As was recalled in a recent analysis published by the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) the Federal Republic of Germany and France had, for decades, been considered "to be the closest allies in Europe, even in their security and defense policies." Bonn and Paris had successfully "established a unique network of links in military cooperation," including the German-French Brigade or even the Franco-German École Tigre, training the Tigre combat helicopter pilots of the two countries. The German-French EADS company cooperation project, founded as exemplary in July 2000, is "today, Europe's largest aircraft and space enterprise," emphasizes the DGAP. However, the analysis does not mention the persisting German-French rivalry being carried out inside EADS, as well as in other sectors of the European arms industry. Paris has had to cede to Berlin with growing regularity. This is not only the case in the arms industry, but also in questions of the EU's intervention policies.
In the meantime, Paris has begun to take the consequences of the growing blatancy of Berlin's predominance. The initial steps were introduced by France's former President Nicolas Sarkozy, immediately after his inauguration - with his August 2007 announcement of again becoming more active in NATO, writes the DGAP. This facilitated the "patching over of traditional security policy contradictions between France and Great Britain," which paved the way for Paris to "reach a rapid rapprochement" with London. This rapprochement was concretely initiated during the "elaboration of the basic security and defense policy documents." In 2009, representatives of the British Defense Ministry participated in the formulation of important French military documents ("White Paper on Defense and National Security," "Military Program Law 2009 - 2014") and inversely, French military personnel participated in the formulation of the corresponding British papers ("National Security Strategy"). The newly elected French President François Hollande intends to include Great Britain also in the formulation of the next "White Paper on Defense." This close cooperation has resulted in "a large consensus (...) of both countries' strategic positions concerning international challenges," writes the DGAP.
Nearly Unobstructed Cooperation
The DGAP's analysis points out that the Franco-British cooperation extends far beyond general strategic concepts to include numerous aspects of military and arms industrial business practice. Much of what Great Britain and France agreed on November 2, 2010 in London, either has been successfully implemented or is on the best route toward implementation. This includes the creation of the "Combined Joint Expeditionary Force" of 6,000 soldiers, which has already carried out several maneuvers and should be deployable - in any kind of combat mission - by 2016. The experience of the Libyan War has already been evaluated and deficiencies are being corrected. There are difficulties in establishing their bi-national aero-naval fleet unit, but their "agreed cooperation in the areas of arms technology and the arms industry is continuing unobstructed." The nuclear cooperation, which enables Great Britain, in spite of the immense austerity pressure, to maintain its nuclear deterrent capacity, is also significant.
Berlin, for a long time, has dangerously underestimated this Franco-British cooperation. It was considered to simply be an "austerity program with little substance," the DGAP writes. Meanwhile, however, it would certainly be "appropriate to revise this assessment." France and Great Britain are determined to continue to follow "the path of close security and military cooperation decided back in November 2010." This does more than offer them a possibility to carry out military operations without German approval - as in the case of Libya. "Their agreement on cooperation of their arms industries" also provides both countries with "the possibility of taking the lead in the development of new key technologies," thereby "consolidating" the European armaments market in their favor. The development of drone production in Europe is an example of drawbacks this could create for Germany. In February 2012, London and Paris reached another accord seeking to overcome remaining shortages in their cooperation and resolved to undertake new projects. These include the development of drones, which no longer will be done in cooperation with EADS, but only as a project of the British BAE Systems and the French Dassault Group. This would mean that Germany would be pushed aside in a central field of the arms industry - much to Berlin's dismay.
The London-Paris Axis
The DGAP urgently recommends an intensification of German-French cooperation in the arms industries. François Hollande, the newly elected president of France, has "reached out his hand." Germany is otherwise threatened not only to suffer substantial setbacks for its arms industry, but the EU could become divided along military policy lines between a London-Paris Axis, ready to intervene at all times, and a by far, less powerful rest of the countries, with Germany being incapable of influencing Franco-British activities through the office of the EU's "Common Security and Defense Policy."
The DGAP's choice of calling it a new "Entente Cordiale" refers to the Franco-British "Entente Cordiale" of 1904 formed to synchronize their global interests and forge a common defense in Europe against a growing German domination - in face of the menacing rise in power of the German Reich. The awareness that European policy is essentially being dictated by Berlin - which is not only evident in the EU's approach to the Euro Crisis, - has led to this new Franco-British alliance. To face that challenge, sovereign initiatives are required. In November 2010, Prime Minister Cameron made explicit reference to the historical backdrop of this British-French alliance policy, when he declared that “Britain and France have a shared history through two World Wars."