Monday, February 24, 2003
Franco-British Defence - 24th February 2003, 19.57

The diplomatic splits. heralded by the Americans as a division between Old and New Europe, do not appear to have entered the minds of the British and the French. Both countries submitted a joint paper to the EU foreign ministers calling for the proposed EU Rapid Reaction Force to be deployed in Bosnia from early 2004.

Whilst the continuation of an institutional link to NATO may appear surprising to Reuters, it would be surprising for France to undermine European co-operation in this area. It demonstrates that on the ground, French ambitions for an independent defence pillar for the EU remain a long-term aim and they are willing to co-operate with Britain (including a closer relationship with NATO), in order to prepare the foundations. Moreover, most EU nations form part of NATO and the French will be unable to replicate its structures at short notice. The other question mark over this exercise is the ability of Britain to contribute to the Rapid Reaction Farce given the forthcoming war in Iraq.


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