February 2006 - n° 683
Since Franco-German military cooperation has always been influenced by political logic, it is reasonable to wonder whether recent events—elections in Germany and France’s rejection of the European constitution—will have an impact on security relations between the two countries. Although one may expect a reduction in cooperation due, in particular, to the electoral calendar, Franco-German ties are sufficiently strong not to be easily called into question by the vagaries of political life.
ESDP has made progress operationally with several missions in new geographical areas (Indonesia, Palestine, Darfur). The European Union’s civil and military actions have increased in number, even if most of them are of limited scope. The process of reinforcing capabilities has started. A European Security and Defence College has been created.
The emergence of new players such as India and China has provoked such a transformation in both the geo- and space-strategic fields that Europe has been obliged to take urgent steps to develop a military space programme to sustain its position on the international stage. The desire of the United States to achieve ‘space control’ or to militarise space shows the importance of military space in the conduct of external operations. Current European military space programmes are merely the fruit of an amalgamation of national resources. In this field France has always been the instigator of the European space effort, as demonstrated by the Helios II programme. If there is to be a European military space programme, it will emerge from a desire to cooperate that is shared by several EU member states, and not exclusively from the resolve of France, as has so often been the case in the past.
The financial affairs bureau of the Observatoire économique de la Defense (a French defence economic forum) published in its November 2005 edition (Ecodef no. 39) a graphical overview of defence matters; in absolute terms (spending, manpower) and in relative terms (percentage of gross domestic product, spending allocations, the ratio of defence manpower to active civil population); R&D was also covered. Read more