November 3, 2010
The UK-France summit of 2nd November 2011 has been presented as a major step forward as for bi-lateral cooperation in defence and security issues refers. Indeed, it is, as both countries say in a common declaration, “the UK and France are natural partners in security and defence. As permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, NATO Allies, European Union members, and Nuclear Weapons States, [they] share many common interests and responsibilities”. Following this preamble, they express their strong links, as “[they] do not see situations arising in which the vital interests of either nation could be threatened without the vital interests of the other also being threatened”.
Some rather bold decisions bold decisions follow: strong cooperation in training, procurement, aircraft carriers and deterrence. For some more details, it would be better to read the complete declaration on British Prime Minister website.
Should we see include in this declaration a step forward for European Defence? For sure not.
Firstly, the UK and France simply “encourage all European Union members to develop their military, civilian, and civilian-military capabilities, so that European countries can become more effective at delivering security and responding to crises”. Doing this, they do not commit themselves to reinforce European Defence, or at least the institutional side of this idea, as they just encourage the Member States to do some efforts.
Secondly, NATO will remain the cornerstone of collective defence, and not the Lisbon Treaty.
Thirdly, in contrary to some of the NATO pillars (I think about Germany), both countries declare that NATO nuclear capability is the basis of the alliance.
Fourthly, they fully anti-ballistic missile defence if Russia is associated. Europe would be unable to implement such a decision yet.
Last point is expressed by the pictures taken at the occasion: none of them shows the European flag, in opposition to the usual pictures presenting the President of the French Republic. Every detail is taken into account to show that this is a pure bilateral agreement, not aiming in reinforcing the European Defence. You can see here below, on this official picture taken out of the 10 Downing Street website:f.