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What will the EU defense look like after Brexit?

Donald Trump’s gestures and threats, the electric shock caused by Emmanuel Macron’s remarks about the “brain death” of NATO in 2019, as well as the prospect of Brexit, have undoubtedly revived the ambition for a true Europe of defense. The Le Monde Study

She writes mainly in the United Kingdom the worldThe European Union’s 27 countries will have to demonstrate that with France as the only major player, the European Union’s Common Security and Defense Policy can be relaunched, or even renewed.

Memories, memories: At the Saint-Malo summit in 1998, Jacques Chirac and Tony Blair signed a common text that was to be adopted a year later by the fifteen members of the European Union. On the military level, it evokes an “independent ability to operate, based on reliable forces, with the means to use them and.” [la volontà di] To do so. ”Twenty-three years later, when the United Kingdom put an end to the so-called irreversible nature of membership in the European Union, questions of the independence and sovereignty of European defense continue to arise. A new question mark is: Will the British departure weaken, demonize or liberalize Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP)?

However, it is not about finding an answer in the far-reaching agreement between Brussels and London. At the request of the British negotiators, the topic was excluded from discussions that were already very difficult, very long and very tense. So the other “future relationship” should be considered “later,” as Brussels admits.

Minimum contribution to the United Kingdom

Besides the apparent regret of some diplomats and the politely silent satisfaction of others, Brexit is a reminder first and foremost of some clear realities in the field of defense. First, the fact that the British never supported the idea of ​​a strong CSDP. Except perhaps, attorney Frederic Mauro, a specialist in defense issues and co-author, confirms with Olivier Gehen, of Défendre l’Europe (Nuvis, 2019), when it comes to appeasing Americans as they wanted Europeans to “put order in private at home”.

For the rest, London subtly thwarted, to a large extent to the dismay of Paris, all armament development projects that could have been implemented. The British contribution to the operations and missions of the European Union was minimal and the European Defense Agency had lived on a tight budget for a long time due to deliberate obstruction.

Another clear fact is that, with the exception of the short period at Saint-Malo, the UK never imagined that its capabilities – great because they are those in the European Second Army – could someday be provided (example) by the partner. Because there was no political will to do so and because no decision could have been taken without the consent of the United States. In a study by the Institute for International and Strategic Relations (IRIS) in 2019, Mauro noted that “the formation of the British Army is complementary with the US Army.”

The UK’s security, in fact, in the areas of technology, military capabilities, intelligence or nuclear energy, clearly depends on predecessors and close cooperation with Washington. The same is true now on a new front, which is electronic warfare.

Therefore, for Europeans, there is no room for false hopes or illusions. A more realistic option would be to “take knowledge of common interests”, as Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian recommended at the Munich Security Conference in February 2020. It is the only, in fact, for Europe that must accept that it has lost about 20% of its global capabilities and one of its strengths. The two nuclear powers, but from now on it will have to prove that the British “bloc” was not just an excuse. And lifting this blockade will encourage movement towards more work and cooperation in the field of defense.

Donald Trump’s gestures and threats, and the electric shock caused by Emmanuel Macron’s remarks about the “brain death” of NATO in 2019, as well as the prospect of Brexit, have undoubtedly revived the ambition for a true Europe of defense. On paper at least, given the persistence of differences within the bloc of society, particularly when it comes to looking at the relationship between the European Union and NATO.

Given its lack of a British screen that often concealed its divisions and varying degrees of ambition, the EU’s 27 will have to prove this with France as the only major player – as it is the only one able to act across the military spectrum and with a seat on the United Nations Security Council – relaunch. European CSDP. Or even reinvent yourself.

More cooperation within NATO

The Europeans, led by the French and the Germans, will also have to demonstrate their willingness to cooperate more within NATO. The Democrats ’return to power in Washington is unlikely to do much to alter America’s desire to better share the financial” burden “and force Europeans to take more account of their defense imperatives. For their part, the British, who are re-investing on a large scale in NATO structures, will no doubt fail to impose their agenda and ambitions.

While some capitals still rely on occasional cooperation with London in the field of missiles or some “targeted” mission, France will face a very specific challenge. It will remain linked to London under the 2010 Lancaster House bilateral treaty on defense cooperation, particularly in the nuclear field. Meanwhile, Germany will face his “natural” partner, whose streak is always uncertain when it comes to power, independence and the use of force. Without London to balance this strange relationship, how would it develop?

This may be the key to the post-Brexit era for Europe that is now likely to have a “strategic compass” and a genuine desire for autonomy. But he remains unsure of his ability to unite to influence the course of the world.

(Excerpt from the Foreign Press Review by Epr Comunicazione)

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