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8ème conférence sur la défense et la sécurité européennes à Berlin

As a representative of a think-tank, I just want to point to a few specific thoughts about the concept of interests, and above all of European interests. I was very shocked to see that in the revised European Security Strategy we mentioned European interests only twice. Since European interests were not defined in Europe, they were so linked to the interests of others that indeed they have never been our own. In fact, the revised strategic concept could take into account a new world order and the evolution of our needs. And I do believe that it could be a new point of departure for a new strategy.




1. Right now on our borders we have only one strategy- and that is enlargement. This is the only response to our goal of preserving our way of life: to extend the European standards. But I don’t think the only answer is to implement security on our borders. As said this morning, we also need a true foreign policy on our borders and this is what we lack, for example toward Turkey, Moldova, Belarus, and maybe Ukraine. And if we continue to satisfy ourselves with the enlargement policy alone, I’m quite sure that we shall have one or two surprises due to some local crisis on our borders in the future. For the time being we have not had to launch any external operation on our borders except in the former Yugoslavia, but since then we’ve never had to engage military or civilian operations.


2. Secondly there is Russia. If we want to put forward our European interests, the relationship with Russia, the relationship that Europe should have with Russia is totally different, but normally what people say and think at present is that it is in our specific European interest to normalize our relations with our big neighbour. If we are in Paris or in Berlin we don’t have the same view as those sitting in Washington or in London. This is an example that might mean a great deal to many right now.

3. The third example, as said this morning, is our defence industry. We are implementing, with two directives, the new rules for our defence market within the European Union. But at the same time, we know that competition, world competition is pushing us to protect some of the technology since we need to preserve a European industry in the future. We cannot act in this field in the same way we act with regard to consumer goods.






My second remark is about capacities. At the moment there are mainly two countries in Europe which are making a big effort with regard to defence research; this is the United Kingdom and France, and you are aware of the lack of funding we have in this field. I really think that if we want to re-launch a new strategy goal we also need to put peer pressure on all of the Members States, because the goal is to guarantee European security and not only to push for external operations. With the Lisbon Treaty - with the “Clause de défense mutuelle” - with the new objectives of the common defence policy, we also need to implement our own defence. To achieve this, I’m quite sure that in its new role the European Parliament could help in applying peer pressure on all of the Member States by telling people and citizens, who are very supportive of a common European defence policy, what countries are really doing for our common security. With regard to permanent structural cooperation, I’m sure that the Lisbon Treaty could be a new way of putting them forward, but in fact if we look to the past, as we have said before, we know that circumstances decide better than the policy makers- and I’m quite sure that we shall have some opportunities to establish types of cooperation that we never had before.

And to conclude, I would like to insist that with regard to the concept of specific European interests, we find it hard to define our own interests in the world. We generally think that we have the same interests as our best allies, the Americans, and that we have common structures made to share these common interests, this is the term that we use generally. But in the new world I’m not quite sure that it can continue like this. We have our own specific interests and we must have our own view.