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N° 2567











Registration made on October 11, 2005.











on the relationship between Europe and the United States(1)
















(1)Members of the fact finding commission are listed on next page


The members of the fact finding commission on relationship between Europe and the United States are : M. Edouard BALLADUR, Chairman ; M. Axel PONIATOWSKI, Rapporteur ; MM. Philippe COCHET, Jacques GODFRAIN, Jean-Jacques GUILLET, François LONCLE, Paul QUILÈS, Rudy SALLES.

a. – how europe lost its strategic importance for the united states : a unanimous finding 14
. From an alliance of survival to an alliance of choice


 2. How American preoccupations have changed direction: the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the threat of Islamic terrorism 16
3. The Chinese question 17
B. – Towards a common goal for the West 18
1. American ambiguities 18
2. European contradictions 21
3. The Atlantic Alliance, symbol of these ambiguities and contradictions 25
A. – Do Europeans and Americans still share the same values ?. 31
1. The existence of specifically American values 31

2. Fundamental values : a fellowship of ideas

B. -The interests debate : a shared transatlantic destiny 36
1. Common challenges and threats 36
2. Unequalled economic integration 37
C. – A partnership vital for international stability 41
1. Differences that lead to inefficiency 41
2. Co-ordination leading to success 44
A. – Stepping up transatlantic dialogue 54
B. – Co-operating more effectively 58







The transatlantic relationship will never again be what it was during the Cold War, and it would be pointless to try to recreate the transatlantic ethos of that era. Nevertheless, the need for a strong link between Europe and the United States is as pressing as ever : first of all, in economic terms the two partners clearly need each other : trade between Europe and the United States accounts for a total of 12 million jobs ; secondly, the preservation of a strong and coherent transatlantic relationship goes far beyond mere European and American interests, for such a relationship is undeniably an essential component of world stability and security. It is therefore in the interests of both partners to maintain a strong transatlantic link, for without it, they risk becoming at best ineffectual, at worst impotent, in the search for solutions to major international problems.

The question therefore is not whether the transatlantic link can endure, but whether it can be restructured and adapted : how can the European Union and the United States tailor their relationship so as to accommodate their differences in a civilised manner, while at the same time capitalising on their shared vision ?

In an attempt to respond to these questions, the fact-finding commission set up by the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs Committee has put forward seven proposals, which together form the blueprint for a new transatlantic agreement between two equal partners, an agreement in line with current international realities.

Two of the proposals relate to French-American relations which, the authors believe, would benefit from a dispassionate analysis:

- Proposal n° 1 aims to set up a French foundation for transatlantic relations. There is no doubt that France needs professionals capable of defending her position and disseminating her message: the purpose of the proposed foundation is therefore to strengthen and extend the work of State-run bodies by launching three initiatives: firstly, an invitation to American leaders and opinion-formers to  increase their awareness of French opinion on a range of subjects (foreign policy, institutional structures, public policies …..) by spending several weeks in the country: secondly,  defending France and promoting her image in the United States by various means including public education campaigns; finally, the creation of French cultural centres in American universities – a form of “intellectual diplomacy”.


- Proposal n° 2 aims to reconstruct the symbols of the Franco-American relationship.

To this end the commission proposes an annual bilateral meeting at the highest level, to be held alternatively in France and in the United States, involving the two Presidents and the French Prime Minister.

Its aim would be to evaluate the success of collaborative projects, examining areas of agreement as well as potentially contentious issues. It would also seek to create a practical working relationship between France and the United States, so as to forestall the recurrence of disputes which can sometimes take a dramatic turn.

The high level political summit would help to launch and promote the initiatives for mutual cooperation between France and the United States in high-profile areas : medical research: cooperation in the field of nuclear power and other alternative sources of energy : in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the United States, France could propose joint action on civil defence and the prevention of natural disasters. Moreover, the frequency of these events could persuade our two countries to cooperate in a joint initiative on climate change : the American suspension of the Kyoto protocol should not dissuade us from raising environmental issues with them.

The next five proposals have a European context. Their unifying philosophy is this: the transatlantic agreement of the Cold War era, with its simple equation of “security in exchange for unwavering solidarity”, should be replaced with a new agreement based on five proposals. These have a dual purpose : more meaningful dialogue (1) and more effective cooperation (2).

(1) The first two proposals seek to invest the new transatlantic agreement with a structural dimension:

- the appointment of a European coordinator for transatlantic relations (proposal n° 3).

The role of the European coordinator would be to lead, within the European Community, an intra-European discourse on transatlantic relations, so that areas of agreement can be identified, or at the very least, differences between member States can be ironed out. As a practical starting-point, member States could be asked to engage in a significant debate in the area of economics and finance: the question of a more balanced European Union presence in the Bretton Woods institutions ; in the area of defence and security, they could focus on the crucial question of European Union member States’ budgetary contribution to defence, a matter which is examined in detail in a separate proposal.

- the creation of a shared permanent bilateral European Union-United States secretariat for transatlantic relations (proposal n° 4)

The current structures of European Union-United States dialogue need to be simplified - they are too complex and do not allow continuous monitoring of dossiers. It is therefore suggested that this dialogue should take place within the framework of an institution created for this specific purpose: the permanent bilateral European Union-United States secretariat for transatlantic relations.  On the European side, it would be led by the European coordinator for transatlantic relations.

This secretariat would have four responsibilities :

-        preparation for European Union-United States summits, meetings of multilateral financial institutions and monitoring of transatlantic negotiations within the framework of the World Trade Organisation ;

-        drawing up proposals for improving economic integration ;

-        organising brain-storming sessions to consider possible future crisis scenarios (example: what if several unstable states acquired the bomb?) ;

-        acting as an early warning system for issues that could lead to tensions between Europe and the United States.

(2) The last three proposals are specifically concerned with the military and strategic sphere and are based on the principle of “share the burden, share the decisions”.

The burden in question is of course defence expenditure. This is a difficult issue and the States of the Union are duty-bound to provide a coherent response: a modern transatlantic agreement is one in which Europe faces up to her responsibilities and is no longer solely dependent on American power to protect her from a clearly identified threat. To this end, the committee has drawn up a long-term programme of coordination and development of the Union’s defence expenditure (proposal no. 5).

Coordination is vital because it is incumbent on all Europeans to resolve the structural problem of insufficient spending on new weaponry within the context of overall defence spending.  This is an efficiency issue.  The programme, therefore, has two main aims: one, to encourage certain fellow member States to increase their spending: France does her share in this regard, and some of her partners should follow her example; two, to improve coordination of European defence spending.

In return, the main European players in the area of defence should be able to achieve better coordination within NATO, within a new, exclusively European six-member group (France, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland). The objective of proposal no.6 is to achieve a more equitable balance of Europeans and Americans in the Alliance.  This will involve a great deal of advance consultation among Europeans, which at the moment is not happening.  It will undoubtedly be very difficult to manage, but in the longer term there is no alternative. This re-distribution of political responsibilities in the Alliance should bring about a re-distribution of military responsibilities: the commission is in favour of re-balancing the leadership structures in the Alliance. 

Finally, proposal no. 7 aims to engage with the fact that the role of the Alliance is not clearly understood today.  The Alliance did not emerge unscathed from America’s refusal, in 2001, to activate the mutual assistance clause – despite the fact that in historical terms, this clause is the Alliance’s raison d’être

From this standpoint, the only solution seems to be to rethink the strategic concept of NATO, rebuilding it around three main themes :

- reaffirmation of the Alliance’s principal duty, which is collective defence;

- clarification of the Alliance’s criteria for intervention;

- a clearly defined policy stating the exact circumstances in which NATO will intervene in situations arising outside the European-American zone.

This is a summary of the report’s seven proposals, all highly pragmatic. They point to a new transatlantic agreement with a clear purpose: to sweep away the ambiguities clouding transatlantic relations – ambiguities that could, in the long term, threaten our ability to act jointly against the challenges facing us in the world today - and to strengthen the bonds between Europe and the United States by making them more efficient.






Ladies and gentlemen,

While during the Cold War the cornerstone of the relationship between Europe and the United States was the principle of unity, and its key structure was the Atlantic Alliance, since the fall of the Berlin Wall developments on the international stage have to a large extent complicated this relationship. Today, the strength of this relationship, indeed its very survival, has repeatedly been called into question on both sides of the Atlantic, particularly since the war in Iraq.

Since the Iraq crisis, a great deal has been written on this subject. Hundreds of articles and papers have focused on the magnitude and depth of the crisis, some welcoming, others deploring it. The first group wants the former Cold War partners to move still further apart, while the second points out that the transatlantic relationship has always managed to weather the not infrequent crises that have marked its history.

We must ask why Parliament would take an interest in this apparently rather stale subject – surely there is nothing more to be said? Why has the Foreign Affairs Committee been asked by its President to set up a fact-finding commission, which has devoted about twenty hearings and nine months of work to this question?


While the bilateral crisis between France and the United States remains an all too vivid memory, we felt it was important that not only academics and experts, but also French politicians, should express their opinion on the future course of our relationship with a country which, whether it fascinates or irritates us, is still our chief ally outside the European Union. This report therefore offers a French vision of the relationship between Europe and the United States – not in the spirit of seeking to impose such a model on its European partners, but rather as a serious contribution by French parliamentarians to the current debate within many European countries on the future of relations between Europe and the United States. The commission is fully aware of the “special” nature of the Franco-American relationship, which must not be confused with any other relationship between one of our European partners and the US.

The commission feels that both in France and in certain other European countries, relations with the United States are perceived as being either “natural”, or resulting from a legacy of history which people have to accept. However, transatlantic relations do not happen automatically, nor do they possess any historic justification. Regarding the current legitimacy of these relations, the mission seeks to address one crucial question: if transatlantic relationships are indeed a deliberate political choice made by France and its European Union partners, what, for each one of them, are the real reasons underlying such a choice? Why do France and its European partners wish to retain a special bond with the United States?

Conversely, from the American point of view, if the United States is really the unilateralist imperial power some people claim it to be, what does it have to gain by maintaining a special relationship with Europe? Let us not forget that the President, as he began his second term in office, strongly reaffirmed his desire for this relationship to continue. The fact is that in America too, this traditional relationship is a continuing source of controversy in which Europe is frequently accused of weakness, and seen as the Venus to America’s Mars. This is not however the opinion of the majority, and it would be a mistake to assume that American foreign policy is a monolithic concept, when in fact it results from an on-going process of compromise involving the White House, the State Department, the Pentagon and Congress. The debate is nonetheless genuine, and it would be inappropriate to dismiss it as the opinion of a few isolated celebrities and intellectuals.


When we examine, in clear and simple terms, the legitimacy and the origins of post-Cold War transatlantic relations, we also discredit and disprove the clichés and fantasies surrounding the United States in France, as well as in some other European countries: the perception of an imperialist, militarist and expansionist America is as much a caricature as is a Europe seen as routinely pacifist and careless of risks to its security. The support and involvement of European countries in the war in Afghanistan, as well as American support for the European strategy on the Iran nuclear dossier, encourages us to distance ourselves from such stereotypes and from the arguments put forward by irresponsible merchants of doom.

Conversely, it is also time to stop seeing the relationship between France and her European partners and the United States in a sentimental and nostalgic light, and to look at the situation realistically.  The transatlantic relationship changed after the Cold War, and unless a new threat emerges to unite Europeans and Americans, the transatlantic relationship as we knew it has gone for ever.

This is not necessarily a negative development.  A new and as yet undefined relationship is waiting to emerge, poised between two different “models” at opposite ends of the spectrum: either Europeans will rally behind US leadership, or there will be an equal relationship between two entities who, while both belonging to the West, have very different, possibly even divergent, interests, or alternatively have the same interests but use very different methods to achieve their objectives.

Looking at these alternatives, it is easy to relate them to the debate on the identity of the European Union.  It must be said that in the course of its work, the commission was able to measure to what extent debates on the transatlantic relationship find echoes in the discussions on how Europe should be constructed, and on whether it can find a way to agree a common structure. The observation is particularly relevant to matters of defence, as by virtue of the Atlantic Alliance, the United States is a fully-fledged European power – an apt illustration of the complexity of the subject.


In order to put forward concrete solutions, capable of adapting post-Cold War transatlantic relations to the demands of the 21st century, it would seem necessary to clarify the origins, magnitude and potential importance of such relations. How can we put our findings to good use? To our way of thinking, this is the crucial question of the moment, and it is what we seek to address in this report.



The transatlantic relationship will never again be what it was during the Cold War and indeed it would be pointless to try and recreate the closeness of the transatlantic relationship as it was at the time. This is the most striking finding to emerge from the commission’s work.

Despite this, the necessity for a strong link between Europe and the United States is no less pressing, against a background of ever-increasing and unpredictable threats.  This is the second main finding emerging from the analysis of the relationship between Europe and the United States: it is in the interests of both partners to preserve a strong transatlantic link, or risk becoming ineffectual, or even impotent, when solutions to major international problems are being sought.


If Franco-American relations have always been chiefly characterised by a long history of friendship, they have also been marked by frequent tensions of varying severity. The same holds true for the majority of our European neighbours, to such an extent that one might say that transatlantic tensions are an integral part of relations between the majority of European countries and the United States.  We should not need to be reminded that from the very dawn of its history, the United States has consistently seen itself, and sought to construct itself, as an alternative to Europe and not as an extension of that continent.  Until their involvement in World War II in 1941, the United States lived as if it were a non-European nation, which was not inappropriate considering how its original population consisted of people who no longer wished to live in Europe, or had had to leave it.

The Soviet threat did not put an end to the tensions, but it did succeed in forging unprecedented levels of unity and solidarity between Western Europe and the United States.  The countries of Western Europe needed the US to protect them, while America needed Europe as a buffer against communism.

The fall of the Berlin Wall marked the end of this unique period in the history of the relationship between Europe and the United States.  Today we ask: what is the new definition of the transatlantic relationship in the absence of the Soviet threat, given that international terrorism does not have the same power to unify as the USSR nuclear arsenal? Are we to return to the pre-1941 pattern of an America which held itself aloof from foreign affairs unless they directly impinged on its national interests? 

a. – how europe lost its strategic importance for the united states : a unanimous finding

1. From an alliance of survival to an alliance of choice

In 2003 the Franco-American relationship experienced one of the most acute crises of its history.  Even if the exchanges were more muted, Germany and the United States also went through a period of tension, while, in the great majority of other European countries, it was only within one section of public opinion that voices were raised against the transatlantic relationship.  Thrown into sharp relief by America’s military intervention in Iraq, this crisis, which manifested itself in different ways depending on the country concerned, was in reality inevitable once the soviet threat no longer existed, for this threat shaped and defined the form and content of relations between Europe and the United States during the Cold War.

The Balkan wars of the 1990’s may have given the false impression that American security interests were still first and foremost anchored in Europe, that Europe still held the front line in the question of security and international stability.  The September 11, 2001 attacks had killed off the illusion of a transatlantic relationship surviving unchanged since the Cold War.  The status quo, which had endured in transatlantic relations since the fall of the Berlin Wall, was shattered; the existence of a direct threat to the United States reawakened unilateralist tendencies already at work there and which had in fact dominated American foreign policy before 1941. The September 11, 2001 attacks also buried the concept of the strategic primacy of the continent of Europe – in the new America that has declared war on international terrorism in central Asia and in the Middle East today, and may do the same somewhere else tomorrow, Europe is now just another front line.

The Iraq crisis provides the most convincing illustration of this finding.  It has in fact shown that some of the staunchest Cold War allies could hold radically different views on ways of solving contemporary international problems, and not be afraid to show them. The Iraq crisis thus exposed the rupture of the close connection between American national interests and those of some Europeans, the first group considering that the Iraq intervention fell within the scope of legitimate defence and the protection of their vital interests, the second having for the most part reasoned that their interests were best served by seeking a diplomatic solution to the crisis and that in any case, they had no obligation to fall into line with the American position.

All in all, we are witnessing a double “disconnection” since the end of the Cold War:

– In the first place, there is no longer an automatic connection between European security and US intervention: during the Cold War, a crisis within Europe had consequences internationally and directly affected American interests.  These days however, crises within Europe, such as the conflicts which shook the Balkans during the last decade, are part of a regional problem, and do not automatically affect the United States. Certainly the US did intervene, somewhat late in the day, in Bosnia, and at the beginning of the Kosovo crisis : realistically however, it has to be said that it is more a question of the inability of Europeans to deal with these situations on their own, rather than the interests of the United States, that prompts US intervention.

– In the second place, crises affecting American national interests no longer automatically entail the support and participation of the European states through NATO.  When on September 11, 2001 the NATO European states unanimously proposed activating the mutual assistance clause in the Foundation Treaty of the Atlantic Alliance, the United States refused this offer. That the United States, although cut to the heart, and considering itself moreover to be on a war footing, should refuse the activation of article V of the Foundation Treaty of the Atlantic Alliance(1) the principle of collective defence which is the historic raison d’être of the creation of the Alliance, and which had not yet been invoked, is deeply symbolic of how transatlantic relations have changed since the end of the Cold War.

The truth is that NATO no longer occupies a central place in the organisation of American forces: now it is a case of: “the mission makes the coalition”, to borrow Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld’s elegant phrase, neatly indicating to the European allies that calling on NATO, a key element of the European security apparatus, is now just one option among many for the Americans. Through this redefinition of the role of the Atlantic Alliance on the American strategic scene, the entire transatlantic contract is called into question.

During the Cold War, the contract at the heart of the transatlantic relationship was clear: faced with the Soviet menace, the states of Europe united to place themselves under the protection of America. Hence the dual process of establishing a military alliance, intended to guarantee the collective security of what was then the “free world”, and an economic and commercial union of Europe, with the military dimension stemming exclusively from the transatlantic connection. In brief, to combat the Soviet menace, an alliance of survival was established, founded on the principle of solidarity at any price. This is not to say that there were no transatlantic crises – who can forget the tension between France and the US after General de Gaulle’s decision to take France out of the integrated military structure? – but they never went so far as to question the necessity for the closest possible alliance. What is more, NATO remained, for the US as for the majority of our European partners, the central point of reference on security matters, as well as the only significant cultural and operational template in the military field.

Now the alliance between Europe, the United States and Canada is one of choice – a change symbolised by America’s “à la carte” use of NATO. They see this approach as justified by the new threats facing them: instead of the single threat presented by the former Soviet Union – which concentrated the mind - they are now facing multiple threats, not all of them emanating from states, which do not lend themselves to the classic approach of geographically limited permanent alliances. Thus, just as there is no longer one particular threat, nor one strategic issue endangering American dominance and security, so there is no longer a single framework for action. To put it another way, faced by security challenges which are mainly outside Europe – international terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, conflict in the Middle East, energy security, the emergence of China –, the unity of the Atlantic Alliance and of Europe no longer holds a permanent strategic interest for the United States. On the contrary, the nature and content of transatlantic relationships will be increasingly determined by these largely extra-European problems.

2. How American preoccupations have changed direction: the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the threat of Islamic terrorism

The two major strategic events of the post-Cold War period, the Gulf Wars and the September 11, 2001 attacks, were instrumental in bringing about a change of direction in American strategy. Today, America’s organisational and strategic choices are determined on the one hand by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, and on the other by international Islamic terrorism. In this new perspective, Europe is no longer a priority – the Middle East and Central and Southern Asia are now much more strategically significant.

As pointed out by Mr. Bruno Tertrais, senior fellow at the Foundation for Strategic Research, the Middle East contains the vast majority of strategic problems considered pre-eminent in terms of American security interests. In addition, it is the home of three of the four states identified as unstable by the US: Iraq, Iran, and Syria. The fourth is North Korea.

In a wider context, from an American perspective, international stability now hinges on Asia.  The Asian continent brings together a number of US security priorities:

– First, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Indeed, the Asian continent offers an unprecedented scenario with the co-existence of China, an official nuclear state, recognised by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), currently engaged in upgrading its arsenal, two de facto nuclear States, India and Pakistan, who have not signed the NPT, North Korea, an openly nuclear State which claims to have withdrawn from the NPT, and Iran, where there are a number of indications that they are seeking to obtain atomic weapons. A real nuclear arc is taking shape in the region, complicated by the fact that India and Pakistan and India and China are involved in border conflicts.

– Next, international terrorism

Let us not forget that the Al Qaida network originated in Asia.  If the Afghanistan operations of October 2001 ended the protection afforded to this terrorist network by the Taliban regime, the Asian continent still gives shelter to many terrorist groups linked to Al Qaida, including its founder. The Philippines, Indonesia and Pakistan are particularly implicated.

– The Taiwan question.

Taiwan remains a crucial issue for the United States, especially in the American Congress where Taiwanese interests are very well represented. The recent transatlantic debate on the plan to lift the European Union embargo on arms sales to China was a reminder, if one were necessary, of the importance of the Taiwanese question in the United States.

3. The Chinese question

Crucially, US interest in Asia hinges on the presence there of the one country capable of setting itself up as a rival to the United States in the long term – will it become a strategic rival, possibly even anti-American, or an economic power transformed into a giant version of Hong Kong by international investment? – this is a compelling question.

The China threat, which faded away at the end of the 1950’s, re-emerged in the mid-1990’s and was then relegated to the background following the events of September 11, 2001. We are currently witnessing a diversification of the links between the United States and China:

– strategically, China stands out as the key Asian partner in issues that the United States considers urgent, particularly in the negotiations on ending North Korea’s nuclear programme. Moreover, the September 11, 2001 attacks have brought about a rapprochement in Sino-American relations as the two seek ways to combat terrorism: a dialogue on counter-terrorism has been entered into, and China has spared no efforts to help with the reconstruction of Afghanistan;

– in the field of economics, if Sino-American trade is still well below  transatlantic levels(2), it is nevertheless increasing and becoming more complex, particularly since China joined the World Trade Organisation in 2001.  China is today the United States’ main partner for trading in manufactured goods and is responsible for 25% of the US commercial deficit (2003 figures). It was this finding that triggered American requests to revalue the yen, leading, in July 2005, to a modest rise of 2% in the Chinese currency.

B. – Towards a common goal for the West

1. American ambiguities

During the Cold War, the United States, acting within the framework of the Atlantic Pact, actively supported the construction of Europe. To an extent it could even be said that the establishment of the European Economic Community was born of the Atlantic Alliance; in the fields of commerce and finance, American support was linked to the emergence of a strong and united Europe to help fend off the Soviet menace. Thus economic and strategic considerations worked together to forge a benevolent attitude in the United States towards the construction of Europe, especially as the Europeans, by handing over responsibility for their defence to NATO, accepted this unbalanced relationship.

The 1990’s marked a turning point in the American stance – with the disappearance of their common enemy, America became more ambivalent in its attitude to the process of European unification. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany gave renewed momentum to the construction of Europe, investing it with a deeper meaning as well as extending it. Chancellor Kohl lent his support to France’s proposal for an Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) on the Economic and Monetary Union, which led in time to the creation of a single currency, to which he succeeded in adding a political union to create a true European Union. This opened the way to extending European construction to areas that had long been off limits: foreign policy and defence, areas tainted by the failure of the European Defence Community in 1954 and then of the Fouchet plan in 1963.

It was against this background that the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) was born in 1992, under the terms of the Maastricht treaty. It was severely tested by the Balkan crisis in the 1990’s and was instrumental in alerting Europeans to the futility of having a common foreign policy in the absence of any common defence initiative. This realisation led to the Franco-British summit in Saint-Malo in 1998, which saw the launch of a European security and defence policy backed by proper operational resources.

The planned European Constitutional Treaty was the most recent stage in the increasing power of a politically united Europe; the refusal of France and of the Netherlands will certainly hold back European construction for a time. Moreover, the speed of the enlargement process throws into doubt the prospect of the emergence of a political Europe. Be that as it may, this remains the objective of a number of European countries, including France.

While it is undeniable that the United States never deliberately set out to divide Europe, it is equally true that the American position on European construction has changed due to the developments that have just been described. Just as, during the Cold War, it was in America’s interests to encourage European integration, today those interests seem less clear. The truth is that the United States cannot decide on its position on Europe : should it foster European disunity and disagreements (1) or lend its support to a stronger, and therefore more structured Europe? (2)

(1) America needs a united Europe to act as a stabilising influence, but will not accept a Europe that presents a realistic challenge to its power.  This is the traditional view of transatlantic relations, a view currently held by most of the American political establishment. There is here a surprising paradox: the same people who are currently urging that traditional Cold War structures be replaced by new ideas – preventive war, ad hoc coalitions -, are those who, today in Washington, cling to a pattern of transatlantic relations directly derived from the era of East-West confrontation, that is, an alliance with a Europe that is economically strong but politically weak and divided, dependent in military terms. Within this perspective, European economic power could never lead to the emergence of a political entity which might realistically compete with the United States, while the acquisition of autonomous military capacity would allow it to become strategically independent.

In this mindset the idea of a European focus is unacceptable, as it is essentially incompatible with the American quest for leadership – an aim not to be confused with empire-building or domination.

There is implacable opposition to the concept of a European focus, for the idea of a partner who would decide its own strategic priorities and act accordingly is not acceptable in this traditional perspective.

Consequently, any European defence developments are regarded, if not with outright hostility, at least with suspicion: the only acceptable advances are those which take place in the context of strengthening the Atlantic Alliance, with anything that exclusively serves the interests of European security and defence policies being considered as tainted with ingratitude or futility. The Atlantic Alliance is in fact considered to be the “natural” forum for transatlantic political dialogue. It follows from this that the United States are much more inclined to bring up international security issues within the context of NATO than within European institutions. The American attitude to the Atlantic Alliance is indeed pervaded by this notion of leadership: if the United States feels so much at home within this context, it is because NATO is the very embodiment of this idea. Within a perspective of preserving American superiority and prioritising American interests, NATO functions as a centre in which American policy can be legitimised and its influence increased: America the all-powerful carries out its NATO negotiations from a position of strength, dealing with each European country on a one-to-one, therefore unbalanced, basis.

(2) There is in the United States another view of transatlantic relations apart from this traditional one – a more pragmatic approach to relations between Europe and the United States, which takes the view that within the strategic context of the 21st century, if the US genuinely wants Europe to be a strong ally, then Europe should be more than an economic giant, but also a structured political entity. The supporters of this argument – who are, it must be confessed, in the minority, understand that, given the level of economic integration achieved by the countries of Europe, any future progress in European construction will be of a political nature. They are realistic enough to reflect that it is somewhat outmoded for 298 million Americans to guarantee the security of 483 million Europeans (3) . They know that, within the logic of increased European integration, the European Union will become the preferred centre for transatlantic dialogue, to the detriment of NATO: this means a new dialogue between two equally large and powerful entities – at least in terms of population and the economy. This is a far cry from the unbalanced exchanges within NATO, where the United States is the de facto first among equals.

In a way, the neo-conservatives, so roundly denounced in Europe, come into this category: what criticisms can they level at Venus-like Europe, if not to say that it is insufficiently powerful to help the United States fulfil their foreign policy objectives? They maintain that it was American protection of Europe during the Cold War that allowed European construction to progress, by prioritising economic development and the establishment of a highly protective social model; today they accuse Europe of clinging to this blueprint, of prioritising the social model but neglecting to take over where the US left off in terms of their own security, and of failing to support the United States in its efforts to confront unrest throughout the world.

The US administration is today marked by these two approaches, as shown by each visit of the American President to Europe. He automatically visits both NATO and the institutions of the European Union. Against this background however, NATO will probably remain the focus of transatlantic debate.  This reluctance on the part of the United States to engage with the European Union can doubtless be explained by the complex structures of dialogue between the two parties. There are in fact three levels of dialogue :

– an annual summit bringing together the President of the United States, the President of the European Union and the President of the Commission (joined by leading figures from US trade, the Presidential office and the Commission);

– biannual consultations between the Commission and the American administration, backed up by numerous informal contacts, particularly on the periphery of major international meetings (G7, WTO, IMF, World Bank);

– various working groups which have evolved within the context of the new transatlantic agenda established in 1995.

The deliberate choice, on the part of the United States, to favour bilateral relations with member States of the European Union is not consistent with the objectives of American foreign policy.  The United States cannot demand a coordinated response to the challenges of our time while simultaneously favouring a blueprint for a relationship with Europe as outmoded as it is unwieldy, and moreover potentially ineffective. If the United States still seeks co-ordination with its allies, rather than European fragmentation in the name of a philosophy of an “à la carte” coalition, one strong Europe is worth more than 25 separate States.  Obviously the question of building a political dialogue between the European Union and the United States is a crucial one today.

2. European contradictions

Should Europe be an effective ally, that is to say, better organised but conceivably in disagreement with the United States, or an unconditional ally, automatically putting support of the US above all other considerations, including its own interests? We have already seen that the United States is not quite ready to answer that question. The same goes for the Europeans, which explains in part the current crisis within Europe: the European debate on transatlantic relations is closely linked to the debate on the identity of the Europe we are in the process of building. Indeed the transatlantic partnership was the glue that held together the construction of Europe during the Cold War. Now that we have an alliance of choice rather than of necessity, what is the link between European construction and the transatlantic bond? Should this bond remain one of the pillars of the construction of Europe, which would imply a particular European structure, with a pre-eminent role for NATO and therefore a limited autonomy in political decision-making for Europe ? Is it already a divisive force, as we have seen in Iraq, where certain members of the Union put the transatlantic partnership above European solidarity? Is it possible to build an effective Union that lacks political or strategic autonomy? Asking this question leads us to speculate about the relationship we wish to establish with this ally who, during the Cold War, had replied in the affirmative to this question, in full agreement with the Europeans.

The Iraq crisis has effectively illuminated this question of identity: should we give primacy to solidarity between European states or to the bilateral relationship each one of them has with the United States? It exposed the fragilities that certain people have not hesitated to over-simplify – consider, for example, Mr Rumsfeld’s momentous slogan on “old Europe” and “new Europe”. When one analyses these fragilities, however, they are more complex than they appear.

Commentators in France routinely denounce, openly or in veiled terms, the pro-Alliance stance of new member States from the former Soviet bloc. It is undeniable that these states have prioritised their relationship with the United States, whether in speeches, through diplomatic channels, or in their choice of military equipment.  It would nevertheless be both inaccurate and unhelpful to explain their preference for the Alliance as the result of a partisan and non-negotiable ideological stance: to imply that after enduring the rigours of the Soviet regime, they would gladly embrace capitalism and ultra-liberalism, would be a caricature of the truth.

To be content with such a simplistic analysis is to deny that these countries were politically rational enough to make their foreign policy choices in pursuance of their own interests. The high value that they place on their relations with the United States, which can be measured for example by their attachment to NATO, is the result of a dual analysis:

– Firstly, historic : no-one would dispute that their experiences throughout the 20th century have made them mistrustful of exclusively European alliances and exchanges.  Along with their Eastern neighbours, and indeed their Western ones, these relationships cost them their independence, their identity and their right to free expression.

– Their choice also rests crucially on a contemporary geo-strategic analysis: the European Union, and in particular the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) is in no position to offer them the guarantees on security that they have a right to request.

Their attachment to the United States, that is to say to American protection, is legitimate when one considers their history; however, this is not necessarily a permanent fixture of their political future. The commission noted during its visit to NATO in Brussels that the Iraqi experience of these countries, like their first steps in the European Union, led them to question certain hopes and preconceived ideas that they may have held about both entities. They are beginning to discover the price of loyalty, as well as to gauge to what extent membership of the European Union can reduce their influence.  Poland in particular, which was involved in Iraq as well as being highly active during the crisis in the Ukraine in December 2004, has experienced at first hand both NATO and European solidarities. The Polish NATO representative spoke candidly to the commission about how his country was discovering the limits of the first and the advantages of the second. 

Even though there is still work to be done, the clash of the “old” and of the “new” Europe should not be overstated: as new members become accustomed to the European institutions, the old divisions and prejudices should become blurred, on condition, of course, that we long-standing Member States, but also we French, abandon our own prejudices.

Moreover, the contradictions within Europe on what position to adopt with regard to the United States, for from being merely a two-sided rift within the Union, are common in most European countries:

– Great Britain, a faithful ally of the United States, saw the largest demonstrations against American intervention in Iraq, underpinned by public opinion largely hostile to American foreign policy.  Let us remember too that Great Britain is one of the instigators and pillars of the European Security and Defence Policy.

An even more acute symptom of these contradictions is the position of Germany, who for several years has been working on a large-scale, though low-key project to redefine its transatlantic policy. In February 2005, Chancellor Schroeder spoke at an annual meeting of European and American leaders and experts, convened in Munich to discuss strategic issues, and his speech revealed both the extent and the radicalism of German self-questioning. It was the first time that a German leader had publicly declared that NATO is no longer the preferred venue for transatlantic debate: the German authorities, however, subsequently beat a retreat and failed to translate their words into actions, as many leading German players, particularly in the foreign affairs and defence ministries, still feel a powerful attraction to the Atlantic Alliance.

In reality, Germany remains what it has always been in the scheme of transatlantic relations: a pillar of NATO, highly visible in logistic and material terms, but with a history of discretion in political debates. The fact remains that, even if the Chancellor’s speech of February 2005 was just testing the water and produced no concrete results, Germany’s doubts go very deep: Chancellor Schroeder’s “discreetly anti-American” conviction, as reported by Der Spiegel on the occasion of President Bush’s visit of February 2005, reflects the fact that the German public feels a growing sense of disquiet towards the United States - a fundamental trend that is not easily reversible.  Whatever political developments may ensue in Germany, they will not avert this slow re-positioning of the country, a consequence of the fall of the Berlin Wall and of reunification, which has taken it from the most traditional pro-Atlantic Alliance position to a growing affirmation of its commitment to Europe.

– The examples of Spain and Italy are equally interesting, because they are a clear illustration that the attitude to America in these countries is closely linked to internal political developments. Under José María Aznar, Spain placed its relationship with the United States at the top of the scale of foreign policy priorities; after the attacks of 11 March 2004 and the election of a new government, there was a seismic shift in policy.  The same can be said of Italy, which is currently pursuing a highly pro-Atlantic Alliance policy.

In all, while there is undoubtedly a European consensus in many areas – the fight against terrorism, the International Criminal Tribunal, non-proliferation, the emergence of China, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, not to mention the existence of the “Kyoto people”, which brings together Europeans and Russians -, it is equally true that the relationship each European Union Member State has with the United States is anything but neutral. There is nothing automatic about European solidarity: on the issues which might lead to differences of opinion with the United States, it is virtually impossible that Europeans might rally around a common position.  The recent controversy on the lifting of the embargo on arms sales to China by the European Union, on which France and Great Britain spontaneously agreed, acted as a reminder of the fear still engendered by a threat of reprisals from the United States. The British Presidency therefore abandoned the project.

For the moment, the contradictions of Europe are stronger than the desire for co-ordination, which is a problem for the transatlantic relationship itself. All the prominent people heard by the commission emphasised this: there can be no improvement in relations between the European Union and the United States until there is some unity of European perspectives. Just as, when the only watchword was an unwavering solidarity, the Cold War model was effective, now when we discuss defence, the economy, commercial relations, monetary or environmental issues, etc, a policy, that is to say, a set of objectives within a structured and coherent discourse, should be established.

The necessity for such a structure is all the more pressing given that the United States, in pursuit of their vision of international politics, are today asking some burning questions. For example, when the United States launch a debate on the democratisation of the Arab-Islamist world, such questions cannot be dismissed as adventurism. Certainly, its undoubted power makes them less likely to accept established situations and more inclined to act as the Pygmalion of international relations, especially as this power rests on a messianic tradition that is an integral part of the American psyche. However this finding does not excuse European passivity nor failure to respond, especially as several European countries, notably France which has the highest number of French citizens and residents of the Islamic faith in Europe, have launched a national debate on the subject, asking questions on the link between Islam and its own democratic model, which happens to be the republican model. It is plain that for a subject so sensitive, and so crucial to the future of many countries, some of them among our closest allies, the European Union must engage fully with the issue, and not let the Atlantic Alliance, a military instrument, have exclusive rights to the debate.

Many subjects of interest to both Europe and the United States go far beyond the context of the Atlantic Alliance and are so important that they require, on the European side, a unity of views, that is to say the involvement of the European Union. This is the core of the debate launched by the German Chancellor in February 2005 on what would be the most suitable forum for transatlantic discussions. The current attempts by the NATO Secretary General, responding to the German statement, to reform the process of dialogue within NATO, only serves to strengthen the German position.

3. The Atlantic Alliance, symbol of these ambiguities and contradictions

Transatlantic security relationships have three outstanding features:

– the disconnection between defence of America’s vital interests and NATO intervention;

– the rise of extra-European dangers and threats;

– the European demonstration of their ability to make the ESDP work in European and non-European theatres, in some cases using NATO resources.

Symbol and pillar of the Cold War transatlantic agreement, the Atlantic Alliance is primarily concerned with this new state of affairs and obviously bears the brunt of these tectonic movements – tectonic because slow and inevitable, though marked by crises and accelerations – at work as the agreement is redefined. In it are concentrated all the various American and European ambiguities and contradictions, to the extent that it is very difficult today to define the precise nature and role of this Alliance. This is hardly news: if the history of the Alliance is mainly the history of its crises(4), it is also a history of contradictions and ambiguities. These are in fact an integral part of its identity, for it has always been defined by asymmetry and imbalance.

In fulfilling the agreement set for it, the Atlantic Alliance found itself, at the end of the Cold War, faced with the question of its raison d’être. The adoption of a new strategic concept in 1999, at the Washington summit, and the current reform of its structure and its intervention methods are supposed to have supplied an answer to the question of the Alliance’s role.


The NATO Strategic Concept is the official statement of the Alliance’s aims and supplies, at the highest level, advice on the political and military means of achieving them. Four concepts have been adopted since the Alliance was founded: in 1949-1950, in 1967, in 1991 and in 1999.

At the Washington summit, in 1999, the NATO countries effectively approved a new Strategic Concept destined to allow the Alliance to respond to problems of security and to eventualities which might arise in the 21st century, as well as to guide its future political and military development.

The updated Strategic Concept offers general directives for drawing up policies and detailed military plans. It describes the purpose and the duties of the Alliance and examines its strategic perspectives in the light of the evolving strategic environment, as well as risks and challenges in the area of security. Presenting the Alliance’s approach to security in the 21st century, the Concept reaffirms the importance of the transatlantic link and of the maintenance of the Alliance’s military capabilities, and examines the role of other essential elements in its overall approach to security and stability, namely the European security and defence identity, conflict prevention and management of crises, the Partnership, co-operation and dialogue, enlargement, arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. Finally, the concept provides indications of future directions for the forces of the Alliance, founded on the principles of Alliance strategy and its military apparatus. The last section deals with missions of the Alliance’s military forces and with future directions for these, as well as features of conventional and nuclear forces.

However, the commission does not share this view and after hearing the main French leaders speak on the subject, as well as visiting NATO headquarters in Brussels, has been struck by the complete confusion reigning in this regard.

It has not received a satisfactory response to the one question that really counts: what is the nature of NATO today? Is it destined to do, in Afghanistan, Kosovo, and Bosnia, what the UN did in Namibia, Cambodia or Mozambique, that is, to act as military back-up after the conflict? Is it a pool of men and equipment for the use of ad hoc coalitions established by the United States ? An instrument of support and political legitimacy for the benefit of the United States ? A vehicle for the modernisation of European defence forces ? How can NATO remain effective if it has to intervene in the theatres of the “South”, while preserving its treaty role as defender of Europe?

In short, since the end of the Cold War, the fundamental debate on NATO’s raison d’être has been replaced by multiple debates on the reform of its structures or its geographical limits. The question remains, however, in a context in which two diametrically opposed visions of NATO’s role are pitted against each other:

– a traditional vision, which makes the Alliance a military instrument for the defence of Europe against external threats or against the danger of internal destabilisation within the continent of Europe;

– an innovative vision, which sees in NATO a security apparatus in the service of the democratic Western world, with military, political and diplomatic capabilities, and intervening throughout the world, according to the foreign policy priorities of its members.

It is difficult today to determine which of these concepts will prevail, given that the various NATO members have such widely divergent visions of the Alliance. Without exaggeration, NATO in 2005 is an unidentified strategic instrument.

Let us admit that the American position on NATO does nothing to dispel the current confusion. The expression “American position” is in any case largely inaccurate, since there are today in the United States not one but three separate policies on NATO: the State Department is focused on the political dimension of the Atlantic Alliance, with NATO acting as an authority for the legitimisation of actions outside the United States; then there is the view of the American integrated military structure, which seeks to preserve the operational link between American and European forces, and concentrates on reforms intended to make NATO into a functional military instrument, whatever its missions might be; finally, the Pentagon regards NATO  as just another tool in the service of American policy.

In one way, the Pentagon’s position is the clearest, summed up in the American Defence Secretary’s already quoted phrase, according to which “the mission makes the coalition”.

According to this notion, NATO’s collective defence mission is obsolete: when it was considering its response to the September 11, 2001 attacks, which had been prepared in Afghanistan, the Pentagon never once seriously considered the option of a NATO intervention based on the activation of article 5 as proposed by the European allies. NATO is now used mainly in peacekeeping missions when the Pentagon wants to avoid mobilising too many American troops. Moreover this was the ministerial department which pressed for a disengagement of American troops in Europe and a reduction in the number of troops in the Balkans.

In this perspective, the objective is no longer even interoperability but at best complementarity of American and European forces, the latter being seen in any case as insufficient in number. This is why only 8% of American forces can be assigned to NATO missions, a figure which after the current restructuring process, could fall to 3%. In this perspective, the Alliance is just a kind of military “Windows”, that is, it functions like a computer program to facilitate the functioning of the American and European armies on the limited occasions when they would be called upon to act together.

Be that as it may, NATO is in the eyes of the US a useful but peripheral instrument. Today NATO is less important in military terms for the United States than for France – while in political terms the reverse is true: the first uses this channel in a very limited way militarily, to the extent that even in Afghanistan where there is a NATO presence, they maintain the ad hoc operation Enduring Freedom – which they would like to merge with the NATO operation; France for her part has many troops under NATO command, whether in Kosovo or in Afghanistan. The NATO military authorities who spoke to the commission in Brussels admitted that the interoperability(5) of Alliance American forces with European forces was in decline and that their complementarity, a term more appropriate to the current situation, was also reduced. This is an astonishing statement, which speaks volumes on the depth of the difference of opinion between Europeans, whose most pressing question is how to maintain the United States’ commitment to Europe, and Americans, who are concentrating their efforts largely on extra-European matters…

As with the United States, it is difficult to pin down the unity of German policy on NATO. As pointed out earlier, two tendencies co-exist in Germany, even if the only official policy remains the traditional pro-Alliance line.  Represented, for example by the transatlantic relations coordinator and the NATO permanent representation, this policy, a legacy of the Cold War, sees the imbalance between Europeans and Americans in NATO as permanent and intrinsic to the very nature of the Alliance. So, lacking a serious alternative capable of fulfilling the function of collective defence of the Alliance, the traditional transatlantic link should be preserved whatever the cost, even if that cost is European subordination.

The United Kingdom, together with the new member States, is undoubtedly the partner with the clearest vision on NATO. Its vision is characteristically pragmatic : as the Atlantic Alliance is the most dependable method of maintaining the link between Europe and the United States, it should be maintained and even strengthened, whatever its mission. The British consider moreover that the issue of NATO missions is secondary, focusing instead on the political role of the Alliance: they emphasise the permanent nature of the centre for dialogue and for transatlantic political consultations, unlike the dialogue between the European Union and the United States, which only happens when the two entities hold a summit. By this reasoning, the indisputable British support for the ESDP should not be interpreted as an ambiguous element of the British position, even if, to persuade their American allies to accept the ESDP, the British used very subtle arguments, carefully judged according to whether they were dealing with the French or the Americans. According to the British perspective, the ESDP has one purpose: to strengthen NATO, so as to satisfy the American desire for a functioning and effective military instrument.

As for the new member States, far from reflecting on the interest of military operations outside the Alliance’s sphere of influence(6) , which is known as the “out-zone”, and on the politicisation of the Alliance, they want to see in it the traditional instrument of Alliance collective defence. If they take part in other Alliance missions and even support the United States in ad hoc coalitions which marginalise the Alliance, it is only to prove that they are model allies, in the hope that should their security, even their very existence, be threatened, the lessons of the past will not be repeated.

What, finally, can be said about France’s position on the Alliance? It must be acknowledged that France is not necessarily keen to dispel the uncertainties that plague the Alliance. In her defence, however, we can say that this ambiguity is voluntary and that France takes full responsibility for it. In fact there is an extraordinary discrepancy between the French stated position on the Alliance and the reality of its action:

– The French position remains as it was in 1966, when General de Gaulle decided that France would leave the integrated military structure. Fervent defender and activist of the ESDP, France cultivates its special place within the Alliance, making sure that all topics raised there are carefully examined so that priority is given to our foreign policy in general, and our European policy in particular: suspicion of the “out-zone”, refusal to establish the Alliance, whether in the long or medium term, as a favoured centre of transatlantic dialogue on major security matters, refusal of any decision which might a priori restrict the ESDP’s room for manoeuvre, now and in the future.

– In practice however, France is both highly active and highly visible within the Alliance, in all fields: political, operational, military and administrative.

With more than 4000 men in the service of NATO, whether in Bosnia, where the European Union has virtually taken over from NATO since December 2004, in Kosovo, in Afghanistan, or within the Rapid Reaction Force, France is the second largest contributor to NATO forces.

In financial terms, France provides 14.78% of the civil budget and 13.85% of the military budget, which makes it the fourth largest contributor in the Alliance. Moreover, through its high level of involvement in the Rapid Response Force (NRF), France now participates in the operating budget of certain Chiefs of Staff and entities of the integrated military structure.

In addition, France has a presence in the Alliance command structure, and it is actively participating in its current reform. The former NATO command structure was based on a geographic distribution of responsibilities: one command for allied forces in Europe (SACEUR, in Mons, Belgium) and an Atlantic command (SACLANT, in Norfolk, United States).  The new structure, approved at the Prague summit of 21 and 22 November 2002, is based on a functional distribution: an operational command (SACO, in Mons), responsible for all Alliance operations: and a functional command (SACT, in Norfolk) responsible for the transformation of NATO.

Strictly speaking, France is not involved in the command structure.  Until 2004, however, it had about 50 soldiers “embedded” in this structure because of its participation in Alliance operations. Immediately afterwards and in accordance with the Prague summit, to enhance its participation in the transformation of NATO, France decided to strengthen its position by assigning another fifty soldiers to the new structure :

– firstly, to the Allied Command Operations (ACO), for posts linked to the NRF(7) ;

– for posts linked to the reform of doctrines and the training of Alliance forces, to the Allied Command Transformation (ACT).

In addition, in May 2004, France assigned a general officer to each of these two commands.

There will therefore be a total of roughly one hundred French soldiers “embedded” in the command structure. For purposes of comparison, the command structure comprises almost 12,000 soldiers, of whom the United States supplies 2,800, Germany 2,500 and Italy 1,200.

So while it is a fact that France has not changed its specific position, in the sense that it retains control of its forces’ engagement, including the Response Force, and that its participation in what was, before the reform of the command, an integrated military structure, is not complete, it must be stated that it is highly visible in NATO’s military structure, and in positions of importance - command positions linked to the NRF. The creation, in October 2005, of the Rapid Reaction Force-France Headquarters (QG CRR-FR) speaks of France’s involvement in the NRF, and thus in a broader sense, of her role in the Alliance, as the NRF is destined to become the allies’ principal instrument of intervention. Today, France’s only notable absence is in the planning entities – the Defence Planning Committee and the Nuclear Planning Group.




While the history of transatlantic relations has been subject to frequent crises, it is however the first time that tension between a part of Europe and the United States, over the debate on intervention in Iraq, has led to a questioning of the validity of the community of values between the two partners. On both sides of the Atlantic, the idea has taken root of a deep division between peoples, going far beyond personal differences between the American President and some of his European partners.

It is appropriate here to leave clichés and polemics behind and to concentrate on realities. These lead us to much more nuanced conclusions, certainly revealing major differences in sensibility between Europeans and Americans, but equally, in day-to-day relations, illuminating a partnership which has never been as strong in the history of transatlantic relations, made up of a complex web of connections.  A partnership which, whatever happens, has no equivalent elsewhere in the world and remains, even in a context of diverse and multiple threats, necessary for international security and stability.

A. – Do Europeans and Americans still share the same values ?

Do the United States and Europe now belong to two different worlds ? The debate on the transatlantic link sometimes comes adrift on a debate relating to the survival of the community of values between the two continents: history, geography, culture and economy are used to evoke a pessimistic vision of two societies with radically different concerns and perspectives.

1. The existence of specifically American values

If these rather excessive comments conceal either profound mutual ignorance or an ideological bias useful for internal politics, their success is nevertheless easily explained. They are based on a truth that the sacred union against a common enemy during the Cold War, under the unifying banner of “Western world” has made us forget: the United States is not an American extension of Europe, but a nation with a clear identity of its own. There is nothing new here: both the history and the geography of the United States have forged a body of values which belong only to them. The primacy of the individual, suspicion of any intervention by the federal State but visceral attachment to the Nation, the acceptance of the use of force, the messianic ethos of a nation which sees itself as a new promised land, the high level of religious practice, etc.: no need to emphasise how, in a Europe which values social cohesion and the role of the State, which is terrified of nationalism, and allergic to the use of armed force, American values are perceived as radically alien. Once again we realise that the geo-strategic position of the United States, more insular and distant, tends to favour a culture of long-distance intervention and a more unilateral style – let us note however that this geographical factor is not in itself sufficient to explain the American attitude, as the contrasting example of Canada shows; by contrast too, European Union countries have developed a culture of engagement, linked to the proximity of the problems they have to deal with, and a multilateral style.  This explains why we are again faced with stereotypes of the order of “European appeasement versus American force”.

These differences are obviously not new, indeed, they are fundamental to the American identity. However, what is new is how keenly these differences, masked to some extent during the Cold War, are felt. The undeniable fact is that whatever the differences of identity between Europeans and Americans, they have been exacerbated by recent developments on both sides of the Atlantic.

At the risk of stating the obvious, the United States has changed. There is a structural phenomenon at work here: the United States is less interested in Europe because Europe is increasingly absent from the mental landscape of Americans.

The demographic factor

Demographic changes in the United States have a key role to play in this respect. The section of the American population that originates from Europe is constantly falling. A profound change is taking place in American society, one that has prompted much soul-searching in the United States itself. In a recent work, Professor Samuel Huntington asks Who are we?(8), a sometimes provocative analysis of the end of the domination of traditional Anglo-Saxon protestant values in the United States. Logically, the fact that Europe is no longer the focus of special attention there stems from the continuing growth of the non-European section of the population.

The United States today continues its long tradition of welcoming immigrants, taking in more than any other country; since the 1970’s, the United States has experienced an unprecedented wave of immigration, exceeding even that at the start of the twentieth century. In 2005, 32.5 million American residents were born abroad, that is 11.5 % of the total population. Only a small proportion of these immigrants are European – the population of the United States is more strikingly racially diverse than ever. In recent years, Latin Americans and racial minority groups (that is, racial and ethnic groups which make up less than 50% of the population, including non-Hispanic coloureds, Asians and Native Americans) have shown a demographic growth above that of the total population. In 1970, these groups together represented a mere 16% of the population. In 1998, their share had reached 27%. Working on the hypothesis that these tendencies are set to continue, the Federal Census Bureau predicts that by 2050 they will account for almost half of the population of the United States: the Hispanic population should reach 103 million – one quarter of the population - in 2050, the African-American population 61 million, and the Asian population 33 million.

Although they are by definition imprecise, these projections indicate that the United States will experience a significant increase in racial and ethnic diversity during this century.

In 2004, the ten countries with the highest number of legal immigrants (946,142 in total) were: Mexico with 175,364, India (70,116), the Philippines (57,827), China (51,156), Vietnam (31,514), Dominican Republic (30,492), El Salvador (29,795), Cuba (20,488), Korea (19,766), and Colombia (18,678). Compared with the 127,669 European immigrants to American soil in that same year, these figures are highly significant.

The growth in the number of Asian and Latin American immigrants noted during recent decades is in essence due to a change in immigration policy. In particular, the law of 1965 ended the system of quotas based on national origin, which restricted immigration from non-European countries.  Similarly, the law of 1986 relating to the reform and control of immigration contributed to the increase in the number of Asian and Latin American immigrants, because many illegals took advantage of the new measures to have their papers put in order. It should be mentioned here that numbers of illegal immigrants, estimated at 3.5 million in 1990, are today thought to be 9.3 million, two thirds of whom are of Mexican origin. The rise of these ethnic groups is further strengthened by falling fertility levels in all non-Latin American sectors of the population. Consequently, the number of white people not of Latin American origin has been falling since 1970, while the number of African-Americans has risen only slightly(9).

If the demographic variable will probably strongly influence the development of transatlantic relations – in this case as a factor contributing to alienation – this also stems from the fact that the American centre of gravity has moved towards the West and the South. It is these States that stand to gain the most from demographic growth: in 2030 they will make up 65% of the population of America, compared with 59% today. The personal journey of President George W. Bush himself, a Texan by adoption from a New England family, is indicative of this change.


Post September 11, 2001 – changes in America

This change did not become apparent in the post-Cold War period, due to continuing security problems in Europe. The reality of these findings hits home today. They were revealed by the attacks of September 11, 2001, which reinvigorated traditional American values, especially as the Republican Party had been in power since its victory in the legislative elections of 1994.

We must be clear about the timing of this: the changes were already taking place before September 11, as already, since the Clinton era, multilateral treaties were being challenged, (rejection of the ban on nuclear testing treaty, constant attacks on the ABM Treaty….), and American national interests were being prioritised, sometimes to the extent of challenging basic principles of international law. It was also before the September 11 attacks that the ideas promoted by neo-conservatives, whose origins can be traced to a reaction against the egalitarian and anti-establishment culture of 1960’s America, became seriously influential in the world of American politics. Moreover, in 1996, the neo-conservative movement had published its manifesto, which includes some major preoccupations since the year 2000 – refusal to accept a decline in American power, upgrading of the military instrument, promotion of a benevolent American hegemony.

It would therefore seem that the tragic events of September 11 acted as a catalyst, not awakening these values but mobilising them(10).

September 11 did not invent American patriotism: there has always been a significant reserve of patriotism and nationalism in the United States, and September 11 and the preparation for intervention in Iraq acted to focus and intensify these sentiments. This was a process that gave rise to some strange alliances in the American political landscape, as a second result of September 11 had been to unite diverse political movements around these traditional values. To take the most revealing example, the alliance between neo-conservatives – who were mostly far-left intellectuals – and Christian fundamentalists – to the right of the Republican party, with occasional hints of anti-Semitism – was very far from being natural.

This rallying around traditional American values can in reality be analysed not as a change, but a return to the source. Unilateralism is a long-established tradition in America, and the period of history stretching from Roosevelt to the end of the Cold War can be seen, in the long term, as a mere parenthesis in American history.  To an extent, what is happening at the moment is that Europe is re-discovering the real America.  It is important to understand this, so that we can avoid any vague desire to pursue the completely unattainable objective of a return to the atmosphere of the 1950’s. “You are dealing with the last generation of Americans who have a sentimental approach to Europe” Kissinger told the Europeans in the 1970’s. Recent years have underlined how prescient his little joke was.

The specific nature of American identity stands out even more, given that Europe was also changing at the same time. So, while the 1990’s was marked by a great ideological renaissance in the United States, in Europe it will be remembered as marking a major withdrawal from ideological debates and the progressive, even laborious acquisition of a fully European political consciousness. Similarly, at the very moment when the United States, having suffered an attack on their own soil, re-affirmed their sovereignty, even at the risk of clashing with the rules of international law, Europe since the Maastricht treaty entered a “post-Sovereign” era. There is no doubt that these contrasting developments will tend to favour, on the European side, a more acute perception of the changes at work in the United States.

2. Fundamental values : a fellowship of ideas

Although differences between American and European sensibilities remain significant and unchanging, they do not call into question the fellowship of ideas unequalled elsewhere in the world, a fellowship uniting them on fundamental issues. We should point this out more often: North America – the United States and Canada – and Europe are the only places in the world that have the same approach to the universal values of respect for fundamental human rights and the principle of a social structure based on democracy, rather than on a theocracy or a dictatorship. Certainly the United States has its own specific legal system, but no one could dispute the fact that Europeans and Americans share the conviction that the only legitimate source of power lies in the people or their representatives – a conviction and a practice not exactly widespread in the world. The data gleaned from the most recent survey carried out by the German Marshall Fund are encouraging : 74% of Europeans feel that the European Union should help to establish democracy in other countries; 51% of Americans are of the same opinion about their own country, a figure which rises to 76% among Republican supporters. Similarly, regarding basic human rights, there is a profound consensus.

Recent debates on the fellowship of transatlantic values have also focused on the subject of religion, echoing the biblical rhetoric often used by the President of the United States. Here again, we should not give much credence to the frequently prejudiced analyses on the place of religion in the United States. There is absolutely no doubt that Americans are deeply religious and that religion looms large in the United States, including in public life. We French should however be careful to remember that our own views on the place of religion in society, informed by the principle of secularism, are quite unique to us. In this matter it is we who are the exceptions, even within Europe. Moreover, the relationship between Americans and religion is more complex than some commentators allow. Also, how many people are aware that, in the context of the French legal ban on religious symbols in schools, tolerated unless they are worn with an intention to proselytise, a judgment of the American Supreme Court strictly forbids all external religious symbols in the army?(11)

Similarly, despite the purely French debates on “ultra-liberalism”, France along with its European partners shares with the United States the same economic model – the market economy, based on freedom of trade and commerce.  On the world stage, the constant attacks on the UN in a section of the American political establishment will not make us forget that in Europe as in the United States, we consider it necessary to structure international life around principles and institutions which guarantee world stability and security.

Far removed from apocalyptic comments on the chasm separating European and American values, we cannot but be struck by the conclusion that we share a profound fellowship of ideas, borne out in many surveys. Is it necessary to point out that Europe and the United States are perceived as one entity in the rest of the world: in fact it is the shared values of democracy and the market economy that differentiate Europe and the United States from the rest of the world, for out of the 6.5 billion people on the planet, fewer than two billion benefit from these.  Even if people in Cairo or Buenos Aires know that American policy on the Middle East conflict or on development aid is different from European Union policy, the European-American fellowship of ideas on fundamental values is perceived as issuing from a common civilisation. It is these very values that the Al-Quaida network is attacking when its terrorists strike at New York, Madrid or London – for them, it is all the same enemy.

B. -The interests debate : a shared transatlantic destiny

United by shared fundamental values, Europeans and Americans also have in common many interests, as diverse as they are enduring, which together forge a real shared transatlantic destiny.

1. Common challenges and threats

Security threats – international terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the disintegration of the State in certain regions, organised crime – threats to health and the environment – climate change, pandemics -, new challenges – reforming the UN, democratisation, the emergence of China: there is a long list of topics featuring on today’s international agenda.

Europeans and Americans obviously need each other’s help to resolve the great international issues of the day. Some may object that the “super-superpower” of America, to borrow the phrase used by a former American ambassador to London, would be quite capable of buckling down to this task on its own. In this respect, the Iraq intervention, in which the United States, while not alone, did not have many of its long-term allies on board, shows the flaw in this view. The Iraq experience also showed that, however immense its power, the United States is unable to act effectively in the long term without the support of her European allies. Short-term success is not enough to deal with problems which require a certain legitimacy as well as a long-term commitment.

In this respect the widespread distaste for America is a real problem for them, in the sense that it diminishes their influence. This aversion remains significant: even in Turkey, a long-established ally of the United States, 50% of people questioned in a survey in June 2005 claimed to have a negative image of the United States, and for President George W. Bush, the figure rose to 71%.(12)

Even if this figure is closely linked to the war in Iraq and to the personal style of the American President, this result confirms that the US image has deteriorated in a country that has been their ally for decades.

2. Unequalled economic integration

The economic sphere has not escaped the apocalyptic conclusions on the absence of shared values on either side of the Atlantic.  One study published in October 2004(13) presented a depressing picture of Franco-American divisions in this area: it revealed that 39% of French people had a positive opinion of the concept of profit, as against 86% of Americans; in France, 40% of people wanted the State to guarantee an equitable distribution of wealth, against only 15% of Americans.

Here again, there is a gulf between what is said and thought on the one hand, and what is actually done on the other.

Europe and the United States as competitors

Economic relations between Europe and the United States are regularly marred by tensions, in three main areas :

– First of all, bitter disagreements persist on both sides of the Atlantic regarding the conduct of economic policies, with the Americans criticising the Central European Bank for its timidity and for the constraints that the Stability Pact would impose, while the Europeans in concert with the IMF are warning their partner about the dangers of budgetary slides and the extremely low level of domestic savings in the United States (0.4 % in 2004 !).

– Secondly, transatlantic trade negotiations remain fertile territory for confrontation, even if in Seattle, Doha, and again in Cancun, the combined efforts of the American and European commercial representatives have managed to avert a major crisis in current international trade negotiations. Genetically Modified Organisms, repayable advances for Airbus, American fiscal measures condemned by the World Trade Organisation as subsidies in disguise, one crisis follows another, revealing above all that in this field, Europe and America are two giants meeting on equal terms.

– The third difficulty is the deficit in America’s current balance sheet, and its potential consequences for the euro. Americans may roundly criticise the low rate of European growth, but the reality is that their own is financed by the reserves of poor countries. Today, the Chinese peasant finances the American deficit – that is, domestic American consumption or military expenditure – due to the frighteningly low level of American domestic reserves. The markets feel that this deficit is not sustainable and may cause a sharp rise in the euro, which, say the experts, could lead to a euro-dollar parity of 1.5 or 1.6.

The transatlantic economic relationship is clearly susceptible to numerous declared or potential conflicts.  In the months and years ahead, the litigation diary will remain full:

– A number of affairs are now at a pre-litigation stage or in the very early stages of the litigation process, and there should be developments in the coming months. One of these is the dossier relating to Foreign Sales Corporations (FSC): the American tax law which allows enterprises exporting goods produced in the United States to exclude part of their revenues from their taxable income, by passing their goods through foreign sales companies (Foreign Sales Corporations,) was deemed by the WTO to be similar to an export subsidy, and therefore censured, in January 2002. Although Congress approved a text repealing the censured measure, the European Union is not convinced that this new text is in compliance with WTO regulations.

– In the longer term, it is in the area of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy regulations for industrial goods that there is the highest probability of transatlantic litigation. The United States might decide, for example, to challenge the community ruling on the European ban on cosmetics tested on animals, or the ruling on marketing authorisations for chemical products.

– The agricultural question remains a fertile source of litigation, especially as in this area transatlantic issues can be exploited to benefit other foreign policy objectives (notably links with developing countries). Despite their structural differences, the European Union and the United States have in the past managed to arrive at a compromise after negotiations, ending with an agreement which was later adopted by the remaining WTO members. However the failure at Cancun demonstrated the limits of this practice, to which less developed countries are opposed. From now on, European and American interests are best served by seeking to forge alliances with the developing countries (G20) or the less developed countries (G90). This exercise is however easier for the United States than for Europe, who is seen as the guilty party in these negotiations. Indeed, if as the OECD estimates, an American farmer receives more subsidies than a European one (20,000 dollars compared to 16,000 in 2001), European pricing structure leaves it vulnerable to attack, as it has more protected sectors.

Europe and the United States – an indispensable partnership

Whatever the problems that beset their relationship, Europe and the United States must not allow their economic rivalry to degenerate into direct confrontation, for the two partners desperately need this transatlantic economic relationship.

The European market probably amounts to a mere 500 to 600 million consumers and producers, very modest figures when compared with the enormous populations of Asia. However, while political discourse in America and Europe talks constantly of the awakening of Asia or the increased power of emerging markets, the day-to-day reality is that the European Union and America are moving towards ever greater economic integration, which is developing independently of diplomatic and political relations.

Therefore, “Europe and the United States are each other’s largest and most profitable markets”(14): the transatlantic economic partnership, backbone of international economic relations since World War II, remains a pre-eminent force of the international economy. Recent tensions on Iraq have not altered this established fact. Moreover, the years following the end of the Cold War during which the fading of the common threat was supposed to have weakened transatlantic links have, in reality, been one of the most active periods of integration for the two entities. The relationship deepened even further in 2003, at the height of the Alliance crisis: for example, American investors invested 3.9 billion dollars in French stocks in the first eight months of 2003, as compared with barely one billion for the same period in 2002. In terms of jobs, these transatlantic commercial exchanges represent twelve million jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.

Those trade disputes which make the headlines are therefore not in the least representative of transatlantic economic links.  The fact is that commercial trade makes up only a modest share of transatlantic activity. We should point out here that they are however well in excess of the trade flow between the United States and Japan and China: in 2004, commercial exchanges were 151 billion dollars for American exports to the European Union, and 220 billion in the other direction; for Japan, the figures were respectively 52 and 118 billion dollars, while for China, they were 28 and 152 billion dollars – in other words, half of the transatlantic total.

Beyond trade, direct international investments are a vital element in transatlantic economic relations, and serve as a gauge of its precise dimensions. Belying the widespread belief that economies invest mainly in countries with low pay, European economies invest principally in America, and the same is true of their American counterparts : 65% of direct American investment abroad in 2003 was in Europe. To take a revealing example, between 1995 and 2003, American investment in the Netherlands alone was double its investment in Mexico and ten times that in China. American companies earn half their annual foreign profits in Europe. The total amount of direct American investment in Europe is 650 billion dollars, while European investment in the United States is 890 billion dollars, or 62 % of total direct foreign investment in the United States. With such potent links, the product of a growth rate of 3 % in Europe – which looks weak beside the American performance – nevertheless represents for the United States a market the size of Argentina.

France and the United States, two major economic partners

This finding for Europe is equally true for Franco-American economic relations: France and the United States are major economic partners. Each working day, about one billion dollars’ worth of commercial transactions take place between our two countries. What is more, French investment in the United States accounts for 515,000 jobs, while American investment in France is responsible for 583,000.

Going beyond these key figures, all the statistics confirm this interdependence :

– France is the US’s ninth most important trading partner for trading of goods, and the sixth for trading of services (2004 figures).

Over the period 1992-2004, bilateral trade in goods and services virtually doubled: in 2004, France exported 32 billion dollars’ worth of goods to the United States and imported 20 billion. The main focus of bilateral trade is the field of aeronautics, while contrary to popular belief, processed foods account for only 6% of France’s sales to the United States.

– France is the fifth largest foreign investor in the United States (143 billion dollars in stocks), forming with Japan, Germany and the Netherlands the four countries that are just a whisker behind the United Kingdom.

France holds 10% of the total stock of direct foreign investment in the United States, concentrated in the financial, computer technology and chemical sectors.

– Nearly 2,400 subsidiaries of French companies, representing 450,000 jobs, are located in the United States, mainly in the chemical and information (media and software) sectors.  Although the portion of US activity varies for each of these large concerns, we can guess that at least 20% of their activity comes from the United States.

In sum, we are looking at two very closely intertwined economies, with France contributing to American growth through its many subsidiary companies. The reverse is also true.

C. – A partnership vital for international stability

Maintaining a strong and effective transatlantic relationship has implications far beyond narrow European and American interests. It is also essential for international stability and security: even in a world changed beyond recognition from the world of the period 1945-1990, the transatlantic relationship, a legacy of the Cold War, continues to exert a stabilising influence.

It is quite a simple equation in which the facts speak for themselves: either Americans and Europeans move further apart, in the process becoming weaker and being forced to make enormous efforts to avoid the deterioration of existing world problems, or they act, if not in tandem, at least in co-operation, and in this case they will be equipped to solve any problem.

1. Differences that lead to inefficiency

Transatlantic differences increase European weak points and diminish, even neutralise, American power.

The consequences of inadequate transatlantic co-ordination in economic and financial matters

This conclusion also holds good in the financial and economic sphere. To take the Bretton Woods institutions as an example, recent economic and financial history shows that co-ordination between European Union member States and the United States is an essential element in the proper functioning and reform of these institutions. There are currently gaps in this co-ordination : first, because the United States is currently not very keen on multilateral action and does not want to seek a compromise with the Europeans; secondly, there is no common European position on certain subjects, even if progress has finally been made, because of the United States’ unique ability to oppose any major decision in the IMF or the World Bank. The first two causes of this inadequate co-ordination are closely linked: only a common European position can convince the United States that their interests are best served by co-ordinating with us: the current situation only encourages them to exploit European differences of opinion.

Turning next to G7, it is still a necessary forum, even if its intervention is no longer capable of responding to the challenges of the international financial and monetary system. Its restricted nature encourages compromise and gives an impetus to co-operation. Therefore it is in our interests to seek to strengthen transatlantic co-ordination within its framework, especially now when it is increasingly asserting itself as a useful instrument of consultation with developing countries, now that peripheral meetings are routinely held at summits (with the countries of North Africa and the Middle East in 2004, with China, India, South Africa and Brazil in 2005).

The consequences of transatlantic disagreements in the political and strategic field

Similarly, the same lesson must be drawn from the Iraq crisis, without wasting time on a sterile debate on the rights and wrongs of the protagonists.

The military phase of the Iraq intervention provided incontestable proof of America’s overwhelming military superiority and immeasurable power: there is currently no other country which, in such a brief period of time and with relatively few human losses, could take control of an area of operations the size of Iraq.

While America’s record in Iraq is less disastrous than some French commentators would maintain, it must be said that American intervention in Iraq may have serious consequences.

Speaking of the American policy record in this region, it should be noted that the Iraqis have rid themselves of a tyrant and have been able to express themselves democratically on the future of their country. Similarly, since 2003, we should not gloss over the fact that several Middle Eastern states have experienced significant internal changes: in Saudi Arabia, partially democratic elections were held on February 10, 2005, with 50% of municipal councillors for Riyadh and the surrounding area nominated by a section of the population, while the authorities retained the right to nominate the rest. It has to be said that women were excluded from the electoral body and in this area there is still much work to be done. For the first time, however, other democratic principles were respected, with an electoral campaign lasting 12 days using the print media, and with a truly pluralistic candidature of more than 1,800 people. Likewise, in Egypt, tentative but real progress has been made towards democracy, leading to the first ever pluralist presidential election in the country, on September 8, 2005. In the same period, important changes took place in Libya – with the abandonment of their clandestine nuclear programme – and in Syria, which withdrew from the Lebanon. Can these developments be laid at the door of the American policy of a Greater Middle East? That is for each individual to judge, just as it is still too soon to express an opinion on the risk of destabilisation that might result, in several countries, from granting freedom of expression to Islamic movements disseminating anti-democratic ideologies.

However, the balance sheet of American policy in Iraq and the region in 2003 contains many negative points. The endemic violence sweeping through Iraq is dangerous both in the medium and long term, because it makes the establishment of a democratic regime difficult; it also carries a risk of destabilisation beyond Iraq’s borders. Again, in ridding Iraq of Saddam Hussein, the United States may have strengthened Iran’s influence in the region.  The United States is currently denouncing Iran’s nuclear ambitions. For this has indeed been the outcome of the current unrest in Iraq: Iran now enjoys considerable influence in the country and to a large extent holds Iraq’s future in its hands. In this context, the efforts deployed by the European troika of Germany, France and the United Kingdom, to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, efforts that the United States supports, seem pointless when one considers that the main result of the unrest in Iraq is to strengthen Iranian influence in the region.

Also, America’s activities in Iraq have largely destroyed what credibility it still had in the Arab world, which was already, against a background of open confrontation between Palestinians and Israelis, suspicious of America’s close links with the latter. Public opinion in Muslim countries remains largely hostile to the United States, although recent surveys have shown some improvement. According to a Pew Research Centre survey carried out in April and May of last year, involving 17,000 people in fourteen countries(15), with the exception of Morocco (49% favourable opinions) and the Lebanon (42%), opinions in the Muslim countries in the sample were in the main unfavourable to the United States, which received only 38% positive opinions in Indonesia, 23% in Turkey and 21% in Jordan. Although in decline, there is still a high level of support for suicide operations against Americans in Iraq: 56% of those questioned in Morocco considered them to be justified, 49% in Jordan and the Lebanon, 29% in Pakistan, 26% in Indonesia and 24% in Turkey.

In these conditions, what can be the impact of the debate, launched by the United States, on democratisation in the Middle East – an urgent and necessary debate against a context of young Arabs who despair of the future? How can the countries of Europe lend effective support to this highly commendable American preoccupation, when the merest hint of support for such preoccupations is enough to discredit even the most appropriate initiative. It would indeed be a tragedy if the democratisation debate were to be cut short because it was launched by a country that is currently disliked in the Arab world, for democratisation is a key factor in curbing the development of Islamic international terrorism.

2. Co-ordination leading to success

If, as the Iraq situation illustrates, a lack of co-ordination between the two powers leads to American incoherence and weakness, as well as to European paralysis, the converse is also true: the partnership between Europe and the United States is a pledge of success in dealing with international problems. The treatment of the Iranian nuclear crisis is a prime example. In spite of the United States’ initial scepticism – now much diminished – about the methods used by France, Germany and the United Kingdom to dissuade Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, American did not call into question the principle of negotiation with Iran.

Beyond this timely issue, co-operation between France and the United States suggests that there is a close connection between co-ordination and efficiency. The two countries provide an interesting example of this, especially as they clashed so bitterly during the Iraqi crisis. The high level of tension between France and the United States did not prevent Franco-American co-operation from continuing in many diverse areas:

– thus, in spite of the very awkward period for relations between the two countries, co-operation in the fight against terrorism never wavered, and the French are still considered America’s best ally in this field. Anti-terrorist judges from both countries meet regularly within the framework of this co-operation;

– in Afghanistan, France is at the top of the list of countries who have lent the Americans their support, sending 5000 men to join the Multinational Force (MNF) on Afghan soil, under the command of a French general until last February 13; France is also supporting the US – the only other country to do so – in training the Afghan army and in sending special forces to the Afghan-Pakistan border to apprehend those responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks;

– this co-operation also works in exemplary fashion in the Balkans, where once again a French general was in command of NATO forces in Kosovo. Finally, in Haiti or in Africa, French and Americans again collaborated with excellent results;

– the close consultation between France and the United States on the Lebanese question made it possible to move forward with a dossier that had been frozen for a long time; now that Syria has withdrawn, the Lebanon can once again take control of its own destiny;

– in the field of nuclear energy, France and America have an excellent level of co-operation. The American desire to relaunch their nuclear energy programme has opened a new channel of communication between the two countries, while President Bush and Vice-President Cheney cite France’s energy policy as an example to follow;

– to look at a different area entirely, the strength and efficacy of transatlantic co-operation was once more brought to the fore during the Asian crisis of 1998. Financial co-operation between G7 members was particularly effective in the case of South Korea, where the joint intervention of Ministers from the G7 countries allowed Korea to keep its credit limits and avoid sinking into a chaotic situation that might have had disastrous consequences internationally.

Economic, monetary, military, diplomatic and environmental issues : the transatlantic partnership is a force for increased power in the United States, and enhanced influence for the European Union. On one condition however : that the Americans control their power, and the Europeans accept theirs. The commission proposes that both parties seek to go further along this path.




The transatlantic alliance forged in a context of cold war cannot be expected to survive without in-depth changes. Clearly, in order to do this, it is not enough to reform the Atlantic Alliance, the symbol beyond compare of transatlantic relations during the Cold War period: it is of course essential to redefine the strategic concept of NATO and change its structures but that cannot take the place of building transatlantic relations suited to today’s world.

Taking that observation as starting point, some people are tempted to relegate the Alliance to the rank of a relic of the past and argue, in the United States, in favour of exclusively pushing on with the national American interest, whether this coincides or not with that of their allies; and in Europe, of building a Europe that would define itself as in opposition to the United States and would seek on principle to show its difference.

Let us not be mistaken : the illusion of a European Bloc against the United States or of an America going it alone is just as futile as a return to the alliance of yesterday. The conclusion that emerges from the mission’s work is quite clear: Europe and the United States are so different that it would be useless to pretend that they share exactly the same vision of the world; they nevertheless share fundamental values and numerous interests, which set them apart from the vast majority of other countries. Severance or even slackening of the transatlantic link is not therefore a conceivable option either for the United States or the European Union. For the latter, besides the serious damage to its economic interests that a weakening of this link would represent, it would also mean the end of political Europe which is under construction. Indeed, while all Europeans are in favour of a united Europe, very few of them are prepared to achieve this to the detriment of the transatlantic relationship.

So it is not a question of the survival of the transatlantic link but about its restructuring and adaptation: how should the European Union and the United States organise their relations to deal with their differences without dramatizing them and effectively develop their common approaches? The war in Iraq showed the pernicious effects of confusion between political, economic and strategic spheres, of the all too simple "for or against us", and of an upsurge of anti-Americanism, a kind of not too serious transatlantic relationship ailment, which many Europeans rushed into.

There are some who will perhaps judge it too inappropriate to proceed today with redefining the transatlantic link when the European Union is still in a state of shock over the French and Dutch rejections of the draft constitutional treaty. Conversely, people may consider that, at a time when debate about the future of European construction is open, the question of any relations that Europe should maintain with the United States is more than ever on the agenda. And France, whose rejection of the constitutional treaty should not be seen as a lack of interest in the European project, must make proposals now to revive the process. It must do so not only because it is a pioneer State in European construction but also, as regards the specific transatlantic relationship issue, because it maintains a special relationship with the United States, probably the most passionate one of all. It must also do so to prove its ability to set out its ambitions for Europe while considering the Atlanticist sensitivity of some of its European partners, who may feel that France welcomed them into the European Union unenthusiastically. Lastly, it must also do so because, as an influential member of NATO, despite its particular status, and the second biggest contributor to defence in Europe, it is in its interest to have an effective transatlantic relationship.

This is the spirit in which the commission’s eight proposals lie; these proposals outline a new transatlantic agreement between two partners of similar size, an agreement suited to current international realities. The first two concern Franco-American bilateral relations (I) whilst the six following ones detail the components of a new agreement between the European Union and the United States (II).


So that French proposals for improving relations between Europe and the United States are given all the more attention, France must first reform its bilateral relationship with the United States. After the 2003 crisis, it is plain that restoring Franco-American relations will be a long-term job and will be achieved through multifaceted initiatives. Let us make no mistake, however, other crises are bound to come. So the question is not so much one of avoiding but of containing future disagreements so that the diplomatic apparatus in Washington does not set off the machine to brand France as being anti-American or to "hystericalize" the situation. With this aim in view, the commission is making two proposals designed to :

– promote mutual awareness between France and the United States by setting up a French foundation for transatlantic relations (proposal 1);

– increase symbolic actions by organising Franco-American initiatives attracting strong media attention and also an annual summit meeting between French and American officials (proposal 2).

Proposal 1: a French foundation for transatlantic relations

Over and above the basic things at stake, the bilateral crisis of 2003 highlighted, glaringly, the role of strategies for communication and influence in foreign policy. There is nothing really new in that but the strength of the anti-French campaign in the United States – the French-bashing –, which was relayed and even stirred up by influential sections of the media, willingly assuming a role of disseminating propaganda rather than information, underlined the decisive nature of communication in the age of globalisation and the Internet. It is clear that classic means are no longer enough when the matter at hand is convincing world opinion.

On that occasion, our country felt the complete weakness that comes from a lack of French means to relay opinion and influence in the United States, capable of bearing messages and of setting up a real communication strategy. This observation is just as valid, for that matter, outside crisis situations and can be established for disseminating French initiatives or ideas in any field on a day-to-day basis.

Unlike many of its European partners, France does not have a large French community in the United States that could act as a relay to communicate about its political stances – on foreign or domestic policy, for example concerning its system to fight against terrorism or the French notion of secularism – and to develop a strategy for influence.

And yet, in a country where a huge amount of information circulates, originating from many players, where French ideas and viewpoints are, whether we like it or not, in competition with many others, France must have suitable means to make its voice heard. This particularly concerns bearing upon opinion relays that have access to political decision-makers, as well as the American media which are avid for French views on major international topics, particularly since the Iraq crisis. French diplomatic services in the United States are no doubt already carrying out this role, which they have developed significantly since the Iraq crisis, in circumstances of severe deterioration of France’s image in the United States. We must, for that matter, salute their action, which led them to show great initiative, for example recruiting an American specialist, tasked, at the French embassy in Washington, with promoting and publicising French positions amid the United States Congress.

Defending France’s image and promoting our country’s initiatives and stances would be greatly strengthened, however, if State departments were backed up by an independent organisation, particularly in a country where civil society plays an eminent part, where the political decision-making process sanctions the role of lobbies and where the quality of communication matches up to the quality of the ideas people are seeking to promote.

It is with this aim in view that the commission proposes setting up a foundation for transatlantic relations, which would be established in both France and the United States.

This proposal is a direct consequence of the observation made above, regarding the complex nature of Franco-American relations, which are based on many links. Consequently, the actions carried out to improve these relations should be of varied nature and, above all, carried through by players from civil society. Furthermore, it is easier to fit into the American institutional environment by using the status of a foundation rather than that of a state-approved association. It is worth remembering that there are some 12,000 foundations in the United States compared with 2,000 in France, where this status has been improved with the aim of increasing its attractiveness[1].

This foundation would have three missions:

– To bring American opinion leaders and officials to France (along the lines of the US State Department’s International Visitors Leadership Program). There is admittedly a programme of this type in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ analysis and forecasting centre (programme for potential key figures), but it is not specifically for the United States. Consequently, this would involve stepping up the existing endeavour, thanks to the synergism between public and private funds made possible by the foundation’s status. This programme would be structured around specific theme-based sessions depending on the people welcomed: France’s foreign policy, the legal system, life in the media and the press, etc., the topics are numerous and should be tailored as best as possible to the expectations of the young Americans selected for the programme. We might add that, within this framework, training in European matters could also be introduced in order to respond to recurring criticisms from our American partners about the European Union’s lack of clarity. In point of fact, the European Union suffers from a serious lack of visibility in the United States, where its image is extremely hazy, when not actually negative, and linked to abstract views and an incomprehensible institutional jargon. To conduct a real policy of influence, Europe must be more intelligible to the American decision-making system: the foundation would contribute to this.

– To defend and promote France’s image in the United States, including via communication campaigns. It is illusory, today, to try to carry out effective diplomatic action without adapting to the surrounding cultural mould; now in the United States, that not only means developing communication campaigns throughout the national and regional press but also on television and Internet. Under the pressure of events in particular, French diplomatic services have already made headway on the subject. There is still a long way to go, as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs recognised when it devoted part of the Ambassadors’ Conference in August 2005 to the issue of strategies for influence.

The foundation suggested by the commission would play an added helpful part. It would be tasked with explaining things to the American Congress and, beforehand, to opinion relays – think tanks, various associations, the national but especially local media, special interest groups – that play a part in the political decision-making process. In addition, it would be responsible for giving greater visibility to Franco-American initiatives and cooperation mentioned in proposal 2.

This organisation would be funded mainly by private players, in particular companies, in accordance with the current law. Local authorities could also make a contribution if they so wished. Without being the official voice of France, the organisation would work with the diplomatic service, which, for the record, already works on disseminating arguments, information and explanations to non-official relays such as honorary consuls, foreign trade advisers, French teachers in schools or universities, researchers and students, scholarship holders, etc.

– Finally, to promote the setting up of French study centres in American universities. Their action would be complementary to the initiatives run by the Alliance Française networks, funding for which should be increased. The image France has in the United States is one of a "cultural superpower". We must use that asset and not neglect "intellectual diplomacy", even though the importance of this needs to be brought down to its true value. Promoting French study centres in the extremely dense fabric of American universities could help combat the francophobia of a fringe group of American intellectuals and elites. Granted, there are already such centres in most of the big American universities but, that is just the point, our action is too focused on the East coast of the United States and on the most prestigious establishments and would gain by being expanded to others. Spreading out to other areas has begun thanks to the initiative of the cultural services of the French Embassy in the United States, which helped to set up a centre at the University of Wisconsin, in Madison. The movement must be expanded.

Proposal 2: modernising the symbols of the Franco-American relationship

France and the United States share a wealth of history and sites we both hold in our memory, such as the landing beaches, are evidence of this. However, it is necessary to add to and modernize this symbolic heritage in order to foster a less nostalgic and sentimental, more modern and effective image of Franco-American relations.

• An annual Franco-American meeting at summit level

In the political field, when the 2003 crisis exacerbated Franco-American relations, we should underscore the practical working relations between France and the United States, in order to avert a potential return to quarrels that sometimes take a heated turn.

To this effect, the commission suggests holding an annual bilateral meeting at summit level that would bring together both Presidents and the French Prime Minister, in France and in the United States in turn. Its aim would be to take stock of bilateral cooperative actions and their achievements, thus enabling a review of the points of agreement; it would also focus on possible causes for divergence so that each is clearly aware of the positions and arguments of the other and so that there is prior agreement as to how these differences are communicated. Consequently, the rough edges to Franco-American relations would be smoothed over and a list of the points of agreement and disagreement could be drawn up and the amount of publicity to be given to each of them decided.

Should we fear that our European partners take offence at such an initiative, especially as it might appear to reinforce the United States in their resolve to foster bilateral relations with European countries to the detriment of dialogue with the European Union? The commission does not believe this apprehension is founded: firstly because significant stepping-up of EU-US political dialogue is also proposed, and secondly because in the absence of Communitisation of foreign policy, there is already substantial bilateral dialogue, the extent of which we mentioned above. We could furthermore accept that, prior to these summit meetings, France informs its EU partners of the issues to be addressed.

• Franco-American cooperation in high visibility areas

The top-level political summit would help launch and promote concrete co-operative actions between France and the United States in high visibility areas.

It is of course difficult to give media coverage of our co-operation as regards the fight against terrorism, an area that, by definition, is covered by the Official Secrets Act. However, the commission is keen to stress the essential nature of this co-operation and asks for it to be stepped up.

On the other hand, at a time when the explosion in oil prices leads us to ponder about fossil fuel replacement, our co-operation in the field of civil nuclear energy and new energy forms could be emphasized, especially since it demolishes the image France has in the United States, one of a country where life is good but which is little known for its technological feats. It is in France’s interest to put emphasis on its achievements in an area where it is ranked world leader and in which the United States co-operates actively. The latest example dated 28 February 2005 is the signature of an agreement on operational co-operation in the field of fourth generation nuclear reactors.

In other respects, at the very time when the United States has been hit by Hurricane Katrina, a joint initiative regarding civil protection assistance and prevention of natural disasters could be taken on France’s proposal. Likewise, the recurrence of this type of phenomena could lead our two countries to work together on climate change: stalemate on the part of the United States concerning the Kyoto protocol should not mean we give up discussing environmental matters with the US, especially since debate about the issue is both productive and diverse, and not at all like the caricatures we are presented with.

Lastly, in the admittedly very competitive field of medical research, co-operation is already plentiful and fruitful but would gain by being highlighted and extended, at a time when we are witnessing the accelerated spread of epidemics due to the effect of globalisation and the increase in trade it gives rise to.

• A secretariat for transatlantic relations

Finally, some members of the commission suggest that these co-operative actions be tracked by a permanent secretariat for Franco-American relations, which would be set up along the lines of what is in place in Germany, where a co-ordinator of German-American co-operation comes under the authority of the Federal Foreign Office. Such a structure, reporting to the head of political affairs in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, would provide the means to set up systematic working relations dissociated from the heated topical events that pop up again and again in Franco-American relations. It would help forge common working habits that could not fail to have an influence on personal relations. More broadly speaking, this secretariat would act as the driving force behind Franco-American relations, especially in economic matters.


Faced with sizable challenges, Europeans and Americans have to reform their alliance in order to adapt its objectives and ways of working to current demands.

We propose replacing the transatlantic agreement of the Cold War period, which was based on trading "security for unwavering solidarity", with a new agreement, formalized by five proposals. Their objective is twofold: enhanced dialogue and more effective co-operation.

The first two proposals are designed to give an institutional expression to the new transatlantic agreement and consist of:

– appointing a European co-ordinator for transatlantic relations (proposal 3);

– setting up a joint, permanent, bilateral EU-US secretariat for transatlantic relations (proposal 4).

The last three proposals specifically concern transatlantic security relations, the nerve centre of the link between Europe and the United States. They involve:

– implementing a long-term plan to co-ordinate and improve EU defence spending (proposal 5);

– forming a European "quad" enlarged to six members in NATO (proposal 6);

– and working out a new strategic concept for NATO (proposal 7).

A. – Stepping up transatlantic dialogue

Since political dialogue between the European Union and the United States suffers from two major shortcomings – the difficulty for EU Member states to co-ordinate and the complexity of the dialogue structure between the EU and the US -, the commission makes two proposals:

– to improve internal EU co-ordination concerning transatlantic relations by appointing a European co-ordinator for transatlantic relations (proposal 3);

– to simplify channels of dialogue between the European Union and the United States by setting up a permanent bilateral secretariat (proposal 4).

Proposal 3 : appointing a European co-ordinator for transatlantic relations

·        The need for a common European approach

There is no question of turning this report into a discussion about European construction and its purposes as a result of disappointing current events in Europe. The commission took up the transatlantic issue several months before the result of the referendums held in France and the Netherlands and does not intend to take advantage of this report to produce any kind of "plan B".

However, the preceding observations show that the priority is to combat intra-European divisions and, gradually, to draw forth a valid American policy from the European Union, which would take the place of the current notion of a "natural" transatlantic link. This link is understandable in a situation of massive threat but inappropriate to the European Union’s growing importance and to the increase in the number of challenges in the transatlantic relationship.

Real dialogue on transatlantic relations needs to emerge within the European Union, with the long-term objective being to hammer out a European position on relations with the United States. We are well aware that such dialogue is not self-evident since, for many of our partners, NATO is still the forum for transatlantic debate about major international strategic issues, with the G7 being devoted to economic and monetary matters. We are, nevertheless, convinced that the inefficiencies and cumbersomeness of the current transatlantic relationship come from the fact that this plan is unsuited to the demands of the 21st century.

• Appointing a co-ordinator for transatlantic relations

This dialogue would be monitored and impelled by a co-ordinator for transatlantic relations. Although appointed by the European Council, this co-ordinator would be responsible for monitoring intra-European dialogue in all areas of the transatlantic relationship, that also means as far as Community spheres are concerned (trade relations, issues of competition, etc.). As for its status, particularly in relation to the President of the Council, the head of foreign policy and the President of the Commission, this should be negotiated among Member states.

This proposal, made by the commission and inspired by the model of the German co-ordinator of transatlantic co-operation, aims in the first place to solemnise relations between the European Union and the United States, which are currently on the same level as most other foreign relations in the EU’s institutional structure. It is furthermore a response to American criticisms about the complexity of the EU and its abstract and technocratic nature. This criticism, also levelled by Russia, the EU’s other partner, may conceal spite but we are not fooled by this; however, we must not underestimate the import of that argument : European citizens find it hard to understand the Union and our foreign partners even more so.

For the time being, given the difficulty of such dialogue, we need to be realistic. Therefore, the commission suggests that the co-ordinator for transatlantic relations endeavours:

– In a first phase, to see to it that this transatlantic dialogue inside the European Union takes the shape of an informal agreement between EU members, a sort of gentlemen’s agreement that would be designed, in the short and medium term, to prevent a further crisis like the one that Europe went through in 2003 with Iraq. The EU Member states would agree to meet on a regular basis to exchange opinions on matters involving transatlantic relations and, in the case of differences of opinion, would undertake not to involve others when setting out their standpoints in public.

– In a second phase, to focus this dialogue on two themes that the commission feels are a priority in order to foster better European co-ordination:

. on the subject of the economy and finance, the question of better harmonized representation in the Bretton Woods institutions should be raised within the EU because European and transatlantic co-ordination is insufficient today in an area that nevertheless concerns the dynamism of European growth.

Currently, the European Union does not carry weight equivalent to the accumulated voting rights of its members as a result of the particularities of the representation system in the Bretton Woods institutions([2]).

Some people say that the institution of a single European chair would be technically possible, subject to the statutes being changed and co-ordination at European level to define the mandate of the director for Europe. Uniting European representation would, moreover, be the ultimate solution since with at least 15 % of the voting rights, this would give Europe a right of veto.

Bearing in mind the reluctance of some EU members to lose their own votes in these institutions, there is no certainty, at least to begin with, that uniting EU representation would bring any advantages, especially since prior co-ordination would be difficult. Nevertheless the debate should be set in motion; it could result either in an agreement as to a single chair, which is highly unlikely, or in any other system of unifying European representation.

The following measures could already be considered within the bounds of this European dialogue: at the IMF, adoption by EU members of joint written declarations on subjects that do not give rise to differences, similar to what is starting to occur at the World Bank, where a European vision of development is becoming apparent; the introduction of a rule holding that permanent presidency should always include a European director in order to increase visibility of the European Union and the euro zone. On examining the rules governing the way the IMF and World Bank work, this co-ordination would be a huge step forward ([3]).

. in the area of defence and security, the matter of the EU Member states’ budget allocated for defence needs to be tackled head-on as part of European dialogue concerning the United States. The commission has drawn up proposal 5 on that subject.


Proposal 4 : setting up a permanent European Union/United States secretariat for transatlantic relations

Setting up intra-European dialogue on transatlantic relations naturally leads to establishing real political dialogue between the European Union and the United States, which does not exist today. The current structure of dialogue between the European Union and the United States is too complex and has not brought about a political dynamic.

It is time to put an end to this paradox, when the European Union is the United States’ only global partner and when the channels for relations between the two bodies are numerous, but sporadic and technocratic. Likewise, the reciprocal feeling of distance, even though there are many links (institutional, human, economic or cultural) between the two entities, could be dispelled if the European Union had its heart set on building real political dialogue with the United States, and the United States a coherent policy, devoid of ambiguity in relation to their European allies.

Today, at a time when the United States have shown renewed determination since the start of President Bush’s second term to give substance to transatlantic dialogue, when the new EU members also set great store by this dialogue and when the breakthrough of emerging countries, China for a start, makes true transatlantic solidarity a matter of urgency, it is time to get transatlantic dialogue started again, embodying it in a single, all-inclusive structure.

That is why the commission suggests setting up a permanent bilateral secretariat in order to step up transatlantic political dialogue. On the European side, it would come under the authority of the President of the Council and would be run by the European co-ordinator for transatlantic relations mentioned earlier.

The role of the secretariat for transatlantic relations would be :

– To deal with Community and intergovernmental matters alike, i.e. it would be responsible for preparing EU-US summits, for preparing meetings of multilateral financial institutions or for monitoring transatlantic negotiations within the context of the World Trade Organization.

– To act also as a driving force, firstly by working out proposals to increase economic integration. More importantly, this new structure could deal full time with the matter of convergence of regulations either side of the Atlantic, since most obstacles to transatlantic trading are not related to prices.

– As part of this role as leader, it would also be tasked with promoting the organisation of meetings between political and administrative officials, specialists and researchers on strategic topics of common interest. On security matters, this would involve avoiding a repeat scenario of the 2003 Iraq crisis type. Several subjects emerge within this context which could, in the medium and long term, lead to acute transatlantic tensions. Joint transatlantic discussion could therefore be started up on the two issues that stand out in this respect:

. In view of the situation in Iran and North Korea, we need to reflect together on future crisis scenarios: what would a world with ten or fifteen States equipped with nuclear weapons be like and, more especially, what does a Near East with a nuclear-endowed Iran imply? How to redefine an international system of non-proliferation?

. Likewise, as we have already underscored, the debate about democratisation of the Arab-Muslim world deserves to be addressed more thoroughly : how does the democratisation/Islamisation pair work in the Near East ? What scope does transatlantic co-operation have to see this project through? All these are subjects which transatlantic political dialogue needs to study using a futures-oriented approach.

– Lastly, to act as an alarm system so as to identify as far ahead as possible subjects that could bear potential crises, whether in matters of trade disputes or concerning security issues.

B. – Co-operating more effectively

Proposal 5 : a long-term plan to co-ordinate and increase EU defence spending

Many Europeans were upset when they discovered in an article in Foreign Affairs written in Spring 2002 by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, the statement according to which in US eyes "coalitions must not determine the mission". There is a great deal of blindness and a certain lack of coherence in this emotion: the American preference for ad hoc coalitions indisputably originates in part from the fact that Europeans devote insufficient means to their defence.

A few figures show the extent of this shortfall. The gap between American and European military spending today is $200 billion, the United States alone spend over twice more than European states belonging to NATO ($333 billion compared with $160 bn). This gap is not likely to diminish seeing the continual increase in the United States’ defence budget, which, for fiscal 2005, amounts to $447 billion.

This huge gap is further accentuated by structural differences between European budgets on the one hand and American on the other. Whereas the United States allots 35 % of their defence budget to personnel and 30 % to purchasing new equipment, most European states (France, Italy, Spain, Poland, Greece, Belgium) spend between 60 and 70 % on personnel and 10 % at the most on purchasing new equipment. What is more, Europe spends five times less in the field of military research and development than the United States. So all in all, the military capabilities available to European States account for only 20 % of the United States’ capabilities, while Europe has 20 % more military personnel than America. Hence a great imbalance as regards power projection: as the United States has a higher ratio of equipment and better structuring between the number of combatants and the number of support forces, they were able to deploy 115,000 to 140,000 men in Iraq, in 2003 et 2004, where the United Kingdom, Italy, Poland, the Netherlands and Denmark deployed a maximum of 16,000 over the period.

Under these circumstances, what are the chances of success for the new NATO programme decided in Prague, during the 2002 summit, which plans to reduce the capability gap between the Europeans and Americans in NATO, – this programme was adopted three years after the 1999 Defence Capabilities Initiative([4]), which, focusing on the same purpose swiftly ended in bitter failure?

Let there be no mistake, the rebuff that Europeans in NATO met with in 2001, when they suggested to their American partners the implementation of article V of the Washington treaty, owes much to this difference in capabilities. Already, after NATO’s Operation Allied Force in Kosovo, the American army had vowed that this first of a kind would be the last, retaining very bad memories of having to negotiate and then reduce the range of targets to be hit. In the case of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, in autumn 2001, the absence of precision-guided bombs in European arsenals, when the United States were counting on using them massively in Afghanistan, gave an added argument to those in the Pentagon who refused war "by committees"([5]).

There is certainly no question of European countries following the United States’ lead by doubling their defence funding. We should recognize, however, that this modern version of the "US gap" is certainly not impartial in the current transatlantic relationship. A real risk hangs over the interoperability between the armed forces on either side of the Atlantic, even though, spontaneously, the United States are not the most concerned by the issue of interoperability. It is worth mentioning on that score the little known fact that American forces themselves are, in part, inoperable among each other: for instance, in 2001, during the Afghanistan operations, the forces in the Mediterranean fleet were temporarily unable to co-ordinate their actions with those of the Pacific fleet for lack of identical telecommunications encryption.

Yet the fact is that our fellow citizens are genuinely allergic to defence spending. For example, while 70 % of Europeans think that the European Union should become a superpower similar to the United States, 44 % of them give up on that idea if it involves an increase in military spending. What does the annual survey conducted by the German Marshall Fund in September 2005 confirm other than that Europeans side in fact with the American strategy of tailor-made alliances?

It is not very responsible to call for reform of the transatlantic link by restricting ourselves, for defence, to the Cold War principle by which the United States will in any case defend Europe if need be. EU Member states have an obligation to be coherent and to educate people on this point. We must stop looking upon military spending as an optional or secondary expenditure, because of some kind of fatalism that claims that terrorism is unforeseeable, complex and impossible to overcome by classic military means and as a result of vainly opposing civil spending (social in particular) and military spending. An unspoken distribution of roles between the United States that are established as a "hard power" and Europe reduced to a "soft power" is not advisable because it obliges Europe to deal with the effects of American policy without allowing it to control events. The alternative is not between, on the one hand, opposing American initiatives when we deem them adventurous by keeping low levels of military equipment spending and, on the other, blindly following the United States, which includes spending excessive amounts on defence. It is between the responsible option which consists in giving credibility to our diplomatic choices by backing them up with military budgets worthy of our ambitions and the option of inconsistency which prevails in Europe at present.

In this respect, it is not to show self-satisfaction when we say that France, which has the second biggest defence budget in Europe after the United Kingdom, chose consistency and, as a result of this, is in a position to ask its partners to do likewise. For instance, since 2002, only Great Britain, France and Greece devote more than 2 % of their gross domestic product (GDP) to their defence, with 2.2 %, 2 % and 3 % respectively in 2004. Sweden spends 1.8 % of its GDP on defence. The other countries stand at much lower levels: 1.1 % for Germany, 1.2 % for Italy and 0.9 % for Spain.

In view of these observations, European Union countries need to improve the effectiveness of their defence spending by reducing the weight of personnel costs in favour of equipment purchases and by co-ordinating their defence effort, notably to improve their collective power-projection capability. This co-ordination should particularly focus on resources for support and training. Some members of the commission even go so far as to suggest better integration of national spending within the framework of a European defence project, which includes a potential distribution of tasks among the various Member states: this, however, is not the position of the rapporteur or of most of his colleagues in the commission.

Europeans in the Alliance who spend less than 2 % of their GDP on defence must also solemnly undertake to increase their share of the "burden" that the price of security in Europe equates with, so they are level with the French and British. The terms of this increase could be reconciled with the sensitivity of European public opinions on these matters. For instance, this undertaking could be part of a long-term plan (2007-2013) to increase, even modestly, EU countries’ global defence spending, determined in proportion to gross domestic product. In order to give pledges for the future and to maximise this extra budget outlay, a part of this increase could focus on research spending, whether civil and military or just military, and civil spin-offs could help ease the public opinion’s acceptance of this expenditure. At the same time, an undertaking would be made to increase the portion of military spending allotted to purchasing new equipment. In this way, our fellow citizens would probably accept this budget increase all the better since they would be convinced that, thanks to better co-ordination, defence spending in Europe meets requirements.

Proposal 6: forming a "quad" increased to six members and readjusting NATO’s commands

• Better organized Europeans: a six-member "quad"

Sharing the budget burden should be negotiated with the United States in exchange for sharing decision-making within NATO, and this, moreover, would ease the task of educating people that we just mentioned. This involves redistributing responsibilities within NATO between the United States on one hand and European States on the other. The commission considers that we can no longer continue to take refuge, like the United States, behind the legal illusion according to which NATO works by consensus, based on the classic principle of "one State, one vote". Things are quite different, as Mr Evan Galbraith, special adviser to the American delegation to NATO, recognised very blandly when he mentioned the Europeans’ "very different interests" and underscored that "for the Americans, a European Bloc would create difficulties in conducting their traditional relations with each country". Europeans would definitely have a huge job of organising consultation among themselves beforehand; carrying on with the present unequal situation would scarcely be compatible with giving European States more responsibility for the budget. The United States must accept that if Europe increases its military funding, it should also be able to decide more.

In return for the Europeans’ acceptance of sharing the burden, the commission therefore proposes forming a new type of European "quad"([6]), increased to six members. For instance, France would suggest to Germany consultation on defining the confines best suited to strategic dialogue with the United States, bringing the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and Poland in on this. Because of their defence outlay and their place in the Alliance, all these States have authority to be part of the "quad"; however, as regards Germany in particular, it will definitely have to increase its budget investment in the military field. The imbalance between its role in Europe and its defence funding is too striking today.

The formation of this "quad" would put an end to the schizophrenia-like situation in which Europeans are placed in NATO today: united in trade, economic and monetary areas, accustomed to working together on a daily basis in ESDP authorities, they are supposed to reason in strictly national terms and treat their partners in the Union and Turkey, the United States or Canada on the same level when they meet on NATO premises.

As for this new type of "quad" being recognized by the United States and getting an institutional expression, that is another matter. We can see here the debate about the European pillar of NATO, which is not new; but that does not mean it is outmoded and it will crop up one day if the European members of the Alliance manage to draw their positions closer. The purpose of the Atlantic Alliance is to have two pillars; but first, let us say it again, the Union has to be capable of organising the one that depends on it – that is the purpose of the "quad" – and, what is more, the United States have to accept this. There is still a long way to go on the subject.

• A more balanced Alliance : reform of commands

Clearly, the first consequence of forming a European, six-member "quad" will be to revive the debate about the allocation of NATO commands, which should reflect the existence of the European pillar.

In this respect, the commission proposes that at least the post of Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), an American, comes back to one of the members of the "quad". Traditionally, for that matter, this position was taken on alternately by a German and a British person and it is only recently, when NATO’s commands were reformed, that the Germans relinquished their right for other advantages – probably an unfortunate choice. This arrangement could perfectly well be reviewed as part of the new agreement that would see the main European countries in matters of defence trading increased capability and better co-ordination in return for more responsibilities in NATO.

• Greater involvement for France in the Alliance?

The second consequence of forming the "quad" directly involves France. The question would be raised ipso facto of whether France should not regain a full and integral place in NATO. We have already underscored that France is a major power in NATO today, including in its military structures. Our country is gradually getting back into most of the Alliance’s committees, commands and military organs, even if its participation is limited in numbers (1 %) and to one purpose, the setting up of the rapid response force. However, France retains its specific character by being absent from the Alliance’s two organs responsible for planning: the Defence Planning Committee (DPC) for conventional force matters and the Nuclear Planning Group (NPG), as regards nuclear matters.

Would the setting up of the "quad" involve taking things further?

It is important in this respect to make a clear distinction between what comes under planning as regards conventional forces and the nuclear field.

• In nuclear matters, let us remember that it was to safeguard France’s autonomy to make strategic decisions that General de Gaulle decided, in 1966, that France would no longer take part in NATO’s defence planning. This autonomy in decision-making does not prevent France from playing the operational role it wishes to have in the Alliance. So there is no reason to reconsider the autonomy of French nuclear forces.

• On conventional matters, a clear distinction must be made between what comes under operational planning, i.e. the participation of French soldiers in planning operations related to specific operations – Afghanistan, Kosovo – and what concerns defence planning, that is to say the planning to coherently structure the defence systems of countries whose armies are fully integrated into the NATO structure:

– In the first case, France is obviously a stakeholder in the process, insofar as it is one of the main contributors in the way of military forces: this involves isolated planning, inherent to any outside operation involving several countries.

– So, the only question we are really faced with concerns defence planning.

In fact, by taking part in the NATO Response Force (NRF) and by setting up headquarters to NATO standards, France partly comes into a defence planning process: the aim here, within the framework of headquarters with a large proportion of foreign generals and officers([7]), is to set up the procedures that will allow rapid deployment of this new type of mobile force that the NRF embodies – and this is the exact description of planning.

Must we, right now, go beyond any developments taking place within the framework of the NRF, and participate fully in all of NATO’s defence planning? To date, the consequences would be as follows:

1. The first consequence of taking part in defence planning, and therefore in Defence Planning Committee (DPC) meetings, would be a considerable increase in the French armed forces assigned to this huge machine that NATO planning represents today, with its staff of 12,000. Taking part in the planning process would in fact involve coming at least into line with Germany (2,500 people assigned to planning tasks), that is to say would suppose a complete overhaul of the organisation of our officering. Would our armed forces become more efficient? This is the only question which we should use to evaluate the problem of France’s participation.

2. Politically speaking, France’s participation in the DPC would make futile the argument about certain Alliance members’ attempts to use the DPC to make decisions that are normally the remit of NATO’s political decision-making organ, the North Atlantic Council (NAC). These attempts to bypass the NAC have nevertheless been thwarted up to now: France stays watchful and, until now, has imposed its views, in such a way that the NAC has retained its powers and France its say.

3. As part of the command reform that we mentioned earlier, the forces planning process is currently being studied and worked on with regard to changes to be made to remedy present cumbersomeness. Before France gives a decision on why it would be in its advantage to take extra steps to "normalise" its position in NATO, would it not be wiser to wait for the outcome of these complex negotiations?

4. To date, our special place in NATO is not an obstacle to effective (we repeat) co-operation on operational ground with our partners in the Alliance. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the quality of our operational co-operation with the American forces: French and Americans work very effectively on the ground, and on good terms, and the soldiers from both countries genuinely appreciate one another. The very close Franco-American collaboration in setting up the NATO Response Force (NRF) is also evidence of this. More importantly, the new French headquarters dedicated to the NRF, based in Lille, will include a dozen American officers. Here again, we must consider France’s interest: if, one day, our status in the Alliance is harmful to our army’s co-operation with the allied forces, then we will need to look into the possibility of much greater rapprochement.

Ultimately, the gesture would no doubt be symbolic but, to date, without any real advantage for our armed forces, and what is more without any real point on account of reforms in force at NATO. We must admit that France’s current position in NATO affords considerable advantages in terms of negotiating flexibility. French diplomats and officers are present in key positions where decisions are made, without however being bound by the red tape of NATO processes. France is both sufficiently on the outside to be able to adopt a critical stance on the Alliance’s political options and sufficiently on the inside for the men and money it provides to have enough weight in the decision-making structures.

Is this policy tenable as the ESDP’s importance grows? France made its commitment to NATO a means to reinforce the ESDP at the same time. In short, where Great Britain sees the ESDP as a means to strengthen the Alliance, France calculates differently, it sees in the Alliance a means to reinforce the ESDP, in particular thanks to the growth of interoperability between Europeans and to the common military culture created in its midst. This policy of constructive ambiguity consolidates the French position as much as the ESDP. This is precisely its objective. If it turns out that it is no longer fulfilling this objective and that it no longer allows us to work efficiently with our allies, it will need to be changed. It is pragmatism and not positions of principle that should guide our action on the subject.

Proposal 7: a new strategic concept clarifying NATO’s role

By a paradox that is only superficial, the fact that the Atlantic Alliance is no longer central to American strategy probably means it is an opportune moment to start the debate about its role in the future. In a twofold context of playing down the importance of the challenges linked to the Atlantic Alliance and the extent of threat, there is a real opportunity to tackle the question of the Alliance’s role, even if discussions about the future of the Alliance have long been a taboo subject. If we consider that the Alliance is still one of the bases for relations between Europe and the United States, then the official silence is no longer acceptable. The question has to be settled of whether NATO should remain an American and European military defence tool or turn into a regional political organisation of international calling. For lack of solving NATO’s current inconsistencies, its members are increasing its fragility and posing a threat to its sustainable nature.

To settle this debate, we need to be able to clearly answer three questions that are tarnishing the Alliance’s image today:

– Is the Alliance still solely a military tool for collective defence or a regional security organisation of military and civil calling?

– Who is authorized to decide on the Alliance’s intervention in a military operation, its Council or the UN?

– What should the Alliance’s geographic field of intervention be?

1. What is the nature of the Alliance?

The primary mission of the Alliance, an instrument for collective defence, needs to be reaffirmed.

Need we remind you that the Atlantic Alliance gets its long-standing legitimacy from its initial and essential character of a military alliance for collective defence? It must therefore remain a military tool, whose prime purpose – to protect Europe and North America – must be reaffirmed. This reminder of NATO’s collective defence mission is important, particularly for the new Member states from the Soviet bloc: their determination to be part of NATO is to a large extent motivated by this mission, embodied in article V of the Washington treaty founding NATO. May we remind you that only one of the operations currently implemented by NATO comes under the collective security mission: this is Operation "Active Endeavour" where ships are patrolling the Mediterranean and which is part of the fight against terrorism and the transport of weapons of mass destruction([8]).

Reaffirming the primary role of the Alliance would not mean that it is unauthorized to intervene as a force to restore and maintain peace: so long as it acts within the context of international law, this new role, acquired in the 1990s, cannot be questioned. It does not pose a problem that the Atlantic Alliance has added to its static, defensive role by one of operational intervention: all Western armies have made changes to this effect. NATO has a role to play in both Kosovo and Bosnia.

2. Who decides on the Alliance’s intervention ?

As a power-projection force, NATO has authority to intervene in operations by decision of its members, either within the framework of the mutual assistance clause or by mandate of the UN Security Council.

We mentioned NATO’s power-projection role, acquired during the previous decade at a time when the end of the Soviet glacis was rousing nationalist passions in Europe’s eastern regions. This new role assumed by the Alliance is not disputable; but even then it needs to have a clear mandate in this respect.

The Atlantic Alliance is not authorized to take the place of the UN Security Council in cases where it is not intervening to legitimately defend one of its members. From this point of view, the intervention in Kosovo, during which NATO went into action without the agreement of the Security Council, cannot be seen as a precedent. Here we had a very specific case where the choice was between doing nothing, which would inevitably have happened if put to the Security Council because of the likely Russian veto, and protecting and defending threatened populations. This specific case cannot be expected to result in fleshing out a general doctrine which requires that the Alliance only intervenes when its members so decide, never mind the rules of international law.

The idea that the Atlantic Alliance is entitled to decide itself on resorting to force, on the grounds that it only brings together "liberal democracies that, since its creation, have not shown any intention of growing and have spared no efforts to secure peace and stability"[9], is totally unfounded. Whether some people like it or not, the international system is still structured around the principle of State sovereignty and the principle of "one State, one vote": this is why serious decisions such as resorting to force against another State must, except in the case of self-defence, be made by the UN Security Council, which remains the only international authority authorized by law. The fact that UN members work according to democratic principles internally or not is not a criterion to challenge this principle in the eyes of international law. Acknowledging that the Atlantic Alliance has a right of legitimation to use force would amount to promoting retaliatory measures and therefore to opening Pandora’s box.

Yet what would we do if there were a crisis like the one in Kosovo in 1998? For instance, in the event of a "Kosovo 2" in Europe, inaction would not be conceivable, unless we were able to define right now a system that observes international law whilst providing the means to stop a blatant violation of human rights and the risk of destabilizing regional security. This mechanism would avoid any temptations to intervene that might be based on a debatable interpretation of the right of self-defence, which could lead to unfortunate experiences such as in Iraq.

3. What is the Alliance’s geographic area of intervention ?

Today, it is a fact: the Alliance is present far beyond European or North American borders. And yet, in the absence of an open debate on the subject, the Atlantic Alliance’s legitimacy to intervene outside Europe is not established, but still has to be built.

To date, acceptance of the facts forces us to conclude that NATO’s interventions in what is conventionally called the "out of area" pose many problems because they correspond to a case-by-case logic, without any previously defined framework. Even in a clear-cut, international framework, where NATO intervenes as the UN’s military arm, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) present in Afghanistan repeatedly comes up against the European allies’ lack of enthusiasm to supply the equipment needed for the mission, as was illustrated in 2003 by the "helicopter controversy". This is the reason why the ISAF is scarcely seen outside Kabul, which could pose serious problems in the future. Likewise, NATO’s very limited involvement in Iraq gave rise to much debate in the Alliance. One can wonder to what extent the material difficulties pleaded are not also a sign of political doubts with regard to the undefined enlargement of the Alliance’s scope.

It is worth querying if these missions strengthen or weaken the Alliance. Back in 1990, when the Americans were steering the debate towards politicisation and globalisation of the Alliance, France denounced the creation of a new "Holy Alliance". NATO’s mixed results outside Europe and the considerable tensions that such missions create in the Alliance, in particular regarding the fight against terrorism, are likely to weaken the Alliance, contrary to the initial goal of strengthening it that such missions are supposed to contribute to.

The commission therefore proposes that a preliminary doctrine be debated and defined, within NATO, which would avoid complex negotiations on a case-by-case basis. This doctrine would make it possible to define clearly on what conditions and under which circumstances the Alliance has grounds for intervening outside its "natural" area.

The preceding developments distinctly show that, today, no one is able to clearly explain what the Alliance’s mission is nor what is the legal or moral justification for its interventions – when these do not come within the collective defence mission. Quite the reverse, all the members of the Alliance maintain utmost ambiguity on these questions.

This is not a satisfactory situation. The commission considers that, if there are grounds for adopting measures to reorganise the Alliance in order to better distribute responsibilities and assert Europe’s role within it, it is not a good idea to give this revamped Alliance the role of a kind of "UN for rich countries in the northern hemisphere" and to extend its mission. In order to avoid this risk, a collective discussion is essential to clearly define the role, conditions and scope of intervention for NATO in the future.




The commission’s conclusion is simple and far from any alarmist views and cut-and-dried analyses: what unites Europe and the United States is far greater than what divides them.

The list of bones of contention, indeed of transatlantic crisis, may seem impressive: granted, protecting Europe is no longer the absolute priority of the American diplomatic and military machine and has not been so since 1989, not that the United States no longer want to protect Europe but because they consider that it no longer needs protecting as in the past; granted, the United States is a power of an unequalled magnitude that, for this reason, has developed a vision and application of international relations that is more unilateral and consequently less in accordance with the tradition of the law, not hesitating to resort to force; granted, Europe and the United States clash repeatedly in matters of trade; granted, on the values front, the United States have developed a corpus that is specific to them and that the rest of the world does not necessarily share; granted, and finally, Europe’s level of organisation and its ability to take military action on its own are cause for potential crisis, or at least for latent tensions.

And yet who will deny that the alliance between Europe and the United States is the most solid in the long term and the most consonant with the interests of either party? If Europe is no longer central to the United States’ strategic concerns, it is because the military alliance that unites them within the Atlantic Alliance played its part to the full during the Cold War. But does that mean that the United States are going to turn round and build a long-lasting alliance with China or India? On the international front, the United States and Europe share the same aims on security and stability which are expressed daily by the same commitment against terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and by a shared vision of world trade rules. As for the debate about values, do we have to remind people that the United States and Europe, along with a very small number of countries, share a commitment to respecting the fundamental rights of the individual?

This plain and simple conclusion is not based on any kind of sentimentalism; this approach, may we say in passing, has prevailed for too long in Franco-American relations. It is the result of objectively analysing the links that unite Europe and the United States, and therefore stems from mere pragmatism. Moreover, the commission’s firm belief that transatlantic relations must remain strong comes of this same pragmatism, and is not based on a gratuitous declaration of opinions: in view of the economic integration between the two entities and given the importance of security, the United States and Europe are simply not able to allow themselves the luxury of a weakening of the mutual relations they maintain.

All that remains is to devise the form of this new partnership, when the origins of the current transatlantic alliance were forged during the Cold War, that is to say in a radically different strategic context.

This is the aim of the proposals embodied in this report, which would seriously breathe new life into transatlantic relations if they were implemented.

The aim of the new transatlantic agreement is clear: to tighten the links between Europe and the United States by organising them more effectively. This involves clearing up the ambiguities hanging over transatlantic relations, which in the long run are dangerous to the effectiveness of our joint action in the face of present-day international challenges.

The means for this new agreement are just as clear: in military and strategic matters, to negotiate a "sharing of the burden" in exchange for sharing the decision-making; in political, economic and trade matters, to institutionalise and systematise dialogue to achieve increased practical effectiveness and co-operation.

It is true that it is another matter whether the United States are interested in this new agreement and are not just content with maintaining the status quo which, in the face of European diversity, places them, they believe, in a position of strength. They have to come to terms with it: in the coming years, the European Union will be advancing towards political unity and a collective organisation of its defence. It is in the United States’ interest to define new relations with the European Union.



(1) By the terms of this article, “the Member Nations agree that an armed attack against one or more of them shall be considered as an attack against them all: consequently, that if such an attack should take place, each one of them will assist the Member Nation or Member Nations thus attacked by immediately taking whatever action it considers necessary, including the use of armed force, to re-establish and ensure security in the North Atlantic region.”

(2) Cf. p.37.

(3) Number of inhabitants of the European Union after the inclusion of Romania and Bulgaria in 2007.

(4) Frédéric Bozo, Where does the Transatlantic Alliance Stand ? The Improbable Partnership, IFRI notes, 1998.

(5) Interoperability can be defined as the capacity, for different NATO members, to act together without any unexpected technical restrictions. It implies that the military forces of the Alliance should be able to carry out their missions without having to concern themselves with technical differences between the different systems they use and without any obligation for additional training.

(6) The strategic concept of the Alliance defines its purpose as “to reinforce the security and stability of the Euro-Atlantic region”.

(7) France supplies almost one quarter of the initial force and general staff of the land-sea-air component, or the second largest contribution to the Response Force.

(8) Samuel Huntington, Who are we? The Challenges to America’s National Identity, Simon & Schuster, 2004.

(9) Source: Changing America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being by Race and Hispanic Origin, published by the Economic Advisory Committee for President Clinton’s Initiative on Race, in September1998.

(10) On how September 11 acted as a catalyst, Bruno Tertrais’s La guerre sans fin, Seuil, 2004, is useful.

(11) Goldman vs. Weinberger Ruling, 1986: on this point cf. Denis Lacorne’s study, La crise de l’identité américaine, Du melting-pot au multiculturalisme, Gallimard, 2003, p.41

(12) Survey carried out in June 2005 for the Ari movement (financed by the Soros foundation) and the KOC group, on 1250 people over 18 in 15 Turkish towns and also in rural areas.

(13) Study by Euro RSCG Worldwide, October 2005-10-19.

(14) Daniel Hamilton, Joseph Quinlan, Le Figaro, December 3, 2003.

(15) Telephone survey carried out by in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Russia, Poland, Turkey, Jordan, Indonesia, China, India and Pakistan, Lebanon, Morocco. Available at website

([1]) Law n° 2003-709 dated 1st August 2003 relative to patronage, associations and foundations. It particularly provides for making statutes more flexible and improving the tax status of foundations.

([2]) On paper, the voting rights of EU Member states total 31.92 % at the IMF and 27.98 % at the World Bank, compared with 17.11 % and 16.39 % respectively for the US. Given that important decisions have to be adopted at the IMF with 85 % of the voting rights and at the World Bank with 3/5 of the members representing at least 85 % of voting rights, the United States have a right of veto in both institutions.

([3]) The executive boards of the IMF and the World Bank are made up of 24 members who either represent a country (US, Germany, Japan, UK, France, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia) or a group of countries called constituencies. Most EU Member states belong to constituencies, which do not always only include Member states, or are members of constituencies in which they are a minority. Under these circumstances, some have to make compromises in order to be elected executive director of their constituency or are not in a position to get the position potentially defined at European level adopted by their representative. This obviously limits and complicates European co-ordination.

([4]) In 1999, in Washington, Heads of State and Government of NATO countries launched an initiative concerning defence capabilities, the objective of this initiative being to improve the defence capabilities of countries belonging to the Alliance with the aim of securing effective future multinational operations. This more particularly involved putting emphasis on improving the interoperability between Alliance forces and, where appropriate, between Alliance forces and those of their partners. As this initiative did not produce the results expected, new objectives were set at the NATO summit in Prague in 2002. Heads of State and Government agreed to objectives per country and firm deadlines with a view to improving existing capabilities and developing new ones in specific areas. The Alliance introduced measures to track and review the progress made. The aim is to make sure that NATO will be able to meet its present and future operational commitments and to cope with new threats presented by terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

([5]) It is worth reading the interesting article by Jean-François Morel on this subject, "L’OTAN depuis le 11 septembre 2001 : une alliance à la recherche de nouvelles missions", Bulletin d’histoire politique, vol. 13, n° 3.

([6]) Over the past few decades, an informal group going by the name of "quad", made up of the United States, France, the United Kingdom and Germany would meet within the Alliance and help co-ordinate the action of NATO’s main allies. This group could be increased when needed, depending on the issues addressed. It has not met for a few years.

([7]) According to Le Figaro of 3/10/2005, 50 % of the generals and 25 % of the officers would be foreign.

([8]) Russia recently proposed joining in with this, which raises the question of the compatibility between partnership and participation in a collective security mission, and highlights the very difficulty of defining NATO’s role today. Remember that any European state may become a member of the Alliance according to the terms of Article X of the Washington treaty.

([9]) Richard Perle in Commentaire n° 101, printemps 2003.

© Assemblée nationale