France and the Rationalisation of the Defence Industry: National, European or Transatlantic Strategy?
Ever since the Defence White Paper (Livre Blan.) of 1994, France has been officially wedded to the progressive merging of her defence activities with those of her Western European partners. This involves, most prominently, the development of a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the emergence of a European Security and Defence Identity (ESDI) from within NATO. One important key to that strategy is the Europeanisation of the defence industry. The White Paper stated openly that “no major conventional weapons programme now seems able to avoid the logic of cooperation”. France appeared to have embarked on a process which amounted to the abandonment of her long-standing policy of national weapons self-sufficiency. The further promotion of the still gestating European Armaments Agency was to be given high priority. Implicit in all the documentation on this development is the notion that France was preparing to shift from national autarky in armaments to European autonomy. Nevertheless, while it was made clear that the state would no longer automatically underpin domestic companies, it was also assumed that France would aim to retain her relatively dominant position in both aerospace and defence electronics systems.1
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