The EU, French nuclear deterrence and the definition of common vital interests
By Timothée Albessard
As Brexit talks still seem to flounder, the European Union (EU) will be left with many questions that require answering to, including the military nuclear issue. Indeed, France will remain the only nuclear-weapon state within the EU. Many have wondered whether this change would dramatically impact the credibility of the EU amid a growingly hostile world, where nuclear proliferation appears to be on the rise, and arms control treaties lack political impact and true military limitation.
This question was notably raised by French President Emmanuel Macron, when delivering a speech at the École de Guerre, in February 2020. Advocating the “construction of a shared strategic culture” between member states, Mr. Macron called for a “strategic dialogue to develop with our European partners, which are ready for it, on the role played by France’s nuclear deterrence in our collective security.” Such statements did not go unnoticed, as some member states are traditionally hostile to nuclear weapons and continue to benefit from NATO’s extended nuclear deterrence. Mr. Macron’s speech has thus rekindled the flames of a lasting debate in European construction, especially about the issue of a common security policy, and France’s particular input in that matter.