Daniel W. Drezner

Will the debt crisis strengthen European multilateralism?

Hey, remember the rest of the world? The Financial Times‘ Ben Hall and James Blitz  report on a surprising degree of defense cooperation between London and Paris: David Cameron, British prime minister, and Nicolas Sarkozy, French president, hailed their summit in London on Tuesday as an unprecedented move towards closer integration between Europe’s pre-eminent military ...

Hey, remember the rest of the world?

The Financial Times‘ Ben Hall and James Blitz  report on a surprising degree of defense cooperation between London and Paris:

David Cameron, British prime minister, and Nicolas Sarkozy, French president, hailed their summit in London on Tuesday as an unprecedented move towards closer integration between Europe’s pre-eminent military powers brought on by budgetary austerity but also a closer alignment of the two countries’ foreign policies.

They signed two treaties: one covering the sharing of technology used to maintain nuclear warheads and another on initiatives about conventional forces.

Mr. Sarkozy said the agreement to share a new research facility in France for the testing of nuclear warheads was testament to a "level of confidence between our two nations unequalled in history".

Until now, France and Britain have closely guarded the secrets of their nuclear deterrents, regarding them as the bedrock of their independence.

Mr Cameron said the two treaties would commit the French and British armed forces to working "more closely than ever before".

Paris and London also agreed to set up an "integrated carrier strike group", allowing each to fly combat aircraft from the other’s carrier once Britain has an operational ship equipped with its U.S.-built Joint Strike Fighter jets, by the beginning of the next decade. In the next 10 years, the French and British navies would centre co-operation on the Charles de Gaulle, France’s only carrier.

What’s interesting about this is not the military effects — in the end, this is about trying to do more with less — but the political ones. In a world of austerity, there is some logic in close allies working together to eliminate redundant platforms and/or other fixed costs that could be pooled across countries. Furthermore, this kind of defense integration, once started, would strike me as very hard to reverse. 

This year has seen a lot of people predicting the end of the EU and NATO as Europe struggles with its economic misfortune. I wonder, however, if hard times are actually having the opposite effect of forcing European and NATO countries closer together. This might not be popular, but it’s the only viable policy option in some instances.

 Twitter: @dandrezner

Trending Now Sponsored Links by Taboola

By Taboola

More from Foreign Policy

By Taboola