‘Rentrée dans le rang?’ France, NATO and the EU, from the Védrine report to the 2013 French White Paper on national security and defence
In his report to the president of the French Republic in November 2012 assessing France’s return into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO’s) military command structure, Hubert Védrine, the former French Minister of Foreign Affairs, noted that France had no interest in leaving it again. His recommendations called for renewed action within the Alliance and the emergence of a European pillar. The timing should have been perfect, with France’s draft White Paper on defence and security about to be published. However, at a time when budget cuts prevail, are these recommendations applicable and do they amount to more than just paying lip-service? This article focuses on a one-year period, from November 2012 to the latest debates around the Military Programming Law, reminiscent of Pierre Mendès-France’s famous quote that governing is all about making choices.
KeywordsFrance NATO European defence Hubert Védrine White Paper
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- 1.Hubert Védrine interviewed by Axel Krause, September 3, 2009, https://doi.org/transatlantic-magazine.com/interview-with-hubert-vedrine/.
- 2.Theo Farrell, Sten Rynning, and Terry Terriff, Transforming Military Power since the Cold War: Britain, France and the United States, 1991–2012 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 124: ‘The political legacy of the left-wing is distinctively Gaullist, marked by President Mitterrand’s commitment of the French left to nuclear deterrence but at the expense of maintaining a critical distance to NATO. The legacy still plays out. The new Defence minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, is known for criticising President Sarkozy’s 2008 decision to fully reintegrate into NATO, and the Hollande team […] more broadly is EU enthusiastic’. One must also not forget anti-Americanism as a deep seated feature of French public opinion — see for instanceCrossRefGoogle Scholar
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