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Defending Europe? A stocktaking of French and German Visions for European Defense Etudes de l'IRSEM n° 41, September 2015

The aim of this study consists of taking stock of strategic thinking in France and Germany. More concretely, it intends to identify compatible and incompatible aspects, as well as the potential for compromise, in these national considerations on the future of CSDP and NATO. In so doing, it concentrates on five issues: strategic visions, threat perception and military doctrine; the institutional framework for European defense; military interventions; capabilities as well as the industrial dimension.


Numerous examples seem to illustrate the incompatibility of French and German strategic cultures. The two countries’ very different political choices in concrete situations such as the military intervention in Libya have been the subject of many debates. These differences not only hamper European security policy and thus the establishment of the European Union as a full-fledged world-wide security actor, but also cooperation within the Franco-German tandem. While France and Germany remain the “motor” couple of European integration, their dialog on security matters continues to be difficult (and too infrequent, notably in times of the Euro crisis). Strategic cultures, world views and ideas on the role to play on the international stage, as well as the attention (publicly) devoted to security policy are essentially different. Mutual incomprehension is thus manifest in Paris and Berlin, with obvious difficulties to understand the other’s objectives and motivation.

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Défense French-German relations France Germany Europe