Thursday

23rd Jan 2020

French EU presidency to push for defence integration

France will next year push for a Europe of defence, proposing Brussels-based EU planning staff, exchanges between professional soldiers and a harmonization of military education – ideas which are likely to raise concern in the UK.

In an interview with German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, French defence minister Hervé Morin said that Paris will put defence high on the agenda when it takes over the rotating presidency of the EU in the second half of 2008.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

Mr Morin described European defence as an "absolute priority" which is at least as important for European integration as the EU's common currency, the euro.

"With the common currency, we have created a strong symbol for Europe. But nothing can better express the European community of fate than common defence, a common sense of Europe's threats and security interests," he said.

"A kind of European conscience can grow over the question where, if need be, we want to defend our values with weapons," he stated. "This is why during the presidency of the European Council in the second half of 2008 we would like to press ahead with a Europe of defence."

Mr Morin said Paris is still "co-ordinating" with its EU partners what its presidency agenda would mean in practical terms, but said "independent crisis capacities" for Europe would be one key goal.

"An own planning staff in Brussels forms part of our ideas, as well as the development of a European security strategy for the coming years," he said.

"I could also imagine a sort of military Erasmus programme with an institutionalised exchange of professional soldiers within the EU. Of course this would require a harmonization of military education, at least at the start of careers."

UK and NATO

But France's proposal to create an independent EU military planning unit looks set to face deep scepticism on the other side of the Channel.

The Financial Times earlier this week reported that UK prime minister Gordon Brown's government is very reluctant to adopt any big European initiatives, at least until London has ratified the EU's new reform treaty.

UK officials dislike the idea of an EU defence headquarters and would like European defence forces to focus on peacekeeping and humanitarian tasks, rather than on combat operations which they traditionally see as part of the remit of NATO.

France's president Nicolas Sarkozy however is strongly pushing for a military role for the EU which is independent from that of the Atlantic alliance.

Mr Sarkozy has said he would like France to re-join the military command structures of the Northern Atlantic alliance which it left 43 years ago - but on the condition that EU defence is also strengthened.

Speaking before the US Congress last week, Mr Sarkozy said "NATO cannot be everywhere...The EU must be able to act."

"I say it here before this Congress," he stated. "The more successful we are in the establishment of a European defence, the more France will be resolved to resume its full role in NATO."

EU warned on 'vigilance' after Davos spy fail

European counter-intelligence services need to "seriously raise the level of vigilance" on Russian spies, UK activist Bill Browder has said after news of a botched operation at Davos.

Column

What's Libya's impact on EU foreign policy?

The Libya case might finally give the EU some strategic clarity. This sounds like a small thing, but EU foreign policy is in such bad shape that it would be a big leap forward.

Will US privacy-lite hollow out GDPR?

Some say GDPR is the most developed data protection law in the world, but the US has opted for a very different approach - a "voluntary tool" based on privacy risk management.

Exclusive

Senior Polish member at EU body faces Belgian abuse probe

A Polish official seeking to become president of the European Economic and Social Committee, a minor EU institution, could face Belgian charges for psychological harassment after the EU's anti-fraud office Olaf alerted authorities.

Opinion

Why isn't Germany helping gay rights in Hungary, Poland?

The European Centre-Right LGBT+ Alliance demands Germany give up its resistance to the Anti-Discrimination Directive and suggest the commission and centre-right parties exert further pressure on Polish and Hungarian authorities to improve conditions for the LGBT+ community and people.

News in Brief

  1. UK watchdog unveils online child-privacy standards
  2. Alleged 'bully' nominated for EESC presidency
  3. Greens/EFA fail to agree on accepting Catalan MEPs
  4. MEPs approve over 55 gas projects for EU funding
  5. Italy deputy PM Di Maio quits as Five Star party leader
  6. EU investment bank to keep pressure on Turkey over gas
  7. 'Rare' migrant boat from Belgium to UK sinks
  8. First annual rule of law report expected this year, Reynders said

Column

What's Libya's impact on EU foreign policy?

The Libya case might finally give the EU some strategic clarity. This sounds like a small thing, but EU foreign policy is in such bad shape that it would be a big leap forward.

Opinion

Brexit - Europe's 'Versailles moment'?

The spectre of another peace agreement looms: that of the doomed Versailles treaty, which, by sowing resentment and perpetuating misunderstanding of each other's true ambitions and principles, created more tensions than it dissolved.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. EU warned on 'vigilance' after Davos spy fail
  2. What's Libya's impact on EU foreign policy?
  3. EU commission 'lacks ambition' on future conference
  4. Will US privacy-lite hollow out GDPR?
  5. Senior Polish member at EU body faces Belgian abuse probe
  6. Why isn't Germany helping gay rights in Hungary, Poland?
  7. US retiree, scammed by former EU official, awaits justice
  8. Vienna-Brussels night train returns amid EU green talk

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us