Common Security and Defence Policy as France’s Winning Strategy ? Evidence from Recent Experience
Volume 18, Issue 1 (2020), pp. 23–44
Pub. online: 1 December 2020 Type: Article Open Access
1 December 2020
1 December 2020
France’s status as a conventional power makes Paris an inevitable actor in the context of Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). Insofar France is considered as a staunch protagonist of the EU/European strategic autonomy and an opponent against the US/NATO dominance in Europe, the most recent CSDP progress may be expected to belong to the merits of French decision-makers. Based on a closer analytical look, however, CSDP is not reducible to a coherent outcome of French interests. At the EU level, the French influence turns out to be limited. A strong ideological attachment of this EU Member State to sovereign politics and a consequential lack of commitment to common issues of defence and security may be viewed as an impediment to the materialisation of a more significant clout of Paris on the communitarian scale. Yet relevant limits are predominantly a structural consequence, which is a pattern enhanced by the current dynamics in global politics. This makes one consider France’s status as a “system-influencing state” more cautiously. In a sense, the paper takes issue with the literature on the recent CSDP progress as an expression of political and policy convergence and re-focuses attention on manners in which inter-European dynamics can shed light on positions of individual members.