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14th Franco-German Council of Ministers

Published on February 10, 2012
Statement by the foreign affairs and defence ministers¹

Paris, February 6, 2012

Towards strengthened European security and defence

An active contribution to European security and defence

France and Germany are firmly committed to strengthening European security and defence through ever closer bilateral and European cooperation. We have long shared a vision of strengthened European defence. The Lisbon Treaty offers new opportunities to take this vision forward. We reaffirm our dedication to the Atlantic Alliance as the fundamental guarantor of collective defence. We are determined to ensure Europe’s crucial security and defence contribution to a strong Atlantic Alliance and we aim at improving relations between NATO and the EU.

Mindful of our common responsibility in times of budget constraints and instability at European borders, France and Germany are willing to enhance Europe’s contribution to its own security, and its ability to undertake action in the field of security and defence by defining and implementing concrete responses. We believe that the Common Security and Defence Policy is a credible and effective crisis management tool. We are determined to further strengthen the EU with a view to advancing the CSDP, including in terms of structures, capabilities and operations, building on the conclusions of the December 2011 EU Foreign Affairs Council. France and Germany will actively work on the implementation of these conclusions. Our efforts will include the launch of preparatory work for a CSDP engagement in the Sahel and the ongoing work on the reinforcement of regional maritime capabilities in the Horn of Africa. We reaffirm our intention to further support the Atalanta operation and EUTM Somalia as major contributions of the CSDP towards stabilizing Somalia.

In times of strategic uncertainty and limited resources, strengthened defence requires common procurement. As a consequence we must be ready to take the necessary decisions. Germany and France underline their commitment to push forward the EDA and Ghent initiatives on pooling & sharing. In close cooperation with our European partners, we will continue to pursue our common objective of developing a permanent European civil-military planning and conduct capability.

France and Germany reaffirm their joint commitment to actively contribute to stabilization in the Western Balkans. They consider that the EU will have, in due time, to take the responsibility for security in this region.

Enhanced Franco-German strategic dialogue

We are determined to foster the strategic dialogue at all relevant levels in order to strengthen the links between our political, military and administrative structures. During upcoming crises, France and Germany will closely consult before national decisions concerning the engagement of military forces are taken. This dialogue aims at deepening our mutual understanding and aligning national positions on issues discussed within the UN, NATO and EU, taking into account our different strategic and force cultures. Additionally, we affirm our intention to further develop our cooperation and our common contribution to European security and defence, to achieve capability synergies and to make progress on future capabilities and a common industrial base.

The Franco-German Brigade will continue to significantly contribute to fulfilling the operational requirements of both countries. A common assessment of future crises will initially require Franco-German responses, including, possibly, the commitment of the Franco-German Brigade. In this regard, France and Germany aim to harmonize different national administrative procedures and simplify them wherever possible.

With a view to national parliaments’ roles in security and defence policy, a direct dialogue has already been established between the defence ministers and the parliamentary defence committees of the two countries. We expressly welcome further parliamentary initiatives on establishing regular exchange on international security and defence matters between the two parliaments. We want to stimulate public debate on defence and security in France and Germany by putting the Franco-German dialogue on an even broader footing and intensifying the exchange of views between defence experts.

At the OSCE Ministerial Council in Vilnius, France and Germany, along with Poland and Russia, announced their decision to launch a common reflection on European security, based on the work of four independent national research institutes. Proceeding from the conviction that the security of all states in the Euro-Atlantic community is indivisible, France and Germany reaffirm their will to work more closely with Russia on security in the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian area.

The enhanced strategic dialogue will also include reflections on crisis scenarios, with a particular focus on the Middle East and Africa. The aim of this analysis is to coordinate France and Germany’s assessments by incorporating the partner’s views in national security policy documents and then, on the basis of these documents, developing common options. Results of the strategic dialogue could be endorsed on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty in 2013.

Closer cooperation on capabilities

Pooling & sharing as well as cooperation are key instruments in closing capability gaps and in ensuring the provision of adequate military capabilities. We strongly support the EU and NATO initiatives currently being pursued. France and Germany welcome the ongoing work on the full implementation of the European Air Transport Command (EATC) and will consider options to expand its capabilities and capacities. We welcome the work currently undertaken within the framework of Cooperation 2020 and believe it should be continued. These studies should put the emphasis on the enhancement of mutual medical support and on an arrangement on the provision of CSAR support by France for Germany and CH-53 helicopter lift capacity by Germany for France.

We are convinced that further progress must be made towards coordinating our analysis of future national capability needs and on the necessary convergence with respect to the preparation and implementation of common weaponry programmes. France and Germany agree that the readiness to use “integrated teams” should be fostered by initiating a “joint capability process” that brings together the military expertise as well as the strategic and procurement capacities of both countries. We also fully support the efforts of the European Defence Agency to define critical capabilities and pooling & sharing initiatives.

France and Germany aim to explore joint options for future training, armament, operational doctrines and interoperability projects, to achieve greater convergence in the definition of military and operational requirements, to achieve the harmonization of registration procedures for arms and weapons systems (mutual recognition of test methods) and to ensure ongoing coordination between users and suppliers. We remain committed to promoting cooperation on space activities wherever possible (including earth observation within the MUSIS framework). We also want to promote cooperation on space situational awareness (SSA) with a view to developing a common capability as the nucleus of the SSA capability in Europe, as well as with regard to helicopters, land systems and missile defence activities.
In order to preserve and strengthen the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base, we intend to improve the effectiveness of our defence research and technology activities, in particular at the Franco-German Research Institute of Saint-Louis and within the European Defence Agency. Furthermore, we will aim for synergies between defence research and civil research in the field of security. Germany and France will identify the first areas in which those key technological capabilities are to be preserved and strengthened in Europe and will promote the development of joint Franco-German project driven industrial proposals. At the same time, we will address industrial and market regulation issues, e.g. concerning security of supply and control of foreign investments.

A common responsibility for European security

Having regard to the 50th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty, France and Germany agree to give new impetus to our common security and defence policy. In a rapidly evolving security environment, we will examine how to improve the structures of Franco-German cooperation. Our common efforts to improve European defence capabilities will contribute to strengthening European integration and the Atlantic partnership as the essential pillars of our security policy./.

¹ Source of English text: German Federal Foreign Office website.

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