We need a European Security and Defence Union – and it is what our citizens want. This narrative has accompanied recent Franco-German and European efforts to foster closer cooperation on security and defence. But what in fact do French and German citizens actually want?
The policy paper by Nicole Koenig, senior research fellow at the Jacques Delors Institute – Berlin, addresses this question by analysing recent French and German opinion poll data. It shows that, since 2014, German and French perceptions of key security challenges and their geographic origins have converged. Support for closer European security and defence cooperation has risen, both with regard to the EU and NATO. Meanwhile, the French and the Germans have become more positive towards higher defence expenditure. However, attitudes continue to differ concerning the effectiveness and legitimacy of the use of force.
When implementing the European Security and Defence Union, decision-makers will have to do more to explain it to their citizens and remain in close exchange with their EU counterparts concerning its strategic objectives.