White paper on defence and national security Letter to M. Jean-Claude MALLET, member of the Conseil d'Etat

White paper on defence and national security Letter of engagement from M. Nicolas SARKOZY, President of the Republic, to M. Jean-Claude MALLET, member of the Conseil d'Etat


Paris, 31 July 2007

Since 1994, significant developments have drastically altered the international environment and our strategic defence and security situation: 11 September terrorist attacks, emergence of new centres of regional power, proliferation, effects of globalization and technological developments. Concurrently, the move to fully career armed forces and end of conscription have led to radical changes in our defence capability. Finally, today, some critical decisions will have to be taken regarding the country's defence and be reflected in the next military estimates Act. This Act must establish the credibility of our defence, whilst respecting the State's financial constraints.

To take account of all these parameters in a coherent approach, I have decided to launch an in-depth review of our general defence policy. It will have to lead to a new White Paper. This review will be conducted under the auspices of a commission of which I have decided to appoint you chairman.

The future White Paper will define a comprehensive concept of our country's defence and its interests. It will focus on the areas of defence and security. It will have to cover the next 15 years or so, whilst being regularly updateable.

You will base your appraisal on an analysis of the international, economic and strategic situation, assessment of the risks and potential threats, keeping constantly in mind the need to protect the population and the country as well as the French living abroad, guarantee the country's independence and safeguard its strategic interests in the full sense of the terms.

On this basis, your study, together with the proposals you put forward, will inter alia have to concern the development of our alliances and defence agreements and a review of the employment conditions of our armed forces deployed in external operations. I ask you to pay special attention to strengthening the European dimension of our defence and security policy and our contribution to the security of the Atlantic Alliance as a whole.

You will assess what is necessary for the credibility of our deterrent force. You will study the pertinence of the armed forces' format and the locations where they are based, the coherence of the intelligence, industrial, technological and scientific effort our defence capability requires and the organization of civil defence and economic defence, increasing their coordination with military defence, with the aim of ensuring the smooth functioning of the public authorities, developing the means of fighting terrorism and proliferation, and improving crisis prevention and management. The economic and social consequences of the proposed guidelines will have to be examined. Finally, you are also asked to put forward proposals on increasing parliament's involvement in defining and implementing our defence policy.

Your analysis will be carried out with no a prioris; it will allow us to consider openly and transparently the choices we shall have to face in order to adapt our defence capability, strengthen the link between the nation and its armed forces, and organize the transformation of the defence industry and research in a national and European framework. It will be part of a process designed to maintain and bolster a defence effort of around 2% of GDP.

So in your work you will ensure that you take close account of the findings of the general review of public policies, especially the strategic review of the weapons programmes.

You will draw on a commission calling widely on leading figures in civil society, including representatives of Parliament appointed by the presidents of the National Assembly and Senate, and the civil and military heads of the relevant government departments. Given the priority I intend to give Defence Europe, I ask you to arrange the appropriate exchanges with our main European partners during the review.

The Secretary-General of National Defence will be responsible for the secretariat of the commission. I am instructing the various ministers involved to give you their full support and that of their departments.

I wish to have the future White Paper at the beginning of March 2008. It must be preceded by a progress report at the end of 2007./.

(1) supreme administrative court which also advises the government on legislation.

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