforts to build its own optical observation satellites, with an order having been placed with the German manufacturer OHB for such purpose in 2017.

In addition, the European Union Satellite Centre (EUSC), based in Torrejon de Ardoz, Spain, provides significant support to the CSDP. It supplies products and services based on the use of space assets and collateral data, particularly satellite and aerial imagery, as well as related services.


1. The “European army”: a utopian, even counterproductive project

The idea of ??a European army has been mentioned at the highest level by the leaders of the European Union, on several occasions:

- in 2015 by Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission;

- on 6 November 2018 by Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic (“We will not be able to protect the Europeans unless we decide to have a true European army.”);

- on 12 November 2018 by German Chancellor Angela Merkel (“We have to work on a vision to establish a real European army one day”);

- on 16 January 2019 by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

But an analysis of existing devices shows that we are far from a utopian “European army,” a logical idea, doubtless attractive to some, but unachievable even in the medium term, because such an army would be a sign of highly advanced political unity, which is unlikely to come about very quickly.

The European army is “a dream, which could turn out to be a nightmare,” writes General Pierre de Villiers, former Chief-of-Staff of the Armed Forces.78(*) Your rapporteurs share this opinion. What leader would such a European army obey? What rules of engagement would it follow? Are the people of Europe prepared to risk their lives in such an army? Might it not risk creating an entity that would be more bureaucratic than operational, due to the divisions within the EU?

If the intention is to encourage cooperation agreements and explain them to the general public in simplified terms, it would be better to avoid terms such as “European army,” which are perceived abroad as troubling; your rapporteurs are only all too aware of this fact, because their contacts asked them about it in all the countries they visited.

The essentially federalist idea of ??a European army is of concern to all Europeans who feel an attachment to national sovereignty. But beyond that, these terms are of concern because they provoke a fear that the protection of NATO that is considered to be effective might be progressively replaced by a system that is still not clearly defined, and the fear that American disengagement in a virtual sense may end up leading to American disengagement in a real sense. This is, implicitly, the question that several of our contacts asked.

2. Possible improvements to the existing arrangements

The proliferation of initiatives is at this time a positive state of affairs; it would be illusory to hope to fuse the whole into one completely rationalised system. A progressive, pragmatic approach should instead be preferred, in diversified frameworks (EU or non-EU), whilst maintaining dialogue with all our partners.

a) A new European defence and security treaty?

The idea of ??a Franco-German-British treaty was launched after the referendum on Brexit, in particular to tie British defence to the Franco-German driving force behind the EU, and in so doing to draw in other European countries, rather than exclude them.

Could a Franco-German-British treaty revitalise European defence?

Jean-Dominique Giuliani, President of the Robert Schuman Foundation, has made the following proposal:

“This draft treaty puts forward three innovative suggestions which a Anglo-Franco-German treaty might introduce for the defence and security of Europe:

- To reinforce the effective solidarity of the three leading European powers, which must be the forerunners, but remain open to other European States joining them to provide mutual assistance if they are ever obliged to engage their armed forces;

- To make a concrete commitment to increase their defence efforts to prevent any instability resulting from disarmament,

- To overcome NATO-EU opposition by recognising the liberty of all parties to take such action as they see fit, whether on a bilateral basis or within the European Union framework.”

Source: Fondation Robert Schuman

The participation of the UK in EU defence projects will in any case need to be regulated in the context of a treaty. This treaty, and the treaty that will be established to govern their economic relations, together must comprise the two pillars of the relationship between the EU and the UK.

This treaty could serve to establish the European Security Council that has been called for by both the German Chancellor and the President of the French Republic, a key contribution of which could be to serve as a means for involving the United Kingdom in the handling of foreign and policy and defence issues. The operating procedures such a “Security Council” would follow, however, remain to be defined. How could all interested nations of the EU be made able to participate without causing blockages, i.e., allowing those who want and are able to do so to move forward? Such is the key issue the “Security Council” would need to resolve.

b) Possible focus areas for streamlining

First of all, it must be reaffirmed that the ambitions of NATO and the EU are not contradictory but complementary, and mutually reinforcing. This is clearly apparent from an examination of the complementary nature of art. 42 (7) (EU Treaty) and art. 5 (NATO Treaty), which should prevent any misunderstanding.

In addition to the difference in geographical scope (NATO includes 22 members of the EU), the EU and NATO are set up to intervene in different types of situations, or in support of one another; this must be clearly established and explained, so as to never give the impression that the EU seeks to assume a responsibility that for the time being it is unable to assume, or that European defence is intended to be built against the Americans, which would be absurd.

Among the areas where the respective roles of the EU and NATO differ, the following are noteworthy:

- “High-end” threats, in particular the collective defence of the continent, would seem logically to be a NATO issue, while EU action would seem more appropriate for crisis management matters;

- Situations in which the United States wishes to intervene logically call for NATO action; when the US does not wish to intervene, EU action is in the interest of both the European nations and the Americans.

Security issues in Africa for example may be of greater interest to European countries, where these issues may have direct consequences (terrorism, migration). Furthermore, the EU has a significant advantage for interventions in Africa because of its ability to implement a comprehensive approach, including not only a military dimension but also diplomatic, economic, and development aid dimensions, etc.

From the capability perspective, NATO and EU defence planning needs to be better articulated; the former is a long-standing structured process (the NATO Defence Planning Process, or NDPP), while the second is progressively coming together, but lacks comprehensive policy guidance.

NATO and EU processes in general need to be better articulated. This is an old concern, and one that was expressed by Madeleine Albright when she was Secretary of State of the United States, who emphasised the importance of avoiding the three Ds: “de-linking,” “duplicating” and “discriminating.”

European planning is still governed by a bottom-up rather than a top-down logic - that is, it responds first to the needs of the Member States, rather than systematically acting to fill European capability gaps. Also, European planning is not currently cyclical: it must become so, and align with NATO's planning cycles.79(*)

Between the Global Strategy, the capability processes and the existing operational arrangements in the European Union, there is obviously a missing link, needed to ensure a minimum of overall coherence. The indispensable next step, for which your rapporteurs advocate, is that a White Paper must be prepared. This should be one of the priorities of the new European executive.


Building a European defence implies the acceptance of a certain interdependence, and therefore the establishment of relations of trust between European States. An attempt to push through a turnkey French concept would be doomed to failure. We need to start by getting to know and understand our partners' positions; but this must of course be reciprocal, so as to build trust, which must be based not only on mutual understanding but also on long-term compliance with the commitments made.

We must never fall into the illusion or give the impression that we think Europe could ever become a kind of “France writ large”; this can never be so, since our frames of reference and our ways of thinking, like those of our European partners, stem from our history and our collective instincts.

France must play a leading role in the EU: it has obviously been doing so for a long time, with numerous and fruitful proposals. It must further strengthen its role in NATO, where it has a key position to help balance approaches and advocate for the strengthening of European defence, not against the United States but with it. Everyone on both sides of the Atlantic can understand that this involves a process of strategic empowerment and a rebalancing of relationships.

“The NATO solidarity clause is called Article 5, not Article F-35”:80(*) the defence of Europe cannot be bought with equipment contracts; that would contradict the values ??that have underpinned the solidity of the transatlantic relationship for more than two centuries. Euro-American solidarity must be unconditional, because its aim is to defend a set of values, our civilisation.

Finally, building trust also means getting the peoples of Europe to agree with the aims and methods of European defence. “A Europe that protects” must become a reality. For this purpose, we must begin by changing the “narrative” on European defence, so as to highlight our common interests and our collective actions; not by resorting to any kind of propaganda, of course, but by making an effort to respond to the spread of misinformation and rumours, old phenomena that today have proliferated thanks to digital networking.

It is urgently necessary to jumpstart European public opinion, to explain the security-defence continuum, to highlight Europe's strengths rather than always focusing on its weaknesses, and strive, ultimately, to make advances in European defence before being forced to do so by a major crisis that would make us realise, only all too late, how serious these issues really are.


In its meeting held Wednesday 3 July 2019, the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Armed Forces Committee, presided by Christian Cambon, Chairman, examined the Information Report on European Defence prepared by Ronan Le Gleut and Hélène Conway-Mouret.

Christian Cambon, Chairman. - This morning we will be discussing the Information Report prepared by Ronan Le Gleut and Hélène Conway-Mouret on European defence, the result of a long-term project involving many trips, meetings and hearings.

Ronan Le Gleut, Rapporteur. - European defence is like the proverbial glass: some say the glass is half empty, others say it's half full. My colleague Hélène Conway-Mouret and I spent six months working on these issues, conducting numerous hearings and making seven visits across Europe. This work has led us to cast our lot with those who see the glass half full.

It's true that European defence, which we have sometimes referred to as the “Europe of Defence” [Europe de la défense] (we refer you to the previous report of our Committee, which showed that this concept of a Europe of Defence wasn't working), is something of a chimera, which has been talked about a lot but has at times not seemed to be making much progress.

But when we look at all the initiatives that are underway, in all the various frameworks - European Union, NATO, bilateral, multilateral - it becomes clear that things are in fact moving forward. Of course, this is not taking place according to any careful plan, or as part of a larger overall political scheme, but we must admit that European defence is indeed evolving, in a multifaceted manner, at different speeds and in different configurations in different countries.

One of the first things that struck us was that the traditional French approach, which involves putting forth political concepts and then trying to fit reality to that theoretical framework, is not the best suited to this issue. We have to be pragmatic: if we want a European defence, we would likely be well-advised to pay attention to what other European nations think and take an interested in how our partners perceive the issues.

From this perspective, it seems to us that there are two false debates here that we have to avoid.

The first is the supposed opposition between the European Union and NATO that some have posited. In France, one often hears the assertion that we will need to choose between European defence and the defence provided by NATO. It is important to keep firmly in mind that this supposed opposition is basically an idea exclusive to France, and is not shared by any of our twenty-seven partners in the Union. So, for efficiency's sake, we need to choose our words and our attitudes carefully, so that we do not suggest that we might be hoping for an American withdrawal from Europe, because today the defence of Europe is essentially provided by the United States, which alone accounts for two-thirds of the total military expenditure of NATO countries. Within this budget, the military expenditures specifically devoted to the defence of Europe amount to $36 billion, almost as much as the defence budget of France.

I will not dwell on the issue of nuclear sharing arrangements or the Americans' deployment of ballistic missile defence systems in Europe, but we must look at those issues if we wish to understand the positions of many of our partners around Europe.

France is an exception in this landscape. To us, strategic autonomy goes without saying, and is ultimately guaranteed by our nuclear deterrence. Since the Chequers summit of 1995, several Presidents of the Republic have resolved to take the interests of our European partners into consideration as well in our definition of our vital interests as a nation.

Therefore, we must interpret the debate on burden sharing in the context of American preponderance. The investment that the NATO countries would need to make to ensure their collective defence in the event of a US withdrawal has been estimated at about $300 billion. The debate about strategic autonomy is therefore first and foremost a debate about our capability gaps.

The fact that we depend heavily on the United States for our collective defence is, historically, an anomaly. Since the collapse of the Roman Empire, European countries have always had to provide for their own defence. The current situation, then, is the historical legacy of the Second World War and the Cold War. It may seem paradoxical, but although the end of the Cold War should have put an end to this situation and resulted in the European countries taking charge of their own defence again, just the opposite happened; a time came when the European countries, thinking they could reap the dividends of peace, instead reduced their defence efforts.

Though this situation now seems to be evolving, it is only because of a radical change in context. No one believes in the End of History anymore; on the contrary, we are seeing a return to the traditional attitudes of power - in other words, the great powers tend to prefer power relations, or simply the use of force, over the rule of law.

In this context, the United States' priority is their competition with China, not the security of Europe. A review of defence budgets, furthermore, clearly shows that Russia is not strong enough to compete globally with the United States or China. That's the root of the Americans' drumbeat about burden sharing: the United States needs to be able to focus its resources on its competition with China.

On the other hand, as we have endeavoured to show in our report, there is a contradiction in the Americans' logic here, insofar as the US simultaneously demands that Europe buy American equipment and not develop a real European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB). There is a conflict in the Americans' discourse between their strategic concerns - that Europe must defend itself rather than relying on the United States - and their economic and industrial concerns - Europe must buy American if it wants to be defended by the United States.

The European nations have understood that the American guarantee of protection, formalised in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, is ultimately neither unconditional nor eternal, to quote one parliamentarian from a highly Atlanticist country.

At the same time, Europe must face the threat on its eastern flank, showing renewed vigour in a series of events, including the war in Georgia, the action in Donbass, the annexation of Crimea, the testing of our air and sea borders, the various spying actions and the attempts to manipulate information or elections.

On the southern front, the threat has taken another form, resulting above all from the collapse of States - Iraq, Syria, Libya, Mali - with two key consequences: the long-term organisation of a jihadist terrorist threat capable of striking European soil, and migratory movements into Europe whose unprecedented speed and nature unprecedented have created a deep disturbance in European countries, promoting the growth of xenophobic and populist movements.

And that's the second false debate; there's no need to choose between focusing on the threat from the south or the threat from the east. European defence must be capable of confronting both the east and the south, otherwise there can be no common defence of the European nations. We think that we have partly put this debate behind us, and the expressions of solidarity we have received from our partners in Eastern Europe, in particular through NATO's Enhanced Forward Presence, or EFP), have greatly contributed to that impression.

Hélène Conway-Mouret, Rapporteur. - The third element that has given new impetus to European defence is the pressure generated by Brexit. Indeed, the United Kingdom plays such an important role in the defence of the continent that its planned departure from the European Union has made many other countries aware of our need to do more for our own defence, and above all to do more together.

But, paradoxically, Brexit has also led to a renewed interest by the United Kingdom in European cooperation arrangements. The geographical reality is unavoidable. In order to defend Europe, we need the United Kingdom. That's why we advocate a close relationship between the United Kingdom and European defence, even if it means a departure from the usual frameworks.

We will need to establish a security and defence treaty between the European Union and the United Kingdom to involve it as much as possible, and permit it to participate in European systems, including the European Defence Fund, Permanent Structured Cooperation and Galileo.

We will also have to make sure that any positions France may take with regard to Brexit do not impede our bilateral defence cooperation. In London, several of our interviewees mentioned that there may be some “resentment.” It is essential for the exit of the United Kingdom on 31 October - if it does in fact take place on this date - to go smoothly, so that our bilateral relations can be given new impetus as we celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Lancaster House treaties next year.

Now we come to the second part of our report. Here I would like to point out that rather than relying on the many reports that have been published so far, we wanted to contact our partners directly; and they were very happy to receive us, being somewhat unaccustomed to us actually listening to them.

European defence is multifaceted: it is provided through NATO, but more and more by the European Union as well, and by a multiplicity of operational and capability cooperation arrangements, of which our report gives several examples.

The European Union has become a major player in European defence. This is a historic turning point. The Lisbon Treaty made this development possible, but what really triggered it was Europe's “strategic awakening” after 2014.

First of all, in 2015, France activated the mutual assistance clause of Article 42 paragraph 7 of the Treaty on European Union.

In response, our European partners made numerous contributions to French operations or to EU and UN missions in several theatres of operation, particularly in the Levant and Africa, but also in Lebanon, with the assignment of a Finnish company to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) so as to permit French soldiers to return to France.

This was an unprecedented affirmation of European solidarity.

Before 2015, the activation of that clause was never really considered by the European institutions. At this time it would be beneficial to specify the cases where such an activation might be possible and the application procedures for Article 42 Paragraph 7 based on France's field experience.

In 2016, the Union created a Global Strategy. It explicitly includes an ambition for strategic autonomy, which is thus not just some French fantasy but a goal that our partners also share.

Paradoxically, only three missions and operations have been conducted under the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) since 2015; these have nevertheless had tangible results, particularly in the case of Operation Sophia. The partial suspension of this operation is unfortunate, and makes no sense since it is a direct illustration of the security-defence continuum and of a “Europe that protects.” We don't need to go back over the political conflicts that resulted in the vessels being taken out of service, thus depriving the mission of its information sources and capacity to act, and preventing it from implementing the arms embargo against Libya.

The development of the Global Strategy was followed by the March 2018 launch of Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) by twenty-five Member States with regard to thirty-four projects.

This more inclusive PESCO is not what France had in mind, and does not comply with the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty, which had stipulated that it would be limited to “Member States whose military capabilities fulfil higher criteria.”

So while this is not the vanguard group initially envisioned, all our contacts in Europe told us that their opinion about it is positive, and that in itself is already an accomplishment.

PESCO is simply lacking comprehensive policy guidance to make it an orderly process for filling the Union's capacity gaps. It must be part of an overall planning process, and not correspond exclusively to a process of industrial return for Member States.

Moreover, we advocate a clear reaffirmation of the binding nature of the commitments made by States in the context of PESCO. The participating countries agreed on a list of twenty commitments, in which they undertake in particular to increase their investment and research expenditure in the defence domain and develop the interoperability of their forces, but also to reinforce Europe's strategic autonomy and its defence technological and industrial base.

I would now like to touch on a point that was of great interest to us in our work, and which many of the people we heard considered to be revolutionary: the European Commission's initiative to create a European Defence Fund (EDF). This initiative was launched in 2016 and formalised in 2018; it was approved by the Council in February and by Parliament in April. It will involve the provision of a fund to support defence research; it has been proposed that €13 billion be earmarked for this purpose for the period 2021-2027. These amounts, which still need to be confirmed by the new European Parliament, would break down into €4.1 billion for the pure research segment, and €8.9 billion for the R&D segment.

Community funding for this R&D segment would be around 20%. There would therefore be a leverage effect, since Member States would contribute the remaining 80%.

This scheme includes preparatory action on defence research on the one hand, and the European defence industrial development programme on the other; these two arrangements have served as prototype projects for the EDF.

There are two fundamental peculiarities in these arrangements: it is the first time that Community money will be used to finance a defence policy, and this is a major turning point that brings the European Union back to its original vocation, i.e., as an organisation intended to protect the peoples of Europe from war; in addition, to be eligible, a project must be submitted by companies from at least three different countries, which means that the Community money will go to finance the construction of a true EDTIB. In addition, projects will have to compete for credits assessed on the basis of these criteria, including the extent to which they constitute breakthrough innovations or contribute to European strategic autonomy.

As one analyst pointed out, as a result of this leverage effect, the funding would ultimately come to quite a significant amount. For the R&D segment, funding from Member States would come to €35.6 billion, for a total of €44.5 billion in defence R&D funding for the period, all toward funding cooperation amongst European countries.

Quite a remarkable system. Nevertheless, a few critical checks will be necessary: first of all, the new European Parliament will have to validate these credits; secondly, the projects will have to be selected for their effectiveness, not just to ensure cohesion; and lastly, national parliamentarians will have to remain vigilant to ensure that this new contribution of funds for defence R&D does not become an excuse for budget ministries to correspondingly reduce credits of a purely national nature.

Finally, there remains the particularly sensitive issue of the status of third States, i.e., countries that are not members of the Union. This would concern two countries in particular, for different reasons: the United States and the United Kingdom.

As for the United States, the situation is simple: they are naturally extremely hostile to this device because they do not have access to it. Nevertheless, it is perfectly logical: there's certainly no reason why European taxpayers should finance the R&D of American companies! The explanation for this hostility lies rather in the Americans' fear about the possible emergence of a real EDTIB, built around European industry leaders who would in the future find it easier to appeal to European clients, insofar as they would necessarily bring together several EU countries, and for larger projects even a majority of those countries. And our American friends are fully aware that this will mean tougher competition! The fight still isn't over, but this is an unprecedented step forward for European defence.

Ronan Le Gleut, Rapporteur. - A last point we thought it would be useful to provide some perspective on is our strategic partnership with Germany in regard to capabilities.

As you know, France is committed to building the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) and the future Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) in cooperation with Germany. Doubtless like many of you here today, we have become aware of several serious difficulties that have arisen in the course of these projects. These difficulties have primarily to do with some of our German counterparts' questioning of the distribution of tasks and control responsibilities for these projects.

We must be clear: these projects cannot serve as an opportunity for Germany to gain skills that it lacks and are currently possessed by France, or present an opportunity for Rheinmetall, in the case of MGCS, to take control of KMW+Nexter Defence Systems (KNDS). According to the information we have gathered, these difficulties originate less in the executive as in the Bundestag, probably as a reflection of local interests.

And lastly, I would like once again to go back over the difficulties we have encountered with our German partners in terms of exports, as we discussed in committee last week.

These two projects are very ambitious and long-term. They will only succeed if they are balanced and beneficial to both partners. It will be up to us as parliamentarians to make sure that the Government holds this line, and also to relay this message to our colleagues and friends in the Bundestag.

Mr Chairman, last week you informed us that you intend to take up this issue with your counterpart: your rapporteurs assigned to the “European Defence” project fully support you in this.

According to a document published by NATO on 25 June 2019, Germany's defence budget has now for the first time exceeded that of France: €47.3 billion compared to €44.3 billion. This is explained by the increase in German GDP: the expenditures represent 1.35% of their GDP, compared to 1.84% of ours.

Hélène Conway-Mouret, Rapporteur. - In conclusion, I would like to emphasise the significance and novelty of the developments we are witnessing. European defence has progressed more in the last three years than in the previous twenty. As one researcher we interviewed put it, twenty years ago no one could have imagined that today we would be having these kinds of discussions about European strategic autonomy and European defence.

Much remains to be done, but undoubtedly things are moving in the right direction.

We have come up with twelve proposals, which we will now present.

To reinforce the commitments of each country and to forge the elements of a European defence based on existing initiatives, work must be done for the collective preparation of a European White Paper on Defence, a link that is currently missing in the chain between the EU's Global Strategy, its capacity processes, and its existing operational mechanisms.

Ronan Le Gleut, Rapporteur. - We should create the conditions for a greater visibility of defence issues within European institutions, by establishing a Directorate-General for Defence and Space, or creating a post of European Commissioner or Deputy to the High Representative in these domains, and by recognising a “Defence” format of the Council, which today handles defence issues in its “Foreign Affairs” format.

Hélène Conway-Mouret, Rapporteur. - Multiply exchanges and training systems as well as joint military exercises across all of Europe, which is essential to building a shared strategic culture. At the military level, France should participate in the military Erasmus system, and create a European session on a basis provided by the Institute of Advanced Studies in National Defence (IHEDN) to develop a common strategic vision for future decision-makers, and progressively increase the enrolment capacity of our military colleges in order to facilitate joint officer training, and step up contact with our European partners, for example by setting up a European defence summer school, which could provide a forum for reflection and parliamentary exchange.

Ronan Le Gleut, Rapporteur. - As a result of Brexit, a new position should be created at NATO, a Deputy to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), assigned to a representative of an EU Member State in addition to the already existing post, traditionally held by a representative of Britain.

Mme Hélène Conway-Mouret, Rapporteur - Better articulate European capacity planning processes, rendering them cyclical and consistent with the long-established, structured process of NATO.

Ronan Le Gleut, Rapporteur. - The Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) should be revitalised, by concentrating resources where the European Union has the highest added value, as is the case in Africa thanks to the EU's “global approach,” combining a military component with diplomatic, economic and development assistance components. Expand the resources allocated to the recently created Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC).

Hélène Conway-Mouret, Rapporteur. - Defend the budget proposed for the European Defence Fund (EDF) in the next multiannual financial framework 2021-2027, i.e., €13 billion. These credits will need to be granted to projects of excellence chosen for their contribution to the European strategic autonomy and the consolidation of the EDTIB, and should not be allocated in small amounts to a variety of recipients in view of promoting cohesion. Ensure that the EDF serves only the industrial interests of Europe. Plan a project specifically focussed on Artificial Intelligence, a cross-cutting concern that may also involve States with little or no defence industry.

Ronan Le Gleut, Rapporteur. - Act to ensure to the extent possible that permanent structured cooperation will be an approach capable of filling the capacity gaps of the European Union, consistent with the White Paper proposed above, and reaffirm the binding nature of the commitments made by States in that framework, particularly with regard to their procurement strategies, which must be favourable to the development of the EDTIB.

Hélène Conway-Mouret, Rapporteur. - Clarify the functioning of Article 42 Paragraph 7 of the Treaty on European Union by assigning an informational and coordinating role to a specific European Union body, for example the High Representative. Conduct an upstream analysis of the possibilities for the activation of this article, as well as the procedures for providing the assistance requested, in consideration of the lessons learned from France's activation of the article in 2015.

Ronan Le Gleut, Rapporteur. - Propose as a top priority for the EU the establishment of a defence and security treaty with the UK, as a vital partner of European defence to which we must offer flexible solutions to enable it to participate as much as possible in EU systems - EDF, PESCO, Galileo, etc.

Hélène Conway-Mouret, Rapporteur. - Major Franco-German industrial projects are key elements in the future of European defence. But for those projects to succeed, we must be frank and candid in our discussions with our German partner, because unless we have a clear agreement on export rules and maintain a balanced industrial distribution in the long term - in other words, unless legal and economic security is ensured - these projects will not be able to continue. These projects must serve as a starting point to allow other European partners to join in and help build a veritable European consortium.

Ronan Le Gleut, Rapporteur. - Preference and encouragement should be given to adaptable mechanisms, whether inside or outside the EU, i.e., spontaneous cooperation or pooling mechanisms, like those established in the field of military air transport, i.e., the European Air Transport Command at Eindhoven (EATC), whose underlying principle should be extended to other areas - helicopters and medical support, for example.

Hélène Conway-Mouret, Rapporteur. - We wanted to approach this subject on a political level rather than on a capability level, so as to make this report different from the many others that have been published previously, and instead to make it an extension of the excellent report published in 2013.

Christian Cambon, Chairman. - I thank our rapporteurs for their thorough work and for providing updates for a good amount of data concerning the Europe of Defence. We endorse your proposals. We appreciate how pertinent and productive the regular meetings we had with our English colleagues were in helping us to understand Brexit better. We observe that in contrast, communication with our German friends has been somewhat lacking. I will be meeting with my German counterpart next Monday, and I hope we will be able to iron out our difficulties in this area.

The EDF, likewise, must serve to benefit the EDTIB; indeed, manufacturers have pointed out the increased risk that Americans, amongst others, may win contracts through subsidiaries based in Europe.

A new defence treaty will inevitably be signed with the United Kingdom after Brexit; all signs suggest that this intention is shared.

As for experimenting with sharing mechanisms such as the EATC, I support the idea. We should build Europe like we did with the Motorised Capabilities agreement (CAMO): that's what I'd call brick and mortar politics. I spoke this week on the subject of the MALE drone: to compete with the Reaper, we need a light drone; the Germans have proposed a drone for urban surveillance use weighing eleven tons and equipped with two engines, which would make it difficult to export.

Before anyone else speaks now, I have to remind you all that I have been ordered by the Bureau to strictly enforce speaking time. However, we have unanimously agreed that we will only use the one speaker per group procedure when there are time constraints.

Joel Guerriau. - This presentation breaks with the pessimistic atmosphere we have seen in previous years. A number of indications would seem to suggest that we are finally headed in the right direction. The creation of the European fund is a major event. Beyond that, what else have you heard in the discussions you have held with your contacts that would be likely to reinforce this optimism?

Olivier Cigolotti. - Thank you for the foresight shown in this report and the objectivity of your proposals. You stated that no European State is capable of supporting its own DTIB, hence the interest of a EDTIB to rise to the challenge posed by States like Russia and China. However, we get the sense that European defence is a source of fear as much externally - Mr Trump regularly refers to a possible exit from NATO, and Washington accuses the European Union of excluding American firms from defence projects - as internally, with Member States still harbouring illusions as to their sovereignty. Can these fears be overcome?

André Vallini. - European Defence, a Europe of Defence: all this brings to mind the issue of arms exports, especially to Saudi Arabia. Europe needs to harmonise its positions; between Germany declaring that it no longer exports any, but does so through intermediary nations, and France continuing its exports when it is no longer supposed to do so.

As for the European Defence Fund, will every country be able to undertake initiatives in the military equipment, armaments and defence research and development fields whilst being subsidised by Europe, or will a minimum number of countries need to be involved?

Hélène Conway-Mouret, Rapporteur. - At least three countries.

Ladislas Poniatowski. - You say that the Germans' defence budget is superior to ours. Where are these €47 billion going? Half of their submarine fleet is sitting in their ports!

Christian Cambon, Chairman. - All of it!

Ladislas Poniatowski. - Is there not perhaps a hidden subsidy going to German arms manufacturers, which are particularly successful, sometimes even beating our own?

Richard Yung. - Maybe they're using it to pay retirement pensions!

As has been pointed out, the British wish to continue participating in the European defence effort. But it's hard to imagine what that participation would look like. We tried to build an aircraft carrier with them, and it didn't work out.

Joëlle Garriaud-Maylam. - Thank you for this very interesting report, following in the wake of the report from 2013, which referred to the “Europe of Defence” as a “conceptual hodgepodge, untranslatable for our European partners.” That's still the case, in a way; the European nations don't want anything to do with it, and the Americans have been exerting considerable pressure, again recently on the European Parliament regarding procurement.

At the last meeting of the board of directors of the Institute of Advanced Studies of National Defence (IHEDN), it was announced that some downsizing was on the horizon, especially internationally. How then must we move forward?

On the subject of the FCAS, it will include some nuclear components. Germany has taken an antinuclear position. How can this contradiction be overcome?

Robert del Picchia. - Part of the German military budget is intended to go to fund civilian research centres with a dual activity that may be of benefit to the military. I am thinking of one example in particular, near Munich.

As for a White Paper, sure, but it'd be quite a massive undertaking! Just as one example, what would Austria want to see in it, given that permanent neutrality is written into its constitution?

Hélène Conway-Mouret, Rapporteur. - Many of our interviewees were surprised that we came to listen to them, since they had long been accustomed to France being proactive as a source of proposals. The overall feeling was positive. But we were surprised by some of our meetings. Our contact at the Bundestag, a spokesperson for defence issues with the SPD, upheld the idea of ??a European army, which we hadn't expected. In Poland, our interviewees' position can be explained by history. The Poles believe no European defence is possible without the Americans. So they hope to build an American base, to be managed by the Americans, with missiles whose deployment would be decided by the Americans. One of our contacts remarked that Poland acts as if it were an American state on European territory.

Ronan Le Gleut, Rapporteur. - We had surprises on all our trips. The ideas put forth by some of our interviewees had us nearly falling out of our seats. The SPD MP mentioned by Hélène Conway-Mouret told us he would be in favour of a European army created from scratch. That is an idea we absolutely do not support. The SPD is part of the ruling coalition in Germany, but he did specify that this was simply his personal opinion. It should be emphasised that a profound pacifist movement exists within the SPD, which has a considerable influence on German policy. Later, an MP with the CSU told us that his party had publicly put forth the opinion that it was in favour of a European army.

In Romania and Poland our interviewees told us that they are worried about the threat from their eastern flank.

Christian Cambon, Chairman. - Wolfgang Hellmich, Chairman of the Bundestag Defence Committee, has told us that according to a recent poll, 86% of Germans want to see the repatriation of German forces deployed abroad, particularly in the context of United Nations operations, to be brought home. The positions of German MPs are fragmented, contrary to what we see here.

Hélène Conway-Mouret, Rapporteur. - In response to Olivier Cigolotti, we did observe a willingness to move forward on the EDTIB. Admittedly, there is some reluctance for economic reasons - certain countries have neither an armament industry nor the ability to invest. Similarly, some eastern European countries fear irritating the Americans - Donald Trump, who is very unpredictable, has already threatened to leave NATO. The EDF will allow assistance to be provided to a number of countries. If the projects in the innovation and research fields, which must be presented by at least three countries - one lead nation and two others - are ultimately approved, they will be provided with support from the EDF for up to 20% of their costs. We have emphasised the importance of artificial intelligence and digital technology, which require an investment that is less significant at the outset.

The feeling of being part of a greater European family may also help allay fears.

Ronan Le Gleut, Rapporteur. - Indeed, some of our interviewees did give us the sense that European defence might be seen as intimidating. Ever since Barack Obama's speech on the Asia Pivot, US policy has gone in this new direction, and has been unchanged since. The statements made by Donald Trump, which seemed to indicate that Article 5 of the NATO Treaty would not automatically be applied in the event of an attack on Montenegro, loomed large in all our interviewees' minds. One response to this, and this has been the position taken by France, is to consider that Europe will not be able to count on the United States to ensure its security forever, and will one day have to take more control of it. Other States want to do everything possible to prevent this trend, considering that the promotion of European defence might accelerate a possible American withdrawal. How can these differences be overcome? We mentioned the thirty-four permanent structured cooperation projects that are now moving forward, or the European Defence Fund - for which the European Commission has proposed to earmark €13 billion over the period 2021-2027. The idea of ??this fund is to create a European base, based on projects handled by manufacturers from at least three different countries. If the project is among the thirty-four projects we just mentioned, it will receive an additional bonus. The same applies if manufacturers enlist the services of SMEs or mid-size companies from other countries, in which case that investment may come to 50%.

Ladislas Poniatowski has raised a very significant point: manufacturing is the most important thing for Germany. One in seven German people work for the automotive industry! We should also point out that German soldiers are generally paid more than French soldiers, and enjoy a higher level of comfort in their military barracks. The Germans don't spend their money on external operations - Germany has only 3,300 men assigned to overseas operations, while France has 10,000.

We also need to discuss the Eurodrone, now being worked on by France, Italy, Spain and Germany, with each of those countries having committed to advance orders so as to help finance the project: seven for Germany, five for Italy and Spain and four for France.

Hélène Conway-Mouret, Rapporteur. - The Director General of the European Defence Agency told us that the United Kingdom has never been more proactive in presenting defence projects than it has been since the Brexit vote! By leaving the European Union, the British will lose all their access to the systems in place. The idea of establishing a treaty is to help the British army - with which we are very familiar thanks to overseas operations missions and joint training actions - be given access to these systems, so as to help bind the United Kingdom to the European continent.

Ronan Le Gleut, Rapporteur. - The United Kingdom is France's natural partner in many ways. We are permanent members of the UN Security Council, and we possess atomic weapons, with similar doctrines of use. We do not have such a degree of similarity with any other country.

We endorse the idea of the United Kingdom participating in a European security council, an idea developed by French and German leaders. We must ensure that the UK remains anchored in European security and defence policy, if only for geographical reasons.

Hélène Conway-Mouret, Rapporteur. - We work closely with the United Kingdom in the intelligence field, and must not dissociate security and defence.

Ms Garriaud-Maylam, you are quite familiar with the IHEDN, as an administrator at that Institute. Our proposal would be to create a kind of European IHEDN in Brussels, based on the French model, which would bring together members of the armed forces, senior officials and civilians for a one-year period. The system works very well and helps to raise the awareness of future decision-makers of defence and security issues.

Joëlle Garriaud-Maylam. - Most countries would tell you that such a structure would be useless given the existence of NATO. In any case, that was the answer its Secretary General gave me when I asked him about complementarity between the European Union and NATO in defence matters. He told me that after Brexit, 85% of European defence would be provided by countries outside the European Union.

Hélène Conway-Mouret, Rapporteur. - Nothing would prevent us from starting with two or three countries.

Joëlle Garriaud-Maylam. - We must nevertheless keep in mind that Brexit is going to significantly reduce the United Kingdom's budget, and it may not have the resources to keep advancing.

Ronan Le Gleut, Rapporteur. - On the subject of the FCAS, we should point out that although few Germans are aware of this, German pilots could end up required to fly jets carrying nuclear weapons stored on their territory, and that training is taking place on a daily basis.

Mr Robert del Picchia's remarks are entirely reasonable. We often use terms that are untranslatable or difficult to translate, such as “Europe de la défense,” and others may not understand them in the same way from one country to the next. This is why we must work to clear up this hazy situation, which would be the object of this European White Paper: we need to define a set of terms that everyone can agree on.

We previously thought that European nations could be classified into two categories: those who fear a southern threat and those who fear an eastern threat. We have observed that there is a third category: those who do not feel threatened at all. It will be difficult, then, to find common solutions on that basis.

Hélène Conway-Mouret, Rapporteur. - The idea of ??the White Paper is to get everyone to come to the table, so as to avoid duplication with NATO. The Sorbonne speech of the President of France and his statements on the subject of a European army led us to discuss this subject. This White Paper must also help keep France from being perceived as wanting to impose its vision on all other countries. We need to start thinking strategically at the European level: in a number of countries, strategic autonomy is seen as a real red flag, and as synonymous with independence from the United States.

Christian Cambon, Chairman. - Thank you again for this work, which updates the Committee's knowledge and does it credit. A summary of this report will be translated.

André Vallini. - This report reminds me of the one we prepared in 2013 with our former colleagues Xavier Pintat, Jacques Gautier and Daniel Reiner.

Hélène Conway-Mouret, Rapporteur. - You all feature prominently in our report!

Christine Prunaud. - I congratulate you on this work and the interest it has attracted. Nevertheless, we will vote against it. I did appreciate the reservations you expressed in regard to a European defence being run by France and Germany only; it would be desirable for other countries to have decision-making power. My group's concern is that we would want to know how independent this European defence would be from NATO, an organisation whose utility we dispute. Who will be in command? Who will handle the governance of this future European defence? NATO? What strategic independence from NATO would it provide?

Christian Cambon, Chairman. - A constructive opposition, then...

Gisèle Jourda. - For my part, I abstain.

The Committee authorises the publication of the Information Report.


Wednesday 16 January 2019

· Hubert VÉDRINE, former Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Wednesday 23 January 2019

· Nicolas ROCHE, Director of Strategic Affairs, Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEAE).

Wednesday 30 January 2019

· Florence MANGIN, Director for Continental Europe, Marie DUMOULIN, Deputy Director for Russia/Eastern Europe, Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEAE).

Tuesday 5 February 2019

· Admiral Eric CHAPLET, Naval Advisor, Marketing Director, Fabien MENANT, Vice-President, Director of Public Affairs and International Relations, Naval Group.

Wednesday 6 February 2019

· Barbara KUNZ, researcher at the French Institute for International Relations (IFRI).

Tuesday 12 February 2019 (The Hague)

· Philippe LALLIOT, Ambassador of France to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Florence LEVY, Lead Advisor, Colonel Sylvain NOGRETTE, Defence Attaché.

· Han TEN BROEKE, Director of Political Affairs at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies.

· Trineke PALM, researcher at the University of Utrecht.

· M. Joris VOORHOEVE, Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV) - Clingendael Institute and The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies.

· Joep WIJNANDS, Director General of Policy and Christoffer JONKER, Director of International Affairs; Brigade General DE JONG, Head of International Relations at the EMA (Ministry of Defence).

· Sven KOOPMANS, MP (VVD), President of the France-Netherlands Friendship Group and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson for the VVD (Liberal Party).

· André BOSMAN, Liberal MP (VVD), Member of the Defence Committee, Defence Spokesperson for the VVD party.

· Lieutenant General Hubert de REVIERS DE MAUNY, Chief of Staff for Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum (NATO).  

· Air Division General Laurent MARBOEUF, Commander at European Air Transport Command (EATC) Eindhoven.

· J.P. KLEIWEG DE ZWAAN, Deputy Director General for Political Affairs, Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

· J.G. VLIETSTRA (PvdA), Chair of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Development Cooperation Committee, Senate (Eerste Kamer), S. SCHAAP (VVD), First Vice-President.

· E.B. van APELDOORN (SP), President of the European Affairs Committee, Senate (Eerste Kamer).

Thursday 14 February 2019

· Philippe SETTON, Director for the European Union, Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEAE).

Thursday 21 and Friday 22 February 2019 (Brussels)

· Nicolas SURAN, Permanent Representative for the Permanent Representation of France at the Political and Security Committee (PSC).

· Ana GOMES, Member of the European Parliament's Subcommittee on Security and Defence.

· Emmanuel MIGNOT, Deputy Permanent Representative, PR-NATO.

· M. Camille GRAND, Assistant Secretary General (NATO).

· Gabriel BERNIER, Secretary General's Office (NATO).

· Hans-Dieter LUCAS, Permanent Representative (PR-NATO for Germany).

· Hélène DUCHENE, Permanent Representative (PR-NATO for France).

· Jonathan PARISH, Deputy Assistant Secretary General, Operations Division (NATO).

· Colonel Erik CLAESSEN, General Directorate of Material Resources (Belgian General Staff).

· Mariusz KARASINSKI, Permanent Representative of Poland to the Political and Security Committee (PSC).

· Fabrice COMPTOUR, advisor, cabinet of Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska (common market, industry, entrepreneurship, SMEs).

· Symeon ZAMBAS, Military Training Manager (European Security and Defence College).

· Pedro SERRANO, Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS).

· Arnaud MIGOUX, Senior Expert, European External Action Service (EEAS).

· Claude-France ARNOULD, Ambassador of France to Belgium.

· Jorge Manuel DOMECQ, Director-General of the European Defence Agency.

Tuesday 5 March 2019

· Nicolas GROS-VERHEYDE, journalist, Editor in Chief of B2.

Thursday 7 March 2019 (Bucharest)

· Simona COJORACU, Director, Directorate for Defence Policy, Romanian Ministry of Defence.

Friday 8 March 2019 (Bucharest)

· Ana Cristina TINCA, Director of Security Policy at the Romanian Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Tuesday 12 March 2019

· Pierre HAROCHE, researcher at the Strategic Research Institute of the French Military Academy (IRSEM).

Wednesday 13 March 2019

· Federico SANTOPINTO, Head of Research at the Group for Research and Information on Peace and security (GRIP).

· Alexandre ESCORCIA, Deputy Director of the Centre for Analysis, Planning and Strategy (CAPS).

Thursday 14 March 2019

· Eric BELLOT DES MINIERES, Deputy Chief for Planning, François BEAULIEU, Subdirectorate for Planning, Stéphane MARCHENOIRE, Operational Coherence Officer-Combat Engagement for the General Staff of the Armed Forces (EMA).

Tuesday 19 March 2019

· Louis GAUTIER, chief advisor to the Court of Auditors, author of a report to the President of the Republic on European defence and security.

· Jean-Pierre MAULNY, Deputy Director at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations (IRIS France).

· Eric TRAPPIER, President and CEO of Dassault Aviation, President of GIFAS, President of CIDEF, Pierre BOURLOT, Delegate General (GIFAS), Jérôme JEAN, Director of Public Affairs (GIFAS), Bruno GIORGIANNI, Director of Public Affairs (Dassault).

Tuesday 26 March 2019

· Jean-Dominique GIULIANI, President of the Fondation Robert Schuman.

· Antoine BOUVIER, President and CEO, MBDA France, Patricia CHOLLET, Parliamentary Relations Manager.

Tuesday 2 April 

· Philippe DUHAMEL, Deputy Director-General of THALES.

Wednesday 3 April 2019

· Alice GUITTON, Director-General of the General Directorate for International Relations and Strategy (DGRIS), Ministry for the Armed Forces.

Wednesday 10 April 2019

· Anne-Marie DESCÔTES, Ambassador of France to Germany, and Nikolaus MEYER-LANDRUT, Ambassador of Germany to France.

Wednesday 10 April 

· François HOLLANDE, former President of the Republic.

Monday 6 May (Berlin) 

· Doctor Fritz FELGENTREU, Spokesman for the SPD on the Defence Committee.

· Markus WOELKE, in charge of the CSDP, the Franco-German Defence and Security Council, and relations with European Union Member States for security policy issues.

· Joachim BERTELE, Deputy Diplomatic Advisor, with responsibility for security and defence issues.

· Andreas Géza von GEYR, Political Director.

· Henning OTTE, spokesperson for the CDU on the Defence Committee.

· Claudia MAJOR, researcher at the SWP Foundation.

Tuesday 7 May (Berlin) 

· Nils SCHMID, Spokesman for the SPD at the Foreign Affairs Committee, Reinhardt BRANDL, MP with the CSU and specialist in the armaments field, and Julia MONAR, Director for Arms Export Control.

Thursday 9 May (Rome)

· Lucio DEMICHELE, Head of the CFSP-CSDP Department at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

· Donatella TESEI, President of the Senate Subcommittee on Defence.

· At the Leonardo corporation: Giovanni SOCCODATO, Director of Strategy and Carlo FORMOSA, Vice-President in charge of International Relations.

· Rear Admiral Olivier BODHUIN, Deputy Commander, Sophia.

· Thierry TARDY, NDC.

· General Pascal LEGAY, ESA.

Friday 10 May (Rome)

· At the Ministry of Defence: General Mauro D'UBALDI, Deputy Chief of Staff, Nicoletta BOMBARDIERE, Minister's Office, Rear-Admiral Gianfranco ANNUNZIATA, Head of the Office of Military Policy, Dr. Luisa RICCARDI, Deputy Chief of Staff.

· IAI: General CAMPORINI, former Chief of Staff of the Italian Armed Forces.

· FINCANTIERI: Andrea MANCIULLI, Vice-President, EU and NATO Relations.

Tuesday 14 May

· Joël BARRE, Delegate General for Armaments (DGA), Robin JAULMES, Technical Advisor.

Wednesday 15 May

· Frédéric MAURO, attorney at the Paris and Brussels Bars, expert on defence issues.

Thursday 16 May (London)

· Tom TUGENDHAT, MP, Chairman of the International Affairs Committee,

· Daniel DRAKE, Euro-Atlantic Security Policy Unit, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), Ministry of Defence (MOD),

· Jonathan BEALE, BBC,

· Kim SENGUPTA, The Independent, Nick Childs, IISS.

Friday 17 May (London)

· Francis KEARNEY, Director Business Development and Future Programmes - Europe and Africa Defence - Rolls-Royce plc.

· Julian LEWIS, MP, Chairman of the Defence Committee.

· André ADAMSON, Head of UK-France (One Complex Weapons), MBDA.

· Jeremy GREAVES, Vice-President, Corporate Affairs & Strategy, Airbus Group UK.

Tuesday 4 June

· Vassilis NTOUSAS, Senior Policy Advisor, European Foundation for Progressive Studies, and Nicoletta PIROZZI, Director of the “EU, Policies and Institutions” programme at the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI).

Wednesday 5 June (Warsaw)

· Lucyna GOLC-KOZAK and Marcin WROBLEWSKI, Assistants to the Director of Security Policy at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

· Mathieu CARMONA, Chief Advisor at the French Embassy.

· Fabrice LEGGERI, Managing Director of Frontex.

· Pawel SZOLOCH, Head of the National Security Office.

· Lukasz JURCZYSZYN and Marcin TERLIKOWSKI, researchers at PISM (Government Institute for International Relations).

Thursday 6 June (Warsaw)

· Tomasz SZMIGIELSKI, Advisor to the Political Director, Ministry of Defence.

· Jaroslaw RUSIECKI, Chairman of the Defence Committee of the Senate, Jerzy CHRÓOECIKOWSKI, Marek PÊK and Jan DOBRZYÑSKI, senators, and Jaroslaw OBREMSKI, vice-chairman of the International and EU Affairs of the Senate.

Tuesday 11 June

· General Jérôme LOCKHART, General Officer in charge of International Relations, Army Staff.

· Philippe COQ, Permanent Secretary General for Public Affairs at Airbus.

· Stéphane MAYER, President and CEO of NEXTER and President of GICAT.

Tuesday 25 June

· General François LECOINTRE, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces.


The Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) provides for a role for the European Union (EU) in peacekeeping, conflict prevention, and the strengthening of international security. Pursuant to Article 42-1 of the TEU, the CSDP “shall provide the Union with an operational capacity drawing on civilian and military assets. The Union may use them on missions outside the Union for peace-keeping, conflict prevention and strengthening international security in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter.”

Since 2003, the Member States have thus launched 33 missions and operations. As of June 2019, 16 missions or operations remain on-going in Africa, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean, the Balkans and Eastern Europe. Decisions regarding the CSDP are made unanimously by the Council upon the proposal of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy or upon the initiative of a Member State.

10 of these missions are civilian. Civilian missions focus on the training of third country security forces or on strategic advisory activities. These missions are financed by the EU budget as part of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).

Name of mission


First mandate



Palestinian Territories


To ensure a neutral presence at the Rafah crossing point; training for Palestinian border guards.


Palestinian Territories


Mission to provide support to police and strategic advisory services.

EUMM Georgia



Ceasefire monitoring; facilitating a return to “normal” life for communities.

EUCAP Sahel Niger



To strengthen internal security capabilities (advice and training).

EUCAP Somalia



To strengthen local maritime police capabilities.




To support border management.

EUCAP Sahel Mali



To strengthen internal security capabilities (advice and training).

EUAM Ukraine



To assist the Ukrainian authorities in the reform of the civil security sector.

EULEX Kosovo



To assist and support the Kosovo authorities in areas related to the rule of law, in particular police, justice and customs.




To assist Iraqi authorities in the reform of the civil security sector.

The CSDP also includes 6 military operations and missions. 3 are under an executive mandate (“operations”) and 3 are focused on training and advisory objectives (“missions”). These operations and missions are financed directly by the Member States. Some costs are borne on a shared basis under what is called the “Athena mechanism,” where the contribution made by each State depends on their GDP.

Name of mission


Executive mandate

First mandate






Training and advice to the Malian Armed Forces.

EUTM Somalia




Training and advice to the Somalian Armed Forces.


Central African Republic



Training and advice to Central African armed forces.


Mediterranean - Libya



To combat the smuggling of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea;

training of Libyan Coast Guard forces.


Indian Ocean - Horn of Africa



To fight against piracy in the Indian Ocean; To protect World Food Programme vessels.

EUFOR Althéa

Bosnia and Herzegovina



To assist the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina (training) and contribute to the maintenance of a safe environment; to ensure compliance with the military component of the Dayton Agreements.


Pursuant to Articles 42 and 46 TEU, Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) was adopted on 11 December 2017 by the Council of the European Union (EU). It gives EU Member States the opportunity to cooperate more closely in the area of ??security and defence, and takes the form of joint projects essentially of a capacity-building nature. To date, 25 States have joined PESCO.81(*)

Two waves of projects were adopted at the councils held 6 March 2018 and 11 November 2018, bringing the total number to 34. France is involved in 21 of these projects, including 8 as a “lead.” The table below details the 34 projects and their participants, with the lead State in bold. Note that States may also decide to remain as “observers” only on certain projects.


Date adopted

Participating countries



European Union Training Mission Competence Centre (EU TMCC).

6 March 2018

Germany, Czech Republic, Spain, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Austria, Romania, Sweden.

To strengthen the skills and interoperability of EU Training Mission (EUTM) staff.

European Training Certification Centre for European Armies.

6 March 2018

Italy, Greece.

To promote the harmonisation of the procedures of the various European armies and allow training in a simulated environment, in order to reinforce the conduct of CSDP missions.

Helicopter Hot and High Training (H3 Training) [high temperature and high altitude].

19 November 2018

Greece, Italy, Romania.

To strengthen the skills of European pilots, military or civilian, to face new threats in a “hot and high” environment.

Joint EU Intelligence School.

19 November 2018

Greece, Cyprus.

To strengthen the skills of European intelligence personnel

EU Test and Evaluation Centres.

19 November 2018

France, Sweden, Spain, Slovakia.

To develop the Vidsel Test and Evaluation Centre (Sweden); to develop a European network of testing and evaluation centres, and ensure the prioritisation of European projects in their use.


Deployable Military Disaster Relief Capability Package.

6 March 2018

Italy, Greece, Spain, Croatia, Austria.

To develop a European capacity for the management of disasters, disaster relief and pandemics that can be deployed within missions and operations; to establish a dedicated European training centre.

Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicles / Amphibious Assault Vehicles / Light Armoured Vehicles.

6 March 2018

Italy, Greece, Slovakia.

To develop common prototypes of armoured infantry combat vehicles, amphibious assault vehicles, and light armoured vehicles.

Indirect Fire Support (EuroArtillery).

6 March 2018

Slovakia, Italy, Hungary.

To develop a mobile platform for precision artillery fire.

Integrated Unmanned Ground System (UGS).

19 November 2018

Estonia, Belgium, Czech Republic, Spain, France, Latvia, Hungary, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Finland.

To develop a multifunction integrated terrestrial autonomous system (UAV): transport, satellite imagery, sensors....

EU Beyond the Line Of Sight (BLOS) Land Battlefield Missile Systems.

19 November 2018

France, Belgium, Cyprus.

Develop new-generation land-based tactical missile systems beyond the line of sight (BLOS).


Maritime (semi-) Autonomous Systems for Mine Countermeasures (MAS MCM).

6 March 2018

Belgium, Greece, Latvia, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania.

To develop autonomous underwater systems (drones) to detect and destroy mines.

Harbour and Maritime Surveillance and Protection (HARMSPRO).

6 March 2018

Italy, Greece, Poland, Portugal.

To develop a system that brings together existing technologies for critical infrastructure protection in port and maritime areas.

Upgrade of Maritime Surveillance.

6 March 2018

Greece, Bulgaria, Ireland, Spain, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus.

To enhance maritime surveillance and the responsiveness of Member States by improving information sharing, through the use of existing infrastructure and the development of new capabilities.

Deployable Modular Underwater Intervention Capability Package (DIVEPACK).

19 November 2018

Bulgaria, Greece, France.

To develop an interoperable “DIVEPACK” device capable of covering a wide spectrum of defensive submarine operations, including autonomous underwater systems (drones), available for CSDP military operations.


European Medium Altitude Long Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, or European MALE RPAS (Eurodrone).

19 November 2018

Germany, Czech Republic, Spain, France, Italy

To develop a medium altitude long distance European aerial drone, operational by 2025.

European Attack Helicopters TIGER Mark III.

19 November 2018

France, Germany, Spain.

To significantly improve the Tiger Attack Helicopter by improving its detection, attack and communication capabilities.

Counter Unmanned Aerial System (C-UAS).

19 November 2018

Italy, Czech Republic

To develop a system to fight against small aerial drones.

CYBER, “C4ISR”82(*)

European Secure Software-defined Radio (ESSOR).

6 March 2018

France, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Finland

To develop common technologies for military radio communications in order to ensure the interoperability of European forces and enhance the security of military communications.

Cyber Threats and Incident Response Information Sharing Platform.

6 March 2018

Greece, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Hungary, Austria, Portugal.

To create platforms to ensure a higher level of cyber resilience for Member States, particularly by enhanced information sharing.

Cyber Rapid Response Teams and Mutual Assistance in Cyber Security.

7 May 2019

Lithuania, Estonia, Croatia, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Finland.

To set up rapid response teams allowing States to help each other confront cyber threats and respond collectively.

Strategic Command and Control (C2) System for CSDP Missions and Operations.

6 March 2018

Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal

To improve the command and control systems of EU missions and operations at the strategic level.

European High Atmosphere Airship Platform (EHAAP) - Persistent Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) Capability.

19 November 2019

Italy, France.

To develop an innovative and persistent ISR (stratospheric airships) platform with ample freedom of movement.

One Deployable Special Operations Forces (SOF) Tactical Command and Control (C2) Command Post (CP) for Small Joint Operations (SJO) - (SOCC) for SJO.

19 November 2018

Greece, Cyprus.

To establish and operate a deployable command post for tactical command and control (C2) of special operations forces (SOF) in “small” joint operations with the objective of operational capability by 2024.

Electronic Warfare Capability and Interoperability - Programme for Future Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (JISR) Cooperation

19 November 2018

Czech Republic, Germany.

To produce a comprehensive study of European electronic warfare capabilities in advance of the adoption of a common concept of operations (CONOPS) for electronic warfare, with a view to creating a common electronic warfare unit.


EUFOR Crisis Response Operation Core (EUFOR CROC).

6 March 2018

Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus.

To contribute to the creation of a coherent set of full spectrum forces, with the aim of progressively reducing the gap between the capabilities of the EU Battlegroups and the level of ambition stipulated in the Union's Global Strategy.

European Medical Command.

6 March 2018

Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Spain, France, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden.

To develop a permanent European medical capability in order to improve the coordination, management and supply of military medical resources in support of operations and missions.

Network of Logistic Hubs in Europe and Support to Operations.

6 March 2018

Germany, Belgium, Bulgaria, Greece, Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia.

To improve the logistics supply for operations and missions by combining existing European infrastructures and processes, in particular by creating logistics hubs and optimising storage and transport space.

Military mobility.

6 March 2018

Netherlands, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland, Sweden.

To support the commitment of Member States to simplifying and harmonising military transport procedures across the internal borders of the EU.

Energy Operational Function (EOF).

6 March 2018

France, Belgium, Spain, Italy.

To develop new energy supply systems for camps deployed in joint operations, and to ensure that energy issues are taken into account in all operational planning, combat systems design and operations support activities.

Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Surveillance as a Service (CBRN SaaS).

19 November 2018

Austria, France, Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia.

To establish a permanent network of sensors, particularly terrestrial and airborne drones, to provide a recognised CBRN picture and thus improve the visualisation of operational information used in EU missions and operations.


19 November 2018

France, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Spain, Netherlands.

To improve the sharing of databases operated by Member States within EU territory or beyond its borders.

Geo-meteorological and Oceanographic (GeoMETOC) Support Coordination Element (GMSCE).

19 November 2018

Germany, Greece, France, Romania.

To strengthen geo-spatial, meteorological and oceanographic support for missions and operations, including the establishment of a European data acquisition infrastructure and the development of common training and management policies.


EU Radio Navigation Solution (EURAS).

10 November 2018

France, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Italy.

To strengthen the EU's military positioning, navigation and timing capabilities, based on the Galileo system.

European Military Space Surveillance Awareness Network (EU-SSA-N).

19 November 2018

Italy, France;

To develop an autonomous and sovereign European space warfare military capability, interoperable with the EU-SST (Space Surveillance and Tracking) initiative, and aimed at protecting the space resources and services of the Member States.


(pursuant to Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/2315 of 11 December 2017)

"a) cooperate, as from the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, with a view to achieving approved objectives concerning the level of investment expenditure on defence equipment, and regularly review these objectives, in the light of the security environment and of the Union's international responsibilities;"

Based on the collective benchmarks identified in 2007, participating Member States subscribe to the following commitments:

1) Regularly increasing defence budgets in real terms, in order to reach agreed objectives.

2) Successive medium-term increase in defence investment expenditure to 20 % of total defence spending (collective benchmark) in order to fill strategic capability gaps by participating in defence capabilities projects in accordance with CDP and Coordinated Annual Review (CARD).

3) Increasing joint and “collaborative” strategic defence capabilities projects. Such joint and collaborative projects should be supported through the European Defence Fund if required and as appropriate.

4) Increasing the share of expenditure allocated to defence research and technology with a view to nearing the 2% of total defence spending (collective benchmark).

5) Establishment of a regular review of these commitments (with the aim of endorsement by the Council)

"b) bring their defence apparatus into line with each other as far as possible, particularly by harmonising the identification of their military needs, by pooling and, where appropriate, specialising their defence means and capabilities, and by encouraging cooperation in the fields of training and logistics;"

6) Playing a substantial role in capability development within the EU, including within the framework of CARD, in order to ensure the availability of the necessary capabilities for achieving the level of ambition in Europe.

7) Commitment to support the CARD to the maximum extent possible acknowledging the voluntary nature of the review and individual constraints of participating Member States.

8) Commitment to the intensive involvement of a future European Defence Fund in multinational procurement with identified EU added value.

9) Commitment to drawing up harmonised requirements for all capability development projects agreed by participating Member States.

10) Commitment to considering the joint use of existing capabilities in order to optimize the available resources and improve their overall effectiveness.

11) Commitment to ensure increasing efforts in the cooperation on cyber defence, such as information sharing, training and operational support.

"c) take concrete measures to enhance the availability, interoperability, flexibility and deployability of their forces, in particular by identifying common objectives regarding the commitment of forces, including possibly reviewing their national decision-making procedures."

12) With regard to availability and deployability of the forces, the participating Member States are committed to:

Making available formations, that are strategically deployable, for the realization of the EU LoA, in addition to a potential deployment of an EUBG. This commitment does neither cover a readiness force, a standing force nor a stand by force.

Developing a solid instrument (e.g. a data base) which will only be accessible to participating Member States and contributing nations to record available and rapidly deployable capabilities in order to facilitate and accelerate the Force Generation Process.

Aiming for fast-tracked political commitment at national level, including possibly reviewing their national decision-making procedures.

Providing substantial support within means and capabilities to CSDP operations (e.g. EUFOR) and missions (e.g. EU Training Missions) - with personnel, materiel, training, exercise support, infrastructure or otherwise - which have been unanimously decided by the Council, without prejudice to any decision on contributions to CSDP operations and without prejudice to any constitutional constraints,

Substantially contributing to EU BG by confirmation of contributions in principle at least four years in advance, with a stand-by period in line with the EU BG concept, obligation to carry out EU BG exercises for the EU BG force package (framework nation) and/or to participate in these exercises (all EU Member States participating in EU BG).

Simplifying and standardizing cross border military transport in Europe for enabling rapid deployment of military materiel and personnel.

13) With regard to interoperability of forces, the participating Member States are committed to:

Developing the interoperability of their forces by:

Commitment to agree on common evaluation and validation criteria for the EU BG force package aligned with NATO standards while maintaining national certification,

Commitment to agree on common technical and operational standards of forces acknowledging that they need to ensure interoperability with NATO.

Optimizing multinational structures: participating Member States could commit to joining and playing an active role in the main existing and possible future structures partaking in European external action in the military field (EUROCORPS, EUROMARFOR, EUROGENDFOR, MCCE/ATARES/SEOS.

14) Participating Member States will strive for an ambitious approach to common funding of military CSDP operations and missions, beyond what will be defined as common cost according to the Athena council decision.

"d) work together to ensure that they take the necessary measures to make good, including through multinational approaches, and without prejudice to undertakings in this regard within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the shortfalls perceived in the framework of the `Capability Development Mechanism."

15) Help to overcome capability shortcomings identified under the Capability Development Plan (CDP) and CARD. These capability projects shall increase Europe's strategic autonomy and strengthen the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB)

16) Consider as a priority a European collaborative approach in order to fill capability shortcomings identified at national level and, as a general rule, only use an exclusively national approach if such an examination has been already carried out.

17) Take part in at least one project under the PESCO which develops or provides capabilities identified as strategically relevant by Member States.

"e) take part, where appropriate, in the development of major joint or European equipment programmes in the framework of the European Defence Agency.”

18) Commitment to the use of EDA as the European forum for joint capability development and consider the OCCAR as the preferred collaborative program managing organization.

19) Ensure that all projects with regard to capabilities led by participating Member States make the European defence industry more competitive via an appropriate industrial policy which avoids unnecessary overlap.

20) 21) Ensure that the cooperation programmes - which must only benefit entities which demonstrably provide added value on EU territory - and the acquisition strategies adopted by the participating Member States will have a positive impact on the EDTIB.”



Common Foreign and Security Policy


Combined Joint Expeditionary Force


Common Security and Defence Policy


European Intervention Initiative


European Air Transport Command


European Defence Agency


European Defence Community


European Defence Fund


European Defence Industrial Development Programme


European Defence Technological and Industrial Base


Enhanced Forward Presence


European Union Battlegroup


European Union Military Staff


Future Combat Air System


Franco-German Brigade


High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy / Vice-President of the Commission


International Traffic in Arms Regulations


Main Ground Combat System


Military Planning and Conduct Capability


North Atlantic Treaty Organisation


NATO Response force


Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation


Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe


Preparatory Action on Defence Research


Permanent Structured Cooperation


Research and Development


Research and Technology


Supreme Allied Commander Europe


Supreme Allied Commander Transformation


Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe


Treaty on European Union


Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union


United Nations Security Council


Western European Union

* 1 Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, United Kingdom.

* 2 Given their nuclear capacities, France and the United Kingdom are the only countries able to implement a deterrence strategy of their own to protect their vital interests.

* 3 Phaedra, II, 5.

* 4 An information report by Daniel Reiner, Jacques Gautier, André Vallini and Xavier Pintat, co-rapporteurs, as part of a working group also including the participation of Jean-Michel Baylet, Luc Carvounas, Robert del Picchia, Michelle Demessine, Yves Pozzo di Borgo and Richard Tuheiava, Senators.

* 5 Draft Treaty signed by the Governments of Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the Federal Republic of Germany.

* 6 Charter of Paris for a New Europe (1990).

* 7 Franco-British Declaration on European Defence: Saint-Malo, 4 December 1998.

* 8 “A Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy for the European Union,” European External Action Service (2016).

* 9 Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, United Kingdom.

* 10 Strategic Concept (2010).

* 11 Franco-British Declaration on European Defence: Saint-Malo, 4 December 1998.

* 12 Joint declaration by the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission and the Secretary General of NATO, 8 July 2016.

* 13 General Denis Mercier, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (hearing before the National Defence and Armed Forces Committee of the National Assembly, 5 March 2019).

* 14 The total military expenditure of all NATO countries in 2018 amounted to $919 billion (source: NATO, 14 March 2019).

* 15 Source: “On The Up: Western Defence Spending in 2018,” Lucie Béraud-Sudreau, International Institute for Strategic studies (IISS, 2019).

* 16 This programme was previously known as the “European Reassurance Initiative” (ERI).

* 17 Since the Nassau Accords between the United States and the United Kingdom (1962), British nuclear capability has been closely linked to that of the Americans and to the NATO framework, as the National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015 makes clear.

* 18 “Forces aériennes européennes et mission nucléaire de l'OTAN”, Emmanuelle Maitre, research fellow at the Strategic Research Foundation (FRS), Défense & Industries no. 13 (June 2019).

* 19 US European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA).

* 20 ”Defending Europe: Scenario-Based Capability Requirements for NATO's European Members,” The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS, April 2019).

* 21 The study does not comment on the validity or plausibility of the scenarios considered.

* 22 Interview with Wolfgang Ischinger, president of the Munich Security Conference, Ouest-France, 9 February 2019.

* 23 Defence and National Security Strategic Review (2017).

* 24 Report by Hubert Védrine to the President of the French Republic on the consequences of France's return to NATO's integrated military command, the future of transatlantic relations, and the prospects for a Europe of Defence (14 November 2012)

* 25 Speech of the President of the Republic on nuclear deterrence, given at Istres on 19 February 2015.

* 26 Chequers Summit (30 October 1995).

* 27 See for example: “NATO Nuclear Sharing and the Future of Nuclear Deterrence in Europe,” The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (2018).

* 28 Ouest-France, 9 February 2019.

* 29 See Senate report no. 562 (2016-2017) by Jean-Pierre RAFFARIN and Daniel REINER: “2% du PIB pour la défense,” p. 13 et seq.

* 30 Only 7 countries now meet or exceed the 2% mark: Greece, Estonia, the United Kingdom, Romania, Poland, Latvia and Lithuania (the latter is at exactly 1.98%).

* 31 The following data are taken from the 2018 report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Initiative (SIPRI), pg. 157 et seq.

* 32 SIPRI 2018, pg. 166.

* 33 Such as the S400 surface-to-air missile systems in particular, and to a lesser extent Russian work in the hypersonic field.

* 34 “Permanent Structured Cooperation. National Perspectives and State of Play,” study by Frédéric Mauro and Federico Santopinto, produced for the European Parliament Subcommittee on “Security and Defence,” July 2017.

* 35 “Moving PESCO forward: what are the next steps?”, Jean-Pierre Maulny, Livia Di Bernardini, IRIS, ARES, May 2019.

* 36 Combat Search and Rescue.

* 37 Expression used by Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, in Helsinki on 30 August 2018.

* 38 EUTM Mali, EUTM Somalia, EUTM CAR, EUNAVFOR MED Sophia, EUNAVFOR Atalante, EUFOR Althea (Bosnia-Herzegovina).

* 39 Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe.

* 40 Summit of the leaders of France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg held in Brussels in April 2003. During this summit, States opposed to the Iraq war had expressed the desire to create a “hub” for the joint planning and conduct of operations. The UK opposed this until the 2016 referendum approving the Brexit.

* 41 Hearing conducted 26 June 2019.

* 42 Proposal COM(2018) 476 for a regulation establishing the European Defence Fund.

* 43 Regulation Proposal COM(2018) 476, op. cit., art. 3

* 44 PEDID in French.

* 45 Regulation Proposal COM(2018) 476, op. cit., paras. 18-20 and art. 14.

* 46 Idem, art. 16.

* 47 Pursuant to agreements reached at the Council on 19 February 2019, and at the European Parliament on 18 April 2019.

* 48 Regulation Proposal COM(2018) 476, op. cit., art. 10

* 49 Ibidem.

* 50 The US International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) require manufacturers of any defence equipment that includes one or more US components to obtain US authorisation to sell such equipment. As one might easily expect, this authorisation is difficult to obtain when the equipment in question is competing for an export defence contract with equivalent American equipment. Thus, in 2018, the sale to Egypt of an additional order of Rafale jets was blocked because of an American component present not on the aircraft but on the SCALP missiles from MBDA with which they are equipped. A full description of the American system is given in Daniel Fiott's article, “The Poison Pill: EU defence on US terms?” in EUISS, June 2019.

* 51 See in particular the Daniel Fiott article cited above.

* 52 Ibidem.

* 53 See Frédéric Mauro: Le Fonds européen de défense, Confrontations Europe, no. 122 (July-September 2018), pgs. 26-27.

* 54 11 February 2019.

* 55 House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts, “Defence Equipment Plan 2018-28”, 23 January 2019.

* 56 Source: NATO

* 57 Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, president of CDU, Olaf Scholz, vice-chancellor and member of SPD, and Wolfgang Schäuble, president of the Bundestag, have made remarks to such effect.

* 58 “A deep and special partnership that will make available UK assets, capabilities and influence to the EU and European partners”, cited by: House of Commons Defence Committee, “The Government's proposals for a future security partnership with the European Union,” 5 June 2018.

* 59 Framework for the UK-EU Security Partnership, Department for exiting the EU (May 2018).

* 60Enhanced Forward Presence” is a defensive and proportionate presence intended as a contribution to strengthening NATO's defence and deterrence posture in the east (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland). Since April 2017, France has had nearly 300 soldiers deployed for this purpose (“Lynx” detachment).

* 61 “Partenariat franco-britannique de défense et de sécurité : améliorer notre coopération”, Institut Montaigne, King's College London, November 2018.

* 62 Combined Joint Expeditionary Force: intended for joint intervention in high intensity operations and early entry into the field (up to 10,000 troops).

* 63 After the United States, China and Japan.

* 64 NATO Press Release (2019) 069 of 25 June 2019.

* 65 Italian-French cooperation has also been established in the terrestrial domain; it is less developed but good quality, especially in regard to mountain troops.

* 66 It is quite unfortunate from this perspective that the German firm TKMS is for the time being completely opposed to a merger with Naval Group. The two companies thus remain in fierce and costly competition.

* 67 Except, of course, in the hypothesis that Belgium might maintain a separate fleet for carrying atomic weapons.

* 68 One billion for the Belgian navy and one billion for the Netherlands navy.

* 69 Senate Report no. 396 (2018-2019) by Olivier Cigolotti on the draft law authorising an approval of the agreement between the Government of the French Republic and the Government of the Kingdom of Belgium on cooperation in the land mobility domain.

* 70 Strategic vision for Belgian Defence, 26 June 2016.

* 71 Speech delivered at Zurich on 13 February 2019

* 72 Belgisch-Nederlandse Samenwerkingsakkoorden.

* 73 The Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) created upon a British initiative, brings together the United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands and the three Baltic States (thus including 5 NATO nations and 2 partner nations). After the signature of a letter of intent at the NATO Wales Summit of September 2014, it was declared fully operational in July 2018.

* 74 Le « minilatéralisme » : une nouvelle forme de coopération de défense, Alice Pannier, Politique étrangère 1:2015.

* 75 Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia.

* 76 Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Estonia, France, Finland, the Netherlands, Portugal and the United Kingdom.

* 77 Air Transport & Air to Air Refuelling and other Exchange of Services

* 78 “Qu'est-ce qu'un chef ?”, Pierre de Villiers, Fayard, 2018.

* 79 “Défense de l'Union européenne : le processus de mise en oeuvre du Livre blanc”, a study by Frédéric Mauro, prepared upon request by the European Parliament Subcommittee on “Security and Defence,” December 2018.

* 80 Expression used by Florence Parly, Minister for the Armed Forces, in March 2019.

* 81 Only Malta, Denmark (because of its opt out) and the United Kingdom in its process of withdrawal from the Union are not members.

* 82 Digital Command and Control, Communications, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance systems.