Wednesday 8th December 2010
The four Parliamentary defence committees of the United Kingdom and France have set up an informal parliamentary working group on bilateral defence cooperation between the two countries.
The first meeting of this group was held at the French Senate on Wednesday 8th December 2010 in the presence of:
- representing the House of Commons: Mr James Arbuthnot, Chairman of the Defence Committee and Mr Dai Havard, Vice-Chairman;
- representing the House of Lords: Lord Teverson, Chairman of the European Union Sub-Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Development Policy, and Lord Sewel
- representing the French National Assembly: Mr Guy Teissier, President of the Defence Committee, Mrs Patricia Adam and Mr Marc Joulaud;
- representing the French Senate: Mr Josselin de Rohan, President of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Armed Forces Committee, Mr Xavier Pintat and Mr Daniel Reiner.
The purpose of the working group is to keep track of bilateral defence cooperation between the two countries, studying the implementation of the bilateral treaties signed at the Franco-British Summit of 2nd November, and discussing all defence and security issues that are of interest to both countries.
Since the Saint Malo Summit in 1996, and the creation of a high level group piloted by the French Délégué Général à l’Armement and his British counterpart, cooperation between the two countries has clearly been strengthened. Nevertheless more must be done. With the accumulated economic and financial constraint combined with budgetary restrictions, our efforts must be combined still further. Currently, both countries wish to strengthen their cooperation significantly in a pragmatic way.
This deepening of relations requires parliamentary monitoring through which the French and British Parliamentary Defence Committees will be able to participate thanks to the information they receive, analyse and share, in this essential rapprochement.
The two countries together represent 40% of military expenditure in Europe and 50% of equipment. Franco-British cooperation is therefore a fundamental and essential component of our sovereignty and our military independence, and therefore, too, of the autonomy of our foreign policy.
After deciding how the group would function, the Group heard a presentation by Mr Laurent Collet-Billon, Délégué Général de l’Armement. A lunch was organised, attended by Admiral Edouard Guillaud, Joint Chief of Staff. The meeting ended with a visit to the French Joint Planning and Operations Center.
The Group will meet twice a year, alternately in France and the United Kingdom. They selected two working themes for 2011:
- the transition in Afghanistan
- cooperation on drones
The next meeting of the Working Group will take place in London, at the end of the first half of 2011.
At the French Senate : Olivier Delamare Deboutteville, clerk of the Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Armed Forces Committee, [email protected]
At the French National Assembly: Catherine Babelon, clerk of the Defence Committee, [email protected]
At the House of Lords: Kathryn Colvin, clerk of the European Union Sub-Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Development Policy, [email protected]
At the House of Commons: Georgina Holmes-Skelton, second clerk of the Defence Committee, [email protected]