Paris caused a stir when it confronted Europe with its responsibilities concerning international terrorism before a European summit in Brussels. “The European army exists…it’s France who bears the brunt of the load,” stated Manuel Valls, calling on the Twenty-Eight to better “share the costs.” The radical Islamist threat was reaffirmed with the attacks in Tunisia, and France clearly intends to raise the issue during the summit.
“Europe has disarmed and weakened its defenses,” explained the Prime Minister. “I noted what Jean-Claude Juncker stated several days ago about a European army. My response is simple: this army, it exists, in the state…because it’s France who bears the brunt of the load, notably in Mali and in the Sahel, to fight against terrorism.”
Manuel Valls made a similar statement before the European Commission but waited until Thursday morning to go public. “Today the responsibility of European security is not equally distributed. However my country can’t and doesn’t want to do it alone…We need to have a discussion about how we can better distribute the costs and divide them among Europeans. Europe must take responsibility.”
The question of burden sharing, concerning military capabilities and costs, has been regularly brought up by France during military operations, such as the one in Mali. Until now the response by Europeans was that the European Union could only finance operations previously agreed upon by the Twenty-Eight. The terror threat that now threatens the Mediterranean could change the situation. “France has intervened for itself, but also for all of Europe,” stated a government member.
The question has already received a favorable response from the president of the European Commission. “I am in favor of more collective support for France’s defense effort,” said Jean-Claude Juncker to Europe1. “To save Europe’s honor we need to spend money.”