Macron on Defence Europe

At the beginning of the next decade Europe will have to have a joint intervention force, a common defence budget and a common doctrine.” The French head of state, Emmanuel Macron, could not have given a clearer vision of Defence Europe than he did in a 90-minute speech delivered yesterday at the University of La Sorbonne in Paris.

Emmanuel Macron made a 90-minute speech in the Grand Amphitheatre of La Sorbonne and then spent nearly an hour answering questions (most of them posed by young women!) from the audience

Like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Macron remains convinced that the construction of Defence Europe must take into account the “progressive and inevitable disengagement of the United States, and a lasting terrorist phenomenon whose intended purpose is to fracture our free societies.” For the French Head of State, Europe’s aim must therefore be to acquire an autonomous capacity of action “complimentary to NATO” and he welcomed the “historical progress made in recent months.”

He highlighted the fact that “last June, we laid the foundations for this Defence Europe; a permanent cooperation structure that allows us to enhance our commitments, move forwards together and improve our coordination; but also a Defence Europe Fund to finance our capabilities and our research.”

But Macron believes that “we must go further” because “what is most lacking in (…) this Defence Europe is a common strategic culture.” He regretted “our inability to act together convincingly [which] challenges our credibility as Europeans.” Conscious of the fact that Europeans do not all “share the same cultures, parliamentarians, histories, policies or the same sensibilities” and that this will not change “in a day,” Macron proposed to begin the construction of this common culture with a very concrete idea: “to welcome into our national armies – and I open this initiative with the French armies – military personnel from all European countries willing to participate, as upstream as possible, in our anticipatory work, intelligence, planning and operations support.

The French president also wants to extend this common culture to the intelligence services in order to better fight terrorism. He called for “the creation of a European Intelligence Academy to strengthen ties between our countries through training and exchanges.”

Criticizing the UK government’s decision to leave the European Union in barely veiled terms, Macron stressed that “all the challenges that lie ahead – from global warming, to digital transition via migration, terrorism, all these are global challenges against which a nation that shrinks in on itself can do little or nothing.”

Regretting that “we let the idea install itself that Europe had become an impotent bureaucracy” and that “throughout Europe we’ve explained that whenever there’s a constraint it’s because of Europe,” or that “whenever incapacity struck, it was not us but Brussels!” the French president countered that “we are all Brussels, always, all the time!” And he warned that “we can no longer choose the path of national withdrawal, which would lead to a collective wreck.”