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Project Potential of the Franco-German Defense Cooperation
Analysis and Forecasting. IMEMO Journal

Project Potential of the Franco-German Defense Cooperation

DOI: 10.20542/afij-2020-4-62-75
© Pavel P. TIMOFEEV, Maria V. KHOROLSKAYA, 2020
Received 11.12.2020
Pavel P. TIMOFEEV (p.timofeyev@gmail.com), ORCID: 0000-0002-0512-7436,
Cand. Sci. (Polit. Sci.), Senior Researcher, Sector of Regional Issues and Conflicts, Department of European Political Studies. Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow 117997, Russian Federation.
Maria V. KHOROLSKAYA (khorolskaja.marya@yandex.ru), ORCID: 0000-0002-1885-7729,
Cand. Sci. (Polit. Sci.), Researcher, Sector of Political Aspects of European Integration, Department of European Political Studies. Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow 117997, Russian Federation.

The article is devoted to the role of Franco-German tandem in the development of the European defense by 2020, including EU PESCO projects as well as bilateral initiatives outside of PESCO framework. The study uses an innovative approach applying the methods of statistical and cluster analysis to the three waves of PESCO projects. It enables to identify the contribution and the level of cooperation of the Franco-German tandem in the PESCO implementation process. It is demonstrated that besides France and Germany, EU Mediterranean states are also leading in terms of the number of projects so it would be more exact to talk about the central role of the European “big four” (France, Italy, Spain, Germany) as an engine of PESCO process. At the same time, France and Germany actively develop two ambitious bilateral projects outside of the PESCO framework – these are Future Combat Air System (FCAS) and Main Group Combat System (MGCS), the models of innovative fighter jet and tank, based on the “system of systems” principle. These projects demonstrate the two countries’ ambitious plans, although it is too early to evaluate the results since the projects are to be implemented by the mid-2030s. Nevertheless, several factors complicating the military cooperation of the two sides are identified. Those include the lack of a common approach towards conceptual issues causing the development of new weapons; the absence of a joint view on the participation of third states in French-German projects outside of PESCO (only Spain is accepted to work on FCAS, no third state is allowed to participate in MGCS construction); the competition between French and German manufacturing companies regarding the projects’ leadership and the two countries’ different export policies. Although the idea of the EU strategic autonomy promoted by the Franco-German tandem has been actively developing since 2017, today these two countries do not determine the PESCO process and do not agree on all the issues. Thus France and Germany still have a significant amount of work to do in this area.

For citation:

Timofeev P., Khorolskaya M. Project Potential of the Franco-German Defense Cooperation. Analysis & Forecasting. Journal of IMEMO, 2020, no 4, pp. 62-75. https://doi.org/10.20542/afij-2020-4-62-75

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