The Franco-German confrontation to lead European defense handicaps the response to Russia

Did the Franco-German confrontation, around the supposed leadership of European defense initiatives, get the better of Thierry Breton's ambitions regarding the European Defense Industry Program?

Indeed, where the European Commissioner hoped for €100 billion to revive and strengthen the European defense industry, and to finance Ukrainian needs to face Russia, this will have only obtained €1,6 billion from the European Union, a drop in the ocean in the face of the challenges that must be addressed.

We can guess, behind this missed opportunity for the European Union, at the worst of times, the miasma of this confrontation between Paris and Berlin, and a veto from Germany, which does not encounter the same difficulties as France, to finance its European ambitions in terms of defense, and which has no desire to provide the French, but also others, such as Italy, with the means to challenge its own leadership in this area.

The fact is, today, this less and less speckled foil confrontation, between Paris and Berlin, for the leadership of European defense, considerably handicaps the collective response of Europeans to the Russian threat, and their support for Ukraine.

Defense Europe: an idealized Franco-German ambition, but poorly framed

Paradoxically, the very idea of ​​Defense Europe, in its final form, at least, comes from a Franco-German initiative. In 2017, following the arrival of Emmanuel Macron at the Élysée, and the tensions between Angela Merkel and Donald Trump, Paris and Berlin jointly engaged in a series of initiatives aimed at building this Europe of Defense , around the Franco-German couple.

Franco-German confrontation Merkel Macron
Although committed to a common program to bring about the emergence of Defense Europe, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel looked in two opposite directions to give birth to it.

In quick succession, they jointly announced the launch of several structuring defense programs for the future of European armies, with the 6th generation combat aircraft FCAS, MGCS for the replacement of Leclerc tanks and Leopard 2, CIFS in the field of artillery, MAWS in that of maritime patrol, and Tiger 3, concerning combat helicopters.

At that time, Franco-German cohesion was such that Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel even talked about the creation of a European Army, paving the way for the emergence of Europe in the global concert of superpowers. .

Quickly, however, certain realities came to erode, then slash, these probably too idealized ambitions. Thus, the Tiger 3, MAWS and CIFS programs were successively abandoned by Berlin, either to turn to purely national solutions, or to turn to American equipment, while relations between Berlin and Washington were normalizing.

The two surviving programs, FCAS and MGCS, encountered many obstacles, and were, on several occasions, on the verge of implosion, against a backdrop of disagreements around questions of sharing between French and German industries.

In both cases, the firm intervention of the responsible ministers of the two countries was necessary to preserve them, without, moreover, their future being absolutely guaranteed, quite the contrary.

Repeated attacks between Paris and Berlin in recent months on Defense issues

It must be recognized that, in this area, the attacks mainly came from Germany, until recently. This was the case when Olaf Scholz presented the European Sky Shield initiative, in Prague in August 2022, aiming to create a homogeneous anti-aircraft and anti-missile shield in Europe.

Olaf Scholz
In recent weeks, French and German leaders have increased their mutual attacks, the consequences of two opposing visions, and two competing ambitions in Europe, in terms of defense.

This is based, in fact, on three anti-aircraft systems, the German Iris-T SLM, the American Patriot, and the Israeli Arrow 3, excluding other European anti-aircraft systems, such as the French SAMP/T Mamba. -Italian, equivalent to the Patriot, or the French Mica VL and the Norwegian Nasams, comparable to the German Iris-t SLM.


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