President Macron: “The vital interests of France now have a European dimension.”
Almost a week after the United Kingdom left the European Union, French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday unveiled a pan-European nuclear doctrine as part of country’s new military strategy. “The vital interests of France now have a European dimension,” he declared during the graduation ceremony at the French War College, l’Ecole de Guerre. Following Brexit, France is now the only nuclear power within the EU.
“Europeans must collectively realize that, for lack of a legal framework, they could find themselves rapidly exposed to the resumption of a conventional or even nuclear arms race on their soil,” the French President warned. “France will mobilize the most concerned European partners in order to lay the foundations for a common international strategy that we can propose in all the forums where Europe is active.”
The French announcement comes days after a senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel CDU party, Johann Wadephul, called for Franco-German nuclear defense cooperation. Germany should “consider cooperation with France regarding nuclear weapons,” Johann Wadephul, who serves as the vice chairman of the CDU parliamentary group, told Der Tagesspiegel newspaper on Monday. Berlin “should be prepared to participate in the nuclear deterrent force with its own capabilities and means,” he added.
Despite these overtures, President Macron apparently doesn’t trust Berlin (or Brussels for that matter) with his nukes. Paris will retain full sovereignty over its nuclear arsenal, he asserted on Friday.
The TV network France24 reported the French president’s remarks:
In a much anticipated speech to military officers graduating in Paris, Macron called on EU member states to play a more direct role in halting a new nuclear arms race, saying they “cannot remain spectators” against a threat to the continent’s collective security.
“In the absence of a legal framework, they could rapidly face a new race for conventional weapons, even nuclear weapons, on their own soil,” said Macron.
Setting out his country’s nuclear strategy in a bid to show leadership a week after nuclear-armed Britain officially exited the EU, Macron highlighted how France sees its nuclear weapons as a deterrent against attacks from belligerent foes. (…)
He warned of “the possibility of a pure and unrestrained military and nuclear competition, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the end of the 1960s”.
“The vital interests of France now have a European dimension,” said Macron, circling back to his central message of a need for a more coordinated European defence policy.
European nations should also insist on being signatories of any new deal to limit the development of new intermediate-range weapons, he noted. “Let us be clear: if negotiations and a more comprehensive treaty are possible… Europeans must be stakeholders and signatories, because it’s our territory” that is most at risk.
The French nuclear offer to the EU comes at a prince, President Macron said. He wants the EU member countries to finance the maintenance and development of the French nuclear deterrence. “Why are they not ready to make defense a budget priority and make the necessary sacrifices, even as the risks are growing?” he asked.
Paris has allocated about €37 billion for its nuclear arsenal from 2019 to 2025, roughly 12 percent of the military budget for this period.
The French demand could explain why Germany, France, and other Western European countries are holding back on their agreed NATO contributions. Many EU members continue to fall short of their NATO spending pledge, amounting to 2 percent of their GDP.
President Macron’s proposed nuclear doctrine is in line with Brussels long-held dream of developing an EU army to further the bloc’s political aims. Brussels has long been dreaming of flexing its military muscle outside the framework of NATO and as a counterweight to America. “In the very long run, we will need a European army. Because we have to be credible when it comes to foreign policy,” the outgoing EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said in 2014. In August 2018, Germany laid out its vision for a EU ‘counterweight’ to the United States. In an article titled “Making Plans for a New World Order,” German Foreign Minister Mass called on the the EU to become “a cornerstone of the international order.”
The UK had historically been opposed to a centralized EU military commend. Following last week’s Brexit, there are signs that Brussels is now moving in that direction.
Talking to Italy’s Radio 24 in late January, EU Parliament President David Sassoli, suggested that the EU was moving towards “something that resembles a European army.” Assuring that the army under Brussels control will be a force for peace, he stressed: “We said ‘never again’ to war. So our army will never serve as a war instrument but rather as a support to the international community.”
[Cover image via YouTube]
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