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European Issue n°233

Achieving results is a team effort: a comparative study of decision making processes in France and Germany regarding security crisis management

Achieving results is a team effort: a comparative study of decision making processes in France and Germany regarding security crisis management


In response to security crises cooperation between France and Germany, which is a "powerful factor of influence", is required in particular. However in this area the two countries differ due to their structures, procedures and cultures. As an example the German political system gives preference to endurance, whilst France is more oriented towards responsiveness; France privileges steering and the creation of specialised entities, whilst Germany favours coordination and consensus between the various organisations involved. However, both share the same vision of crisis management based on "a comprehensive approach", i.e. a coherent approach that combines varied tools, in a multi-lateral framework with particular attention being given to the prevention of conflict. Five main recommendations are put forward to strengthen Franco-German cooperation: developing mutual knowledge of the institutional mechanisms in force with regard to crisis management; comparing the two systems to learn from each respectively; thinking about common decision making criteria; defining a joint pre-decisional analysis grid and making use of the permanent structured cooperation principle that is part of the Lisbon Treaty.
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On the occasion of the 12th Franco-German Council of Ministers on 4th February 2010, the President of the Republic and the Chancellor of the Federal Republic adopted the text for an agenda which set out far-reaching cooperation perspectives. The preamble eloquently sets out the framework and the objectives: France and Germany share the same vision of their future for 2020. The declaration in Agenda 2020 formulates guidelines that are divided into six parts: the economy, resources, training, security, society, institutions. This analysis focuses on the fourth part, whose main themes come under the title: Foreign Policy, Defence, Security. This is a comparative study of the decision making processes both in France and Germany and it aims to define the means to improve cooperation between the two countries in terms of managing security crises.

Security crisis management brings a comprehensive strategy into play that relies on both national structures and multi-national network. However in an international context Franco-German cooperation is a powerful element of influence if it is planned at an extremely early stage. This is all the more true since a crisis strategy has to fit into a complex set of interactions between political, economic, social and environmental elements. It is not an easy process since diplomats, the military, and economists are not trained in the same way. It is vital then to implement decision making methods that are well understood.

From a schematic point of view crisis management should include several sets of action that are chronologically ordered according to a range of operation lines, which themselves target a political goal. But in this area France and Germany differ from a structural, procedural and cultural point of view. Both countries also reason according to their character, national tradition and international status. It follows then that if Paris and Berlin want to work together this means coordination in the decision making process. This is why our similarities and differences have to be analysed so that the synergy of our joint work together can be strengthened in a comprehensive strategy.

1. National Decision Making Systems and how they Work

A people's soul lies equally in its geography and its history. Both of these factors have turned France into a centralised, presidential State and Germany into a federal, parliamentary State. Their approach in dealing with security crises has been influenced by this. This has to be taken into account in a spirit of dialogue.

1.1. Government and Parliament

The decision making processes launched during the management of a security crisis must meet the dual requirement of legitimacy and efficacy. In terms of the respect of either one or the other of these, the institutions which manage them can however be quite different in nature. In France the way public authorities are organised clearly points to action; it is guarantee of responsiveness. In Germany government mechanisms rest primarily on adherence; it is a guarantee of endurance. These two aspects are sometimes presented in a contradictory light because not much is known about how they are compensated for. Indeed Berlin has shown the way in terms of responsiveness: in December 2001, after a proposal was made by the Cabinet, within a seven hour time-span, the Bundestag had approved the Bundeswehr's participation in the ISAF mission (International Security Assistance Force) in Afghanistan [1]. And Paris has shown the way in terms of endurance: in 2003 France came to the aid of French citizens in Côte d'Ivoire, then it gradually transferred its mission over to the UN, which finally led to elections in November 2010.

In terms of security the French Constitution includes three fundamental articles [2], which sets out the responsibilities of the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister and the Government. The National Defence and Security Council (CDSN), an historically established institution, whose status [3] was reformulated to adapt to strategic developments, is directly built on these three articles. Its purpose is to define guidelines in terms of military programming, dissuasion and the conduct of external operations and the planning of responses to major crises. It is chaired by the President of the Republic. The matching General Secretariat (SGDSN) is a department run by the Prime Minister and coordinates interministerial work relative to security policy. In particular it monitors the development of crises and conflicts, and it is also involved in the international negotiations that linked to these. Quite clearly then it is the executive which decides on intervention. However parliament is involved thanks to measures set out in the new article 35: it has to be informed within a three-day time-span; beyond four months it has to be called upon to provide its go-ahead.

In Germany it is the Fundamental law and the ensuing interpretation of this that frame the use of the armed forces (articles 24, 26 and 87a). In this area and except in the case of legitimate defence, the decisions taken by the Cabinet are still subject to the Bundestag's approval. Moreover, there is no real mechanism devoted to this type of decision. In 1955 when Germany joined the North Atlantic Alliance (NATO) after the allied administration was abolished, Konrad Adenauer founded "Security Council" (Bundessicherheitsrat) comprising nine members including the Chancellor, the head of the Chancellery, the Foreign and Defence Ministers and on request the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces. However its impact was soon reduced to the arms export policy. Several initiatives were then taken in a bid to provide the Council with the responsibilities of its original purpose again: in 1998, in the SPD-Greens coalition government [4] contract; in 2006, in a study by the Federal College for Security Studies [5] (BAKS); in 2008, in a resolution [6] on the part of the Christian-Democratic Union (CDU) and the Christian Social Union (CSU). The BAKS put an ambitious solution forward, which would have given the Chancellor the power to play a key role in terms of crisis management but which meant a modification of the Fundamental Law. These attempts came to nought because they encountered prerogative opposition.

In compensation the German administration established systematic communication flow between the ministries and the parliamentary committees, and so the Cabinet and the Bundestag both work closely together. Based on a strict administrative document [7], this permanent dialogue extends beyond a ritual of reports and hearings. It creates a kind of emulation in the definition of reasons and options. Apart from these rules of communication, parliamentarians take part in reconnaissance missions in the analysis phase of a procedure. Hence a mission report by an opposition MP (Nachtwei, 9th May 2006 [8]) was of decisive influence over the Bundestag's approval (Drucksache 17th May 2006 [9]) in support of Germany's participation in the EU operation in Congo. An approach like this leads to acceptance within the Bundestag, which provides significant support to the government's work and its line of argument in the media. However parliamentary oversight procedures will undoubtedly have to develop towards improved integration of the international aspect of crises, when they require rapid response.

1.2. The Interministerial Mechanism

Today it is established that security crisis management demands close inter-ministerial coordination. In Germany the White Paper on Security Policy (2006) stipulates this as follows [10]: What is called for is an all-embracing approach that can only be developed in networked security structures based on a comprehensive national and global security rationale. In France, the White Paper on defence and national security (2008) expresses matters in a similar way [11]: The complexity of international crises calls for strategies embracing all of the different instruments-diplomatic,financial, social, cultural and military-not only in the crisis prevention and management phases proper, but also in the stabilisation and post-conflict reconstruction phases.

In terms of national structures the recognition of the same principles leads however to different solutions, the legacy of the form of the institutions and administrative tradition. Given the demand for synergy the French approach plays on the integration of ministerial competences within a specific, responsible structure, whilst the German approach plays on the contribution on the part of the competent ministries which come to agreement within a committee. In France a system directed at the exercise of steering and arbitration powers dominates. Because of its rational nature the system lends itself to reflection, and like any mechanism, it is useful when there is no friction. In Germany an approach in which there is great focus on the respect of attributions dominates. Conciliation between departments is not the result of directives, but of guidelines and missions. This working method implies a communication network and supervision. The distinction between the two systems is not of course absolute, but it has to be acknowledged in bilateral cooperation. The first gives preference to decision taking and runs the risk of inflexibility, the second gives preference to consensus and runs the risk of half-heartedness.

The Foreign and European Affairs Ministry's (FEAM) White Paper recommends greater coherence on the part of France's external action and also for more inter-ministerial work [12]. It pleads in support of the dual facility of synthesis and coordination, whilst rejecting the demand for monopoly, which would be illusory, and yet asserting the Prime Minister's responsibility in terms of arbitration. This new guideline is interesting with regard to crisis management. On the one hand it has led to the definition of an inter-ministerial strategy for external civilian-military crisis management, led by the FEAM in the shape of a steering committee and a task force [13]. The definition of this strategy was achieved in close coordination with the SGDSN and Foreign Affairs. Moreover it has led to a merger within a general department of globalisation, development and partnerships, of the entities responsible for economic affairs, development strategies, economic governance and the management of world goods. Finally it has led to some adjustments in the defence cooperation policy, which should in turn lead to greater inclusion and finally be more convincing within the European Union.

In Germany the organisation of inter-ministerial cooperation structures encounters two types of opposition. Firstly the ministries' "department principle" (Ressortprinzip) provides them with a great amount of autonomy in managing their own affairs. The Chancellor can give them general guidelines (Richtlinien), but not instructions (Weisungen). Then, strict management rules governing military intervention provide the military with exclusive competence. Structural problems are however relativised thanks to facilities of method. One of the principles is based on the overarching idea relative to crises entitled "Civil crisis prevention, conflict settlement and peace consolidation". This plan entails several fields that are divided into over 150 basic lines of action. Committee work supports its implementation that is the focus of reports and recommendations. By way of their representatives in a coordination council (Ressortkreis) chaired by Foreign Affairs, the ministries agree on their initiatives regarding the guidelines laid out in the action plan. Another recent measure was the appointment, within the operational planning HQ at the Defence Ministry, of experts responsible for immediate coordination with the ministry from whence they came. Hence the definition of military means of action is immediately able to integrate all aspects of inter-ministerial activity.

1.3. The International Context

One of the biggest challenges, when it seems that intervention by the armed forces is necessary, is the dialogue between the national government and the international institutions. It reflects the specific nature of the national organisations and can be a source of misunderstanding. Hence the Germans, who are attached to the Bundestag's right to refrain and find the French impulsive. The French, who are confident in their regalian institutions, think the Germans timid. However if we compare our interests and duties in terms of security, our idea of it is the same, give or take a few differences in vocabulary. Hence article 24 (2) of the Fundamental law only plans for external operations within the context of a collective security system, mainly therefore, the UN, NATO and the EU, except in the case of citizen protection. It is agreed that this prescription does not exist in France but the application of legitimacy standards almost comes down to the same thing.

It remains that dialogue between national decision making bodies and the international framework is not as easy for Berlin because of the Bundestag's prerogatives. Hence the Bundeswehr's commitment to an intervention by rapid response forces, the NRF (NATO Response Force) or the EU's Battlegroups is likely to encounter MP's opposition. But again it is via the method and not the system that difficulties are settled and thanks to the obligatory communication flow set up between the Federal Government and Parliament.

However to overcome structural differences and take best advantage of Franco-German cooperation within international organisations it is necessary to agree early on intervention criteria. Indeed the definition of these comes upstream in the decision making process and does not depend on its form. Here we have the key to our initiatives in terms of the timing of crisis management, which is always tight. In Germany many studies have been devoted to this question [14]. They reveal two main points: legality/legitimacy, and necessity/responsibility. In France, the White Paper on security speaks of a series of comparable "key principles" [15]. Joint thought on the range of these criteria would already set one of the keystones for an EU White Paper.

Beyond the fundamental criteria of legitimacy and necessity Paris and Berlin ought to look into criteria of overall efficacy that reflect the choice of intervention framework. Of course in the likely involvement of the EU, dialogue would be necessary but it none the more desirable in the other instances. From this point of view the spirit of multilateralism leads to the smoothing over of differences. The distribution of tasks goes unchallenged: NATO is managing Afghanistan, the UN is involved in Lebanon, the EU is acting in Africa. Beyond this task sharing the trend today leans towards the composition of cooperative systems. In its own way Germany's highly criticised abstention from the vote on resolution 1973 within the Security Council illustrates major divergence over "the responsibility to protect" but the Chancellor's attitude was unreservedly included in the approval of joint institutional action [16].

1.4. Recommendations for institutional cooperation.

In a constantly changing strategic environment the permanent nature of the institutions has its merits, but they cannot remain static either. Hence in Germany decision making mechanisms might be set in support of more direct intervention on the part of the executive and inter-ministerial debate. They do however work according to excellent cooperative work procedures and the Bundestag's role is significant in winning support. In France the structure of the decision making bodies has undeniable assets but inter-ministerial coherence mechanisms are not yet well established. Moreover, Parliament's working time does not match the urgency of crises.

In any event, in terms of crisis management, Franco-German cooperation does not need identical structures. However mutual recognition, with the risks this entails, does not guarantee a reduction in tension. In these conditions we need to go back to the origins of any decision, i.e. its criteria. As a result our bilateral cooperation must start with joint reflexion that would lead to the joint consolidation of the base of our political decisions and greater public support because there is proof that we are thinking as one. This is also why parliaments should be involved.

From a practical point of view this suggests the creation of Franco-German reflexion groups which would have two goals: on the one hand the establishment of a positive comparison of our respective systems; on the other the proposal of a series of rational, fundamental intervention criteria. This would mean, to say the least, the removal of some clichés which are sometimes rather surprising, the best of these being about Libya – when it said that an extremely high placed person in German Foreign Affairs [17], pretended that the Anglo-French decision was inspired in the satisfaction of taking revenge over the frustration caused by the Suez Crisis in 1956.

2. Strategic Intervention Concepts and their Implementation

When taking a decision there has to be harmony between the ends and the means. France and Germany today share the same system of values, interests and concepts but still differ in terms of method, means and capabilities. A gradual rapprochement is possible and this would enhance their sphere of influence.

2.1. Identical concepts: the comprehensive, multilateral approach

Globalisation continues to advance in a multipolar system that is still far from achieving its point of equilibrium. This instability is a twofold challenge for the world – comprising values and order. As a result democratic nations, whose interests are based on a human and social value system, logically plead in support of the exercise of order regulated by principles of governance. This is true in terms of security as well as in the area of economy and finance in which we have already had the sad experience of weak regulation. However this type of governance demands three conditions which are the respect of the principles of legitimacy, the quest for multilateral consensus and the development of a comprehensive strategy. This is what the European Security Strategy (2003) asserts at base when its sets the goal of "international order based on effective multilateralism" [18].

In Germany the security policy is in line with this perspective and is seen as an overall security policy based on four principles [19]. It is explicitly based on a spirit of multilateralism. It recommends coherent action by all players involved. It calls for the implementation of a wide range of instruments including diplomacy, the armed forces, the rule of law and the economy. Finally it includes the idea of prevention at each stage of a crisis, i.e. before, during and afterwards. These concepts have become established over time until they have now become the government's refrain in international spheres. The Federal Chancellor confirmed this again during her 2009 speech at the Security Conference in Munich: "We have come to believe that the idea of "network security" is the answer to security challenges in the 21st century. Prevention, just like crisis management, must be based on a series of measures that bring together policy, development, the police, sometimes culture, and naturally the armed forces, when this is necessary."

France takes the same approach, the main ideas of which are laid out in the White Paper on Security (2008) and the White Paper on Foreign Policy (2008) [20].  These are major decisions that guide the security policy towards a combination of diplomatic, defence, security and economy tools. These guidelines clearly come from the supreme office, according to the terms set out in the preface written by the President of the Republic in the White Paper on Security: "The goal I set for the whole nation is to adapt this tool completely to the challenges of the 21st century." As in Germany the White Paper includes prevention in the overall security strategy on a level with anticipation, intervention, protection and dissuasion.

Undoubtedly the most explicit assertion of our closeness in terms of an overall, multilateral approach is to be found in the joint article by Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel that was published in Le Monde and the Süddeutsche Zeitung in February 2009: "A joint security policy is absolutely necessary. We must adapt our concepts: to respond to crises and conflicts we need a comprehensive approach, stronger partnerships and flexible tools." In truth the novelty in this joint declaration is the common understanding of the terms of international cooperation, which "we are developing via Franco-German cooperation that is ever closer within the EU and NATO." At that time France was about to reintegrate NATO's command structure and confirmed its choice on NATO's 60th anniversary. This decision significantly strengthened the quality of Franco-German cooperation because it has led to the dissipation of misunderstandings caused by a position that would impede both the EU moving forwards as it would hold up reform of NATO. It creates an opportunity for real cooperation between the EU and NATO which Berlin has been pleading for years.

2.2. A disparity in method: how can a State be rebuilt?

The idea of a comprehensive approach aims to guarantee the prevention or resolution of a crisis thanks to a synergy of action undertaken in the areas of security, governance and development. France and Germany do not differ over the fundamental nature of this idea nor over the multilateral context of its implementation. However the implementation of corresponding strategies depends on the ability to combine these three features. But our countries differ greatly, not really from a military point of view, but in terms of the instruments they use to promote governance and to support development. Here are two typical examples:

The first involves Germany's support action in the re-building of a fragile State via the re-establishment of governance structures. One of the lessons learned in the recent crises has been the need to ensure continuity between immediately vital military action and the progressive re-establishment of the rule of law. The second stage is the responsibility of the police forces but often requires the application of transition measures in an unstable environment. On the one hand the start of the pacification phase calls for the close cooperation of the police forces and the military. On the other the police force must enjoy an executive mandate, i.e. the mission to act instead and in place of the host nation. These two types of measure would be the responsibility of the gendarmerie and initially seem incompatible with the rules of separation between the military and civilian registers in Germany. The result of this is an embarrassing reticence in terms of the credibility of national action in a multinational context.

However as a study by the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) [21] shows these obstacles could be removed. In one sense the rules of separation set out in the Fundamental Law apply to the German territory but not necessarily to external operations. Moreover practical solutions are to hand, either by arming police detachments, or by extending the legal powers of the military police. Hence in Afghanistan the German government has set up a training scheme for the Afghan police comprising Feldjäger (military police) and civilian police in equal numbers. The dispatch of this kind of force now should to be submitted to Parliament's approval.

The second example involves France's support work to development. Given the challenges presented by external action the White Paper on Foreign Policy sets out France's advantages as being its experience in peacekeeping missions, the quality of the political-military interface, its aptitude in managing the complexity of a crisis and its military cooperation measures. However, it recommends a review of the doctrines of stabilisation and development [22]. In this sense the Foreign Ministry is confirmed in terms of its regalian functions of democratic governance, military cooperation, support to security, post-conflict stabilisation and humanitarian aid. Nevertheless a great amount of autonomy has been granted to the French Development Agency (AFD) to undertake the implementation of development aid as part of a policy defined by the ministry.

However features of the AFD are fundamentally different from its German equivalent, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit [23] (GIZ). Indeed the AFD's main powers lie in its financial competences. It does not manage projects but funds them via a variety of instruments (subsidies, guarantees, equity investment, subsidised loans etc ...) Its main activities are in Africa and around the Mediterranean. It employs 1,500 people, two-thirds of whom are in France. The main framework only seconds 140 people abroad, i.e. 15% of its personnel. Conversely the GIZ's work covers the aspects of capacity building via consulting and project management. It employs 18,000 people, 80% of whom work abroad. As an example in Kosovo where the AFD was not present, the GIZ works closely with NATO forces.  In Afghanistan is has an extremely constructive role supporting 430 projects that are spread over ten areas such as energy, education, healthcare, administration, IT etc ....

2.3. Recommendations for functional cooperation

The idea of a comprehensive approach to crisis management has not suddenly emerged. Germany was one of the instigators, quite aptly calling it "network security". This idea has found particular resonance within the European Union, which has all the tools for its implementation. It did face the problem of the separation of pillars, which has now been overcome thanks to the Lisbon Treaty, likewise the difficulty in reconciling military and civilian planning structures, which should progressively be overcome in the wake of the creation of the CMPD [24] (Crisis Management and Planning Directorate). NATO's new strategic concept also favours a comprehensive approach by way of strategic partnerships with international organisations, and primarily together with the EU.

It is also a question of political will as well as method and means. But we can see surprising disparity between nations. In spite of a basic agreement on principles a disparity in means has become apparent between France and Germany. It clearly appears either in the police forces or in development functions and this affects decisions regarding crisis management strategies. Indeed Paris is better equipped to engage its force to the benefit of the law. Conversely, Berlin is better prepared to intervene by development for the benefit of justice. The comparison of our measures and our best practices should therefore be encouraged so that we can draw closer. The various studies that have been undertaken already bear witness to growing awareness of this.

Inadequate knowledge of each other's systems has to be corrected via the organisation of visits and exchange. Both countries would discover sources of mutual inspiration. But this is not enough. We must remember that the idea of a comprehensive approach is key to our security strategies. This supposes the wise prescription of the means to the ends. It would therefore be useful to somewhat structure our strategies according to an agreed base so that France and Germany function together in terms of procedures and also in terms of the timing of their action.

3. Outlook for Franco-German Cooperation

If the same vision is shared preference has to be given to substance rather than form and tools have to be shaped to match ambition. It is also vital to keep on target: France and Germany must be central in developing the European Security Policy, NATO and the OSCE (Agenda 2020, chapter 4).

3.1. A basis for renaissance

Due to its intense and diverse nature Franco-German cooperation is without equal in the international arena. It is based on fundamental institutions such as the Council of Franco-German Ministers, the Franco-German Defence and Security Council and the Franco-German Economic and Financial Council. Therefore there is a framework in which to undertake all types of bilateral debate, both theoretical and practical, regarding security crisis management. This is all the more true since over the last few years Paris and Berlin's political orientations have led to the convergence of their approach to crisis management. In particular the concept of the comprehensive approach has been harmonised in the strategies of Paris, Berlin, the EU and NATO. From this point of view credit should be given to France for its decision to participate fully in NATO's command structures, as Germany should be commended for the extension of its commitment [25] in military crisis management operations.

These two trends have removed the remaining impediments that prevented effective cooperation in the new strategic environment. The perspectives of a reform of the UN's Security Council in which France is supporting the attribution of a permanent seat to Germany, is another potential point of convergence. And if we consider one of the major axes of the UN's work for peace, i.e. the African continent, the positions of both France and Germany have surprisingly drawn closer together. There is no reason why France's new policy with regard to Africa, together with a review of the defence agreements should now be regarded with suspicion by Berlin. Conversely Germany, which was once extremely reserved, is committing to support Africa via peace initiatives [26]. Our commitments should therefore develop as part of a strategic partnership between the EU and Africa. Although France and Germany's security strategies today are based on the same foundations, two types of difference – both institutional and functional – may still hold up our cooperation in security crisis management.

3.2. Looking into criteria rather than structures

From an institutional point of view, at the risk of being a little brief, we have seen that the implementation of decision making processes are typified in France by a system logic and in Germany by a function logic. With the National Defence and Security Council France has a remarkable arbitration tool. Moreover the quality of its information and the communication of its action should soon enjoy the advantages of the establishment of inter-ministerial steering bodies. In Germany inter-ministerial coordination functions in a practical manner. The action plan for crisis management, the strategic concept for Afghanistan, the functioning of the cooperation agency (GIZ) all bear witness to this. Likewise, the recent formation of a sub-committee in the Bundestag under the name of "Network Security and Crisis Prevention" shows that Parliament acts in tandem with the government. In brief, the French governmental system functions in a centralised manner working towards the exercise of arbitration. Different departments in the German government join forces in a practical manner to take decisions based on the strength of acceptance.

Can we say that these differences would really impede Franco-German cooperation over security? Certainly not. Far from being an inflexible national heritage, government structures have to evolve, as the EU Treaty recommends in its protocol on permanent structured cooperation [27]: Member States which participate in permanent structured cooperation commit (...) to taking concrete steps to enhance (...) the flexibility and deployment capabilities of their forces including the possible re-examination of the national decision making procedures. More over it is the very focus of the first recommendation in this study – friction which might arise during cooperation must be overcome beforehand via joint work on the wide spectrum of the most important intervention criteria in the event of a crisis. This work would then be used as the keystone for a future EU White Paper on security.

3.3. Adapting means for the benefit of concepts

From a functional point of view the French and German approach to concepts is the same but they differ in terms of the instruments they use. In crisis management the comprehensive approach, which both Paris and Berlin adhere to, comprises the design of a strategy that rests on three pillars – security, governance and development. However France and Germany's instruments, like the lines on spectrographic images, are not spread in the same way. In France for example, cooperation work in the areas of defence and security occupies an important position under the management of the General Political Affairs Department at the Foreign Affairs Ministry [28]. Another advantage comprises the strength of the gendarmerie which enables intervention within the spectrum of missions taken on by a military police force – mid-way between security and governance. This is lacking in Germany, which conversely, has a remarkable development aid tool, via the joint action of ministries and the cooperation institute (GIZ), that can provide concrete aid to a wide variety of projects. Hence in areas under reconstruction such as the Balkans or Afghanistan, Germany has influence that receives greater acknowledgement, all the more because three quarters of its aid budget bears a national signature in comparison with one quarter in France [29].

However it seems that beyond a basic agreement on concepts, the decision making processes applied to crisis management depend greatly on the means available in terms of the continuous cycle of security, governance and development. No one doubts that a comparison of "good practice" would lead to adaptation on the part of Germany in terms of its police capabilities and on the part of France in support to development. Paris and Berlin would then work better together which would then be to the benefit of all of Europe.

3.4. Financial Aspects

To conclude, apart from institutional and functional considerations, the financial aspect of these interventions, be it in the prevention, management or stabilisation phases, cannot be ignored. Although the political dimension dominates the decision making process, the economic crisis is ongoing and suggests the need for rapprochement and synergy. With this in mind we should look into the idea of permanent structured cooperation within the EU which plans for cooperation in view of achieving agreed goals regarding the level  of investment spending in terms of defence equipment ...   (protocol n°10, article 2a). But at present it is difficult to motivate Member States on this issue. Another approach would be based on the role given to the European Commission to give an opinion on the way draft national budgets respect the stability and growth pact. Indeed it is not satisfactory that within the EU there should be too much inequality in terms of defence spending. France and Germany might agree to make proposals on this subject by way of the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who is also Vice-President of the Commission. Her dual function allows her to combine security and economic aspects. At present there are a great many recommendations being made for better coordinated economic, financial and social policies. Likewise defence investment levels and defence industry cooperation cannot be omitted from this progressive movement towards integration.

4. Recommendations in Brief

Because of its knock-on effect Franco-German cooperation finds all of its value in the pertinence of its joint trajectory. The economic and financial crisis, ongoing over the last three years, has proven this. And the same law governs decisions taken in security crisis management. But there is no need to change dialogue structures to this end, we just have to give it some extra measure. With this in mind if we attempt to draw up a ranking, five main themes emerge on which work must be concentrated.

The first would be to foster mutual knowledge of how our respective institutions function. In sum, the French system employs a steering facility and gives preference to responsiveness. The German system works in a network and is based on consensus. We should consider this as an established fact. It suggests that adaptation is necessary, but this does not mean upheaval and this must be respected. This knowledge and respect will become elements of confidence.

It is in the concrete area of means of action, more than in terms of institutions, that comparative work might call for change. It is agreed that crisis management is based on the principles of a comprehensive, therefore inter-ministerial approach that rallies aspects of security, governance and development. However France and Germany each have strengths and weaknesses in these areas. A rigorous comparison would provide some functional information.

Apart from the institutional and functional points of view, we should look jointly into the major criteria governing decision making in times of crisis. We might object that these criteria can only be assessed in the light of circumstance. But when we look at the tension that occurred in the preparatory phase of the EU's operation in the Congo, or the differences in opinion over the "responsibility to protect" principle during the Libyan crisis, it is clear that in-depth thought about this would be useful. It should involve members of government and parliamentarians.

In order to gain control over variations in circumstance during the analysis of situations France and Germany should agree on a pre-decision analysis framework. Of course strategic planning steps are well established within the EU and NATO. But the pre-decision phase is still rather more instinctive and too national. Joint organisational work would dissipate all suspicion that sometimes emerges when there is haste, during processing or when obstacles arise.

These are the advantages that we might draw from the simple exercise of virtue based on knowledge, comparison, reflexion and organisation. A fifth theme might be explored via the resolute implementation of the permanent structured cooperation principle that is part of the Lisbon Treaty.

Finally if we rightly consider that the Franco-German cooperation structures are established on an excellent base, an external intervention might provide it with extra measure. It would then be the work of strategic think-tank to serve as a meeting place and for new ideas to be drawn up. The latter just have to be appointed, an institute in France and one in Germany. Together it would be their work to bring all of those involved in security crisis management together on a regular basis with the aim of gaining a better understanding of the decision making base.


L'Europe (...) se fera par des réalisations concrètes - Robert Schuman, declaration on 9th May 1950

As the Franco-German Agenda bears witness, dialogue between Paris and Berlin is vital. This study shows that in view of Franco-German crisis management cooperation, differences in institutional decision-making rules have to be compensated for by a joint deepening in decision-making criteria. It also shows that in spite of a similarity in intervention concepts, the instruments employed sometimes need to be compared so that they can be better adjusted. Ultimately this might become a motto: acknowledging individual talents, developing collective intelligence.
[1] The decision to intervene was taken in a tight time span : on 20th December the mandate was given to the ISAF by the UNSC; on 21st December there was the decision by the German government; on 22nd December the approval process took place in the Bundestag (first reading, debate in the committees and vote by MPs: 538 in support, 35 against, 8 abstentions).
[2] Article 15 : the President of the Republic is the head of the army. He chairs the council and higher national defence committees. Article 20 : the government decides and undertakes the national policy. He has the administration and the armed forces at his disposal. Article 21 : the Prime Minister leads government action. He is responsible for national defence
[3] Decree n° 2009-1657 dated 24th December 2009 relative to the national defence and security council and the general secretariat for national defence and security.
[4] Coalition Contract 1998 between the SPD and the Greens : "The new government will give the role back to the Federal Security Council that was attributed to it originally ie as the coordination body for the German Security Policy".
[5] BAKS : Bundesakademie für Sicherheitspolitik (an institution the answers to the Chancellery together with the regalia ministries). The BAKS recommended the establishment of an institution that could set out strategic security guidelines.
[6] Eine Sicherheitsstrategie für Deutschland - Beschluss der CDU/CSU-Bundestagsfraktion (6th May 2008). The resolution advises on the coordination of military and civilian action in crisis management within the Security Council.
[7] Gemeinsame Geschäftsordnung der Bundesministerien
[8] Winfried Nachtwei: Erkundung in Kongo-Kinshasa ; Erfahrungen, Schlussfolgerungen dated 9th May 2006 (Reconnaissance in the Congo-Kinshasa; experiences and conclusions)..
[9] Deutscher Bundestag – Drucksache 16/1507 (17. May 2006) Beteiligung bewaffneter deutscher Streitkräfte an der EU-geführten Operation EUFOR RD CONGO.
[10] Weißbuch (2006), p. 29.
[11] The French White Paper on Defence and National Security (2008), part one, p. 56 in the English version.
[12] France and Europe in the World – White Paper on France's Foreign and European Policy (2008-2020) p. 64
[13] The operation level received the label of inter-ministerial task force but does not aim to steer ministerial action. Particularly the command chain in military operations should not be challenged out of a need to coordinate inter-ministerial action.
[14] See in particular : Volker Perthes, Internationale Politik (Mai 2007), Wie? Wann? Wo? Wie oft?
Stefan Mair (Hg.), SWP (September 2007), Kriterien für die Beteiligung an Militäreinsätze (S. 5-7; 11-19).
[15] White Paper on Defence and Security, p. 74, and the White Paper on Foreign Policy, p. 46.
[16] An interesting study by the German foundation HSFK rejects the reasons for the abstention on the vote on resolution 1973 (Harald Müller : Ein Desaster – Deutschland und der Fall Libyen). In terms of the interest of this for the present analysis this study shows that Germany misunderstood the combination of legitimacy arguments (call by the Arab League), legality (in spite of the BRICs abstention) need (urgency to protect) and responsibility (rejection of armed intervention). However the Chancellor did express her technical support during the Paris and Brussels Summits (19th March 2011) and (24th March 2011), and Berlin did not object to operations being undertaken by NATO.
[17] This surprising cliché worthy of Wikileaks found support in the mood felt in the Paris Summit (19th March 2011). But since this oration was covered by the Chatham House rules of discretion, but its author cannot be quoted.
[18] European Security Strategy (2003) – A Secure Europe in a Better World, pp. 17-18.
[19] On this, Stefanie Flechtner, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (Kompass 2020, Mai 2007) : In neuer Mission – Auslandeinsätze und die deutsche Sicherheitspolitik.
[20] The two have to be distinguished one from the other. The first is a document prefaced and signed by the President of the Republic. It sets the guidelines and its application is followed by a committee. The second is a study although it is official. It calls no less than for in depth reform of the Foreign Ministry.
[21] SWP Studie S6 (März 2010). Ronja Kempkin, Christina Kreuder-Sonnen,: Gendarmerieeinheiten in internationalen Stabilisierungsmissionen – Eine Option für Deutschland.
[22] The mission statement addressed to the Foreign Ministry on 27th August 2007 to launch the writing of the White Paper included this directive: It is vital to provide our development aid policy with new impetus. It must be more effective, more transparent and more strategic.
[23] Since January 1st 2011 the GIZ brings together the GTZ (Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit), the DED (Deutscher Entwicklungsdienst) and Inwent (Internationale Weiterbildung und Entwicklung). The GTZ (15 000 people) has acquired a development department (DED, 3 000 people) and a training department (Inwent, 800 people).
[24] Under the authority of the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy the CMPD represents one of the major departments of the European External Action Service (EEAS) and is coordinating with EUMS (European Union Military Staff) and the CPCC (Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability) to define a comprehensive security strategy.
[25] We should note the Bundeswehr reform committee's report (end of October 2010): Vom Einsatz her denken – Konzentration, Flexibilität, Effizienz. It expresses the need to reorganised the Bundeswehr's structures based on the leading idea of operational commitment.
[26] The present government's coalition contract notes Koalitionsvertrag 2009, p. 121) : We want to support peace work in Africa and we want to take part in peacekeeping initiatives as part of the UN and the EU).
[27] Protocole n° 10 on permanent structured cooperation established by article 42 of the Treaty on European Union (art.2c).
[28] The Foreign Affairs Ministry comprises two main departments: the Direction générale des Affaires politiques et de Sécurité, (Political and Security Affairs) and the Direction générale de la mondialisation, du développement et des partenariats (Globalisation, Development and Partnership) to which we have to add the department for the EU, Legal Affairs, Administration and Communication. The department for Security and Defence Cooperation , (DCSD) belongs to the Direction générale des Affaires politiques.
[29] The BMZ's intervention budget in 2010 (Cooperation Ministry) totalled 6,070 billion euros 50% of which was bilateral aid, 14.5% in aid via the EU and 11% from civil society, ie 75.5% in all declared as being German in origin (source:, 23rd July 2010). As a comparison the MAEE's White Paper (p. 55-56) notes that out of a total of 8.8 billion euros France's 'programmable' bilateral aid (excludig aid such as debt cancellation) barely represents one quarter of the PDA (public development adi) and that the French contribution t the EU funds should be monitored more closely.
Publishing Director: Pascale JOANNIN
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The author
Emmanuel Lefebvre
Former marine officer, strategic affairs with the Defence Ministry.
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