Go to the top

Franco-German Security Forum 2021

The forum took place on 23 February 2021 under the title “Thinking European Security Together” and was a great success, with over 320 participants and exciting discussions. Thanks to all who made it possible!

In case you missed the event or wanted to come back to what the discussions where about, you will find the event summary, the programme and video recordings of the conference below.

Event Summary

When it comes to European sovereignty and strategic autonomy, the topic of the Security Forum’s first debate, Emmanuel Bonne urged from the outset that there should be “no theological debates” and that we should focus above all on “what makes our own actions possible.” In President Macron’s daily diplomatic routine, he said, the question had increasingly arisen on the part of other heads of state and government such as Xi Jinping, as to what Europe and Europeans wanted. This, he said, must be taken into account; to the outside world, the differences between European countries appear much smaller than they do from an internal perspective. Niels Annen also pleaded for taking the common rather than the divisive issues as a starting point in order to formulate a joint response to foreign policy challenges.  Daniela de Ridder emphasized the need to take into account and recognize the different historical, political and demographic starting points between France and Germany in order to derive a coordinated course. Jean-Louis Bourlanges focused specifically on the Franco-German-Spanish project for the development of the FCAS air combat system. Long-term thinking is needed here, he said, and he sees it among political decision-makers as well, but industrial players are too concerned with short-term benefits. He stated that it was also in one’s own interest to take into account those of neighbouring countries, as this is the only way to ensure the success of such an ambitious project, which is scheduled to last for decades. Accordingly, Christiane Hoffmann saw “a lot of good will to overcome the difficulties, which should not be denied. “

The discussion revolved around the strategic compass, a novelty in the work of the European Union. Sabine Thillaye associated it with the hope that, unlike the EU Global Strategy, the Member States would really make it their own. Bruno Tertrais stressed that a common strategy is not a one-size-fits-all strategy and that each Member State must bring its own particularities to bear. He also stressed that the compass should point to the “breadth and depth”, i.e. that it should look at cyber and space as well as the Indo-Pacific. Wolfgang Hellmichdid not see current difficulties with the FCAS armament project as particularly serious. The Franco-German Defence and Security Council had initiated necessary, sometimes painful compromises on both sides. At the same time, there is still a long way to go towards more unified action, as the example of the Franco-German brigade in the Sahel region showed, where the French component supports the military task force Takuba, while the German part is attached to the UN mission MINUSMA. Jana Puglierin took a critical look at the alleged strategic complementarity between Germany and France and pointed out existing tensions. All panellists agreed that a European army is still a long way off, if at all. Therefore, it would be helpful to tone down the rhetoric in order to reduce the gap between aspiration and reality. Nicole Koenig summarised the current state of the strategic compass by saying that it currently still tends more towards a 360° view than a clear direction.

In a closed debate, high-ranking experts and officials discussed about lessons learned from the Franco-German cooperation in the Sahel region.


03:00 pm – 03:05 pm Welcoming remarks and introduction

Pascal Lamy, President of the Jacques Delors Centre’s Advisory Board
Dr. Katharina Emschermann, Deputy Director of the Centre for International Security, Hertie School

03:05 pm – 03:50 pm What is the next step for European sovereignty?

Niels Annen, SPD, State Minister, German Federal Foreign Minister
Emmanuel Bonne, Diplomatic Advisor to the President of the French Republic
Dr. Daniela De Ridder, SPD, Deputy President of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Bundestag
Jean-Louis Bourlanges, MoDem, President of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Assemblée nationale

Moderator: Christiane Hoffmann, Journalist and Author, Der Spiegel

04:00 pm – 04:45 pm Should the EU readjust its strategic compass?

Dr. Jana Puglierin, Head of European Council on Foreign Relations Berlin
Dr. Bruno Tertrais, Deputy Director at the Fondation pour la recherche stratégique
Sabine Thillaye, MoDem, President of the European Affairs Committee, Assemblée nationale
Wolfgang Hellmich, SPD, President of the Defense Committee, Bundestag

Moderator: Dr. Nicole Koenig, Deputy Director of the Jacques Delors Centre



By loading the video, you agree to YouTube’s privacy policy.
Learn more

Load video

Highlights from the panel discussion “Thinking European Security Together”

By loading the video, you agree to YouTube’s privacy policy.
Learn more

Load video

Video recording of the panel discussion “Should the EU readjust its strategic compass?”

Image: Daniel Brosch Source: Unsplash