Allez au contenu, Allez à la navigation

Relancer l'Europe : Retrouver l'esprit de Rome - version anglaise

22 février 2017 : Relancer l'Europe : Retrouver l'esprit de Rome - version anglaise ( rapport d'information )

N° 434



Enregistré à la Présidence du Sénat le 22 février 2017



In the name of the Monitoring group for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom and the rebuilding of the European Union (1)

Reviving Europe: Rediscovering the spirit of Rome

By MM. Jean-Pierre RAFFARIN and Jean BIZET,


Version française :

(1) This monitoring group is composed of: MM. Jean Bizet and Jean-Pierre Raffarin, joint chairs; MM. Pascal Allizard, Jean-Marie Bockel, Éric Bocquet, Christian Cambon, Mme Joëlle Garriaud-Maylam, M. André Gattolin, Mme Éliane Giraud, M. Jean-Noël Guérini, Mmes Gisèle Jourda, Fabienne Keller, MM. Claude Kern, Didier Marie, Jean-Pierre Masseret, Mme Colette Mélot, MM. Xavier Pintat, Yves Pozzo di Borgo, Simon Sutour und Richard Yung, members.


Brexit has exposed the threat of dismantling the European Union. While Europeans are gearing up to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the treaty of Rome on 25 March 1957, the centrifugal forces have never been so intense. This situation has led to a wakeup call for Europeans to restore unity and collective purpose. The anniversary of the treaty of Rome should not therefore be an empty commemoration. It should on the contrary provide the foundation for a Europe refounded on a more solid basis and more in line with the expectations of the people.

Recapturing "the spirit of Rome"

In this perspective, upon the initiative of its President, Gérard Larcher, the Senate decided to establish a monitoring group for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom and the refounding of the European Union. Shared by the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Armed Forces and the European Affairs Committee, this monitoring group has been conducting, for the past eight months, a series of hearings in Paris, Berlin, Brussels, Strasbourg and London.

This report does not intend to provide a further assessment of the situation of the European Union. Such an assessment was provided in the previous work of the Senate, in particular in the report by our former colleague Pierre Bernard-Reymond1(*). Building on the lessons learned from its hearings and communications submitted by each of its members, the report further intends to outline the approaches that will enable Europe to regain the direction that it should never have lost, for the future prosperity and protection of the European people. It proposes a method to ensure that this European revival is achieved without delay.

? Europe is facing a serious internal crisis

European integration is a major project. In a continent that has been blood-stained by centuries of conflicts, European integration has promoted peace, cooperation and the defence of values based on respect, human dignity and fundamental rights. In a few decades, Europe has become an area of free movement, which is regarded as a major accomplishment for European citizens. By gradually removing barriers, it has created a major internal market that attracts the envy of major economies. It is the world's leading trading power.

It must however be noted that Europe is now facing with huge challenges. The British decision to withdraw from the European Union came as a shock. A shock in respect of the history that has brought together the European people and which has moved in a direction that should have forged an even stronger union between the people and not their separation or perhaps tomorrow their opposition. A shock in respect of the context of a globalisation that is increasingly built around the states of the continent and which makes the need for unity and cohesion all the more pressing.

Brexit occurred at a time when Europe had not completely overcome the consequences of the sovereign debt crisis. In the wake of the financial crisis that occurred in the United States as a result of the excesses of ultra-liberalism, this crisis highlighted the weaknesses of European integration. It was not equipped with the instruments that would allow it to respond to a crisis of such intensity. It led to the creation of the euro. However, as a result of negligence, it has not been able to enhance the monetary policy through effective economic governance without which it is not possible to effectively manage a currency. It has therefore been required, in a few months, to implement instruments, that it should have been equipped with long ago.

The migrant crisis has also deeply destabilised the Eurozone It has been another revelation of the deficiencies of the European project. Schengen had, since the outset, a dual significance:  the lifting of controls at the internal borders on the one hand, but, on the other hand, a strengthening of controls at the external borders and police and judicial cooperation to fight against serious crime. As it had neglected this second component of Schengen, the Union has been powerless to tackle the migrant crisis. The member States thus believed that they could be satisfied with sparse and uncoordinated national solutions, to the extent that instead cooperation and solidarity prevailed.

Europe must moreover respond to a terrorist threat, which continues to escalate under the pressure of international Jihadism. It has now discovered, following years of national denial and egoism that it does not concern a particular State in question but the European civilisation and the values that it represents. Admittedly, safety remains the individual responsibility of each member state. But how can we fail to see that confronted with a diffuse threat that transcends national borders, cooperation where the Union should offer added value is a requirement more than ever. The Senate outlined this by calling for the adoption of a genuine act for the internal security of the European Union.

More generally, Europe must position itself in a globalised world where threats accumulate and appear more and more multi-faceted. It recognises that its own security, which appears for many member states to fall under the American defence umbrella, may now be called into question. Although certain member states thought that they could do without a genuine defence effort, they now realise that in the face of new threats, they can no longer overlook their own responsibilities in this area.

§ A Europe that is lacking vision and leadership, threatened with dislocation and fragmentation

The challenges are huge. Addressing them requires vision and leadership , qualities that Europe is lacking. Faced with globalisation, the Heads of States and governments have not fulfilled their responsibility, which was to explain to their citizens the unavoidable consequences of globalisation on competitiveness and security. Even greater indebtedness was a loophole for not confronting the new realities. This now constitutes a major handicap, thwarting the continent's capacity to revitalise its growth strategy. This denial has continued through a regrettable tendency to shift the responsibility of all of the problems to "Brussels" while appropriating only the successes to themselves. Member states have consequently refused to take real ownership of the European project, despite the treaties they have negotiated and signed together. They have failed to provide impetus by clearly determining what they expect from the European Union. The successive enlargements, which were not preceded by a renewal of the institutional workings, unfortunately contributed to this loss of direction.

This sluggishness of political accountability also explains Europe's inability to clearly choose between two views of either the "European Area" that was intergovernmental in nature, centred on a major internal market and nothing else; or "A powerful Europe " fulfilling its political dimension and strong integration. At the same time, Europe is again far from constituting an integrated continent. Europe is subject to differences in economic performance between Northern Europe and Southern Europe but there is also a lack of uniformity between Western Europe and Eastern Europe on the economic front, but also on the political front.

Lacking vision and leadership, the European Union has been subject to a bureaucratic mind-set which only served to create a disconnect between the citizens of the European project. Essentially, the political project was replaced by regulatory inflation and meddlesome or irrelevant administrative decisions, so misunderstood by our fellow citizens that their impact is felt in their everyday lives. The "European Commission", which had for some time laid the ambitious foundations for European integration, had thus become a sort of "scapegoat" of all of the deficiencies of public governance. This perception has unfortunately cast a shadow over the significant work carried out moreover by the Brussels institution. The technocratic drift is coupled with a democratic deficit, which did not enable the representatives of the people to exercise effective control over the way European institutions work.

§ A Europe that has lost the citizen's confidence

Public confidence in European integration, from the outset, has been based on three principles, which has always proven itself: Peace, democracy and prosperity. Indeed these three principles have been gradually called into question: peace is without doubt preserved but the former Yugoslavia conflict, then the terrorist threat, has led to a resurgence of political violence; the democratic deficit of the Union is challenged and the impact of European integration on national democracies through the growing number of transfers of power is hard felt; lastly, on the economic front, Europe must face the most serious crisis it has encountered since the second world war. Unemployment has risen to record levels, particularly as regards young people; the risk of social regression is felt by public opinion.

It has therefore gradually moved from a climate of confidence to a climate of distrust full of threats for the sustainability of the European project. This development is reflected in the rise of populist movements and in the temptation to retreat into nationalism as well as the rise of separatism.

European citizens have recognised that European integration has provided them with sustainable peace. They also appreciate the capacity that Europe has had in ensuring its reunification following the collapse of the Soviet Bloc. However, faced with globalisation, EU citizens look to the EU level for protection. This is something that it has not been able to do to date. This disappointed expectation largely explains the distancing of the citizens in respect of the European project. The paradox of this situation must be recognised. Because faced with globalisation, European integration is not a problem but, self-evidently, the solution.

? For the refounding of the European Union: make Brexit a platform for a new beginning

Brexit has come as a shock. But it is also an opportunity to give the European project further momentum. This should be a green light for European revival. This condition will ensure that Europe continues to carry weight in the international arena, while preserving its democratic model and its founding value.

The diffraction of Europe, a geopolitical nonsense

The alternative is clear: collective revival or an exit from history. In 2050, no European State represents more than 1% of the world's population. Only Germany will still be part of the first ten of the world's leading economies. It is therefore via the European Union and that alone that the European States may continue to exist in the face of major economic forces. It is also by gathering its resources that Europe is able to preserve its model of society and defend its values.

Today, the major economic forces each have their own vision of Europe, generally they welcome its deconstruction. But Europe itself is struggling to assert its identity. It should on the contrary accept its history and destiny. It should claim its own vision. That of a civilisation project accompanied by a power representing a community of nations that have chosen to share together the exercise of a part of their sovereignty in order to have a stronger influence in a globalised world.

Faced with the emergence of the continent States that do not hesitate to use powerful arms to achieve their ends, Europe must take responsibility for itself as a power while ensuring its security. It must defend its identity. It should assert its values of respect for human dignity, fundamental rights and democracy. As the leading trading power, endowed with the strength that makes up the single market, it should command respect in international trade negotiations.

Refounded on a clearly assumed vision, driven by the United-Nations, the European project should be renewed. It must be retransformed on the basis of a number of priorities for which European added value is clearly identified by the people: security, employment, competitiveness. This refocused Europe should fully comply with the subsidiarity principle. Europe must be more visible and closer to the citizens. It should reform its work and include ample democratic oversight, in particular through an enhanced role of national parliaments. Under these conditions, we can overcome the scepticism that calls into question the unity of Europeans.

This goal is first of all directed towards the Franco-German engine which has unfortunately lost its driving force. The Franco-German engine and that alone will revive Europe. It is up to France and Germany to take the initiatives that have gained the support of our other partners. The French-German relationship must not be exclusive. But it is a decisive one. Our two countries will be holding major elections in 2017. Following these elections, they shall enter into a period of political stability favourable to firm initiatives that will restore the citizens' confidence in European Integration.

The purpose of this report is to outline future perspectives that may constitute the "roadmap" of this new beginning.



Europe must be conceived and act as a power in the world. This involves strengthening European defence, fully exploiting European added value in the fight against terrorism and for internal security, strengthening the European response to the migratory crisis and better protection of European interests in international trade negotiations. It is essential to stabilise the normative contours of the European Union by initiating a pause in its expansion.


The European Union must first and foremost strengthen its capacity to defend Europeans. Brexit is in this regard both a tremendous challenge, bearing in mind the size and quality of the British armed forces, which are unparalleled at this stage among our other European partners, and an opportunity, as the obstacles to a potential greater integration are now lifted.

There is no time for delay in the realisation of the famous peace dividends following the end of the cold war. The beginning of the 21st century is marked by terrorism, the rise of threats, the return of strength and the powerful states on the international scene, as well as uncertainty as regards the Atlantic Alliance following the election of Donald Trump. We must take advantage of this specific moment! In the area of defence, we should bid farewell to a naïve optimism, an interpretation of the world that is now outdated. Although it is not sufficient to relaunch Europe, the emergence - albeit long-awaited - of a European defence is essential.

1. Faced with the increasing threat, the need for a political will based on a shared strategic vision

While the continuum between internal and external security is now clearly established and that various countries of the European Union have been hit by terrorism, 500 million Europeans are waiting for Europe to assert itself in the area of defence in order to ensure its protection. To respond to these aspirations, we need to establish a strong Europe, in which a real strategic autonomy can be achieved.

In this context, it is considered necessary to provide a "strategic review" document of European defence in the medium term in order to prevent the divisions associated with the existence of several threat evaluation charts. It is essential to channel political efforts around a shared strategic vision, that is a joint threat analysis, expressing a strong political commitment. This alone shall ensure the implementation plan of the overall strategy for the European foreign and security policy proposed by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, approved by the European Council of 15 December 2016. Moreover, it would be desirable for this overall strategy to be fully in line with an overall strategy clearly stated in the field of foreign policy of the European Union. The coordination and representation of the Union's foreign policy has moreover been sorely lacking over the last few years, faced with the major crises and challenges to which Europe has been and still is subject to: border protection, management of the migratory crisis and relations with Turkey and countries of economic migration. It is imperative that the European Union adopts an autonomous, clear and effective foreign policy. Its initiatives, its various aids and interventions must be clearly identified, which is far from being the case today. They should fall within a coordinated framework, conveying the meaning that the European Union is committed, as defined in the intergovernmental framework.

Lastly, in the context of a scarcity of budgetary resources and the increasing number of threats, there is a need to specify the challenges and priorities of the relationship between the European Union and NATO so that it is clear that a European defence is complementary and in no way redundant or concurrent of NATO's posture.

2. Building on an intergovernmental dynamic

Defence has essentially remained an intergovernmental policy. In this sense, a Franco-German initiative of September 2016 set out in the letters of the French, German, Spanish and Italian defence ministers, is an encouraging sign in favour of a strong European defence, drawn up by inclusive reinforced cooperation.

In this perspective, the establishment of a permanent political dialogue aimed at strengthening and clarifying the French-German cooperation in the field of defence is essential. This fortified French-German engine has allowed for the development of a deliberate and concerted effort in terms of budget planning and defence capabilities on a government level and on the level of the major states of the European Union in the form of a "Coordinated Annual Review on Defence". This would enable, somewhat along the lines of a European semester model adapted to the field of defence and security, the volunteer states to agree on their defence budgets, their capacity expansion investment plans and therefore to pool their efforts in order to maximise the effectiveness of the resources allocated to defence. The aim of this mechanism is to help the volunteer countries to reach the objective of 2% of GDP and to bridge the identified capability shortfalls such as refuelling capabilities, cybersecurity, drones as well as satellite communications.

3. Taking full advantage of the possibilities of the treaty of Lisbon

The strengthening of European defence must also rely on legal flexibility implementing the treaty of Lisbon, on the development of operational coherence tools and lastly on the European funding to promote defence.

Among the proposals that will give fresh political impetus to European defence, we believe that a European Security and Defence Council should be set up to evaluate the threats to which the European Union is subject. This evaluation must lead to concrete policies; above all, it is in this very political framework of the meeting of the member states that an overlap of internal and external security will be undertaken. The CSDP is a major component but not the only one.

Similarly, the treaty of Lisbon created a permanent structured cooperation, open to States with extensive military capabilities. In the areas of capacity sharing or logistical support and coherence, this facility, relatively flexible and for which the scope of application is not delineated a priori, must be made a reality in the event of a deadlock. This can provide real European added value.

4. Developing operational coherence tools and European financing capacity to promote defence

It is in this perspective that the establishment of a permanent structure for the planning, command and control of military missions in the European Union must be considered. The creation of real command and control capacities of operations will be an issue of operational effectiveness but also, and above all, strategic autonomy.

The European Defence Agency must widely reassess its means of action, and first and foremost its financial resources. Its initial ambition is even more meaningful today: identifying the military capabilities for the European Union, developing corresponding programmes and relying on common defence research to put in place a European armaments industry.

The European Commission also initiated, for the first time, a funding system for defence research, critical to strategy autonomy in terms of armaments, and the creation of a defence technological and industrial base (DTIB). The European Defence Action Plan proposed by the Commission in November 2016 provides that the European defence fund may receive and manage contributions from the member states for the joint development of defence capabilities. The Commission does not wish for these contributions to be integrated into the constraints of the Stability Pact.

In total, the new European defence objective is based on three findings.

It should first of all fulfil the security need expressed by Europeans them-selves. Security and defence are without doubt among the few areas in which citizens of the European Union are becoming increasingly persuaded that we can only act effectively together and not in isolation. In a climate of general Euroscepticism, security and defence are central in European added value. However, the CSDP is still an EU action, outside of its borders, to prevent threats on its territory: it is not limited to the security capacity of the European Union alone, this is just one part of the issue.

Thereafter, the treaty of Lisbon, contrary to the preceding European treaties, provides various provisions that are favourable to an ambitious CSDP. It has reversed a situation in which a credible European defence had become dubious. Not all is lost and it is our responsibility to build on, on the basis of these texts, a new state of mind based on the existing one. However, as has been demonstrated on a number of occasions in the past, if a strong and lasting political will is not forthcoming, this will be an umpteenth missed opportunity.

Lastly, even if a space seems to be taking shape for a credible CSDP, defence is, and shall remain a Member States' sovereign responsibility. Defence budgets, strategies, capacities, varying levels of will or political capacity to commit themselves militarily in the crisis theatres: all of these parameters are a matter for national sovereignty and that alone. This involves governments as well as national parliaments. In the area of defence as in other areas, this should provide a mechanism of increased expression. Indeed, a delicate balance must be struck between sovereignty and collective coherence, between very diverse diplomatic, political and military traditions in order to attempt to build a shared strategy, based on identified common interests.

This is a difficult exercise. The adoption in June 2016 of a European strategy was a starting point. We now need to quickly construct something concrete.

Recommendations on European defence

1. Defining and expressing a genuine political will based on an autonomous strategic vision of the European Union, shared between the member States:

- building upon the strategy for the European foreign and security policy proposed by the High Commissioner and approved by the European Council;

- preparing an ambitious "implementation plan": a "strategic European review";

- specifying EU/NATO challenges and priorities.

2. Do not overlook the fact that defence is still essentially an intergovernmental policy:

- do not leave Great Britain outside of the European defence initiative. Establish an "extended Lancaster House", multilateral intergovernmental cooperation and framework in the area of defence;

- establish a "Coordinated Annual Review on Defence",  voluntary dialogue of budgetary planning and defence capabilities.

- clarifying and strengthening French-German cooperation in the area of defence by fostering ongoing dialogue;

- strengthening European tools for harmonising the arms export policies outside of the EU and for updating the European legislation aimed at the procurement of defence contracts and the intra-European movement of defence-related products (2009 directives).

3. Taking full advantage of the possibilities opened up by the treaty of Lisbon:

- establishing a European Security and Defence Policy;

- institutionalising a Council of Defence Ministers, responsible in particular for preparing the annual meeting of the European Security and Defence Policy for assessing the threats, proposing a political impetus required for fostering the emergence of a European Defence and Industrial market and base.

- developing permanent structured cooperation projects in all areas based on an effective tool;

- engaging in CSDP military operations of European Union Battlegroups (EU BG); increasing the involvement of the European corps;

- implementing the CSDP seed funding.

4. Strengthening the existing European operational coherence tools; developing the European defence funding capabilities

- creating a permanent operational planning, command and control structure of CSDP military operations;

- developing the European funding of security sector stability and training operations in countries emerging from crisis (the stability instrument);

- reforming the funding mechanism of CSDP military operations (Athena) by increasing the European proportion;

- initiating and increasing the European funding for defence research and the development of common capacities via a European defence fund;

- increasing the resources and responsibilities of the European defence agency as a European armament programme development tool and the definition of standards for equipment;

- encouraging the EIB to participate in defence funding, in particular in favour of SMEs.

* 1Pierre Bernard-Reymond: «The European Union: from dusk to a new dawn», n° 407 (2013-2014) from 26 February 2014.