At this event the Ecole de Guerre debating team debated the motion 'This House believes that France should prioritise the goal of federal European defence over the goals of the Lancaster House Treaties' against a UK consortium.
In 2010, the Lancaster House Treaties set France on a path of pursuing greater interoperability with Britain in defence-related matters. As the agreement approaches its tenth birthday, however, two largely unexpected developments have arisen which the agreement did not account for. The first is Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union: whilst the agreement is designed to operate outside of the EU’s structures, it repeatedly affirms the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy, and generally assumes a much closer relationship between Britain and Europe than seems likely under the Johnson administration. The second is that the pursuit of federalised European defence, brought back from the political dead by Emmanuel Macron, has now become an active component of France’s broader foreign policy goals.
In a world in which France plans for Europe to collaborate on its own defence, whilst at the same time Britain is becoming more isolationist, the goals of the Lancaster House Treaties and the goal of federal European defence come into conflict with one another. France can seek European defence and interoperability with Britain, but given enduring British hostility to the idea of a European army, it may not be able to have both. Whilst the two goals are not entirely mutually exclusive, this motion seeks to ask what France’s best interest is when push comes to shove. Should France solidify its relationship with the devil it knows in London, or pursue the largely untested idea of European defence?