“Europeans cannot just be spectators,” said the French President in his keynote speech on the defense strategy – they should do more to defend themselves. In return, it promises more transparency.

French President Emmanuel Macron has proposed a joint European initiative for an “international arms control agenda”. France will work with its European allies to lay the foundations for a common international strategy, Macron said in a keynote speech on his country’s future nuclear weapons doctrine. European partner countries could take part in corresponding French military exercises, said the French President in Paris. 

European countries are unlikely to become “viewers” in the face of a possible nuclear arms race. Europeans would have to understand that “in the absence of a legal framework” they could soon experience a new arms race with conventional and even nuclear weapons “on their soil,” said Macron looking at the United States’ exit from the INF treaty with Russia Limitation of medium-range missiles that can be equipped with nuclear weapons.

France the only nuclear power in the EU

As the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, each French president traditionally delivers such a speech once during the five-year term. Numerous guests attended the appointment in Paris, including prospective French officers and military personnel from many nations.

France Marine l Macron visits the submarine Le Terrible (Getty Images / AFP / Contributor)The French nuclear submarine “Le Terrible”

France has been the only nuclear power in the European Union since the Brexit. The country has had around 300 nuclear warheads so far, ranking third worldwide behind Russia and the United States. However, as Macron emphasized in his speech, France has recently reduced its nuclear arsenal. It now has less than 300 nuclear warheads.

Before Macron’s appearance, Paris already rejected the initiative by the Berlin faction of the Union to put its nuclear deterrence under the joint command of the EU or NATO. That is not possible with the current state of international relations. “One decision-maker is necessary.” This is traditionally the head of state in France.

Joint EU command?

Union faction vice Johann Wadephul had pleaded at the beginning of the week for cooperation between the two core EU countries to build a common European deterrent to nuclear weapons. “Germany should be ready to participate in this nuclear deterrent with its capabilities and resources. In return, France should put it under the joint command of the EU or NATO,” the CDU politician had told the “Tagesspiegel”.

Buechel Air Base (picture-alliance / dpa)Bundeswehr Air Force Tornado fighter jets at Büchel Air Base in the Eifel (archive image)

Macron has long advocated a European defense that is more independent and therefore more independent of the United States. The problem: American atomic bombs are stored in several EU countries and may be targeted by the air forces of these countries. In Germany, for example, there are around 20 atomic bombs stationed at Büchel Air Base, which will soon be modernized.


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