France calls very existence of European Defence Fund a "paradigm shift"

Defence – Turkey/NATO/European Union – Excerpts from the introductory remarks by Mme Florence Parly, Minister for the Armed Forces, before the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Security and Defence

Strasbourg, 2 July 2020

(Check against delivery)

Over the past three years, we have seen the security situation severely deteriorate.

I’d like to turn my attention for a moment to Turkey’s very worrying behaviour. France and Turkey are both participating in NATO’s maritime security operation Sea Guardian in the eastern Mediterranean, one of whose missions consists in providing maritime surveillance to combat trafficking. This comes at a time when the United Nations has imposed an embargo on weapons deliveries to Libya. A fortnight ago, while a French ship was checking a suspicious freighter from Turkey, Turkish frigates interfered and one of them illuminated – as we say in military speak – the French ship with its fire-control radar. This was an aggressive act unworthy of a NATO ally.

So I made this very clear at the last NATO ministerial meeting. Many of my European counterparts supported me and I thank them. We’re supposed to be an alliance. It’s unacceptable for an ally consciously to violate the rules which the Alliance is supposed to enforce and try to threaten those who question it. We’ve therefore made four requests so that this type of incident isn’t repeated: a solemn reaffirmation that the embargo will be complied with; a categorical rejection of Turkey’s use of NATO call signs to carry out trafficking operations; more effective cooperation between the EU and NATO; and deconfliction mechanisms. Pending clarifications on these various points, the French President took the decision to withdraw French resources devoted to Sea Guardian until further notice. (…)

Defence Europe is different from the idea of a European army. Defence Europe is about being fully free to take European action. It’s about being capable, when we need to be and if we so wish, to act together.

We have the resources; what we need is to turn them into means, and above all to have the will to use those means in the service of Europe’s interests and values. Europe cannot and must not be a game of structures: it must become an enterprise of substance, a driving force.

In this unforgiving world, we must create the means to build European freedom of action. These means include the European Defence Fund. Here too, there has been progress. A few years ago, it was still unthinkable for Europe to inject money into the defence field. The very existence of the European Defence Fund is a paradigm shift, a revolution. For the first time, European funds will be devoted to developing our European DIB. The European Commission proposed to endow it with €13 billion over the period 2021-2027. The Finnish presidency wanted to reduce this proposal to €6.5 billion. I firmly opposed this, and several European partners and I played an active role in reviewing this sum upwards. We’ve now succeeded in obtaining €9 billion. My view is that more is needed, and France, Germany, Spain and Italy have therefore written to the High Representative and the other European Union defence ministers: we need an ambitious European Defence Fund, and today more than ever. (…)

We know that in order to protect our citizens, we have a great need for Europe. And it’s more than a need, it’s an opportunity we must grasp.

I strongly believe in our shared destiny. And I hope that, one day, committing oneself to one’s country to the point of “dying for it and for Europe” isn’t, as Milan Kundera said, a phrase that can only have meaning in Warsaw or Budapest, but that it can also be uttered in Paris, Tallinn, Berlin or Madrid./.

Published on 06/07/2020

top of the page