France has just published an extremely interesting Strategic Review which is a major contribution to reflection by a Europe that is trying to strengthen its defence. Written under the guidance of MEP Arnaud Danjean, who knows what he is talking about, this lucid, comprehensive document is, for once, free of any of the usual waffle.
The dangers and threats of a strategic fast-developing environment are clearly and objectively explained. The changes ongoing in the world are affecting Europe, its interests, its ideas - and not only in its neighbourhood. International competition is stronger than ever before, including in the military domain; the international order that we know is collapsing before our very eyes and power struggles, faits accomplis as well as further violence, are taking over from the customs and rules of an international community the organisation of which is now under challenge.
The problems caused by the behaviour of some major powers are mentioned in this publication, sometimes including those of our allies, and no one can now say, after reading this contribution that in Europe there was not a global vision of security and defence issues.
For Europe and France, defence starts a long way away, at the bottom of the oceans, where submarine cables communicate our information traffic, on all of the seas that carry our exports and supplies, and also in all regions of the planet, where new intimidation strategies are at play - with challenges being made to fundamental freedoms, such as that of navigation, restriction tactics and the will to create spheres of influence, hidden aggression using new forms of ambiguous warfare in outer or cyber space.
Defending oneself without fighting is no longer enough for the continent, and, given the hardening of the operational environment, Europe needs effective, comprehensive arms, as well as effective cooperation to defend and promote its interests, so that a more active diplomacy can gain in credibility.
This is France's choice. It assumes this in a spirit of cooperation for the defence of shared interests. France declares that it is not designing its defence strategy in its own corner, and that includes in the nuclear area. It is calling for Europe's global responsibility, which is loyal to its vision of the world. It has proved this in the field by committing to the fight to counter terrorism.
France's double ambition of true strategic autonomy and to build a stronger Europe is clearly set out in this official document, which lays the foundation for its defence policy over the next few years. Europeans should take this outstretched hand to move towards a true defence policy for Europe.