Prime Minister David Cameron and the French President Nicolas Sarkozy signed defence treaties between the two countries. The bilateral agreements are in the field of defence and nuclear joint working. A UK centre will develop nuclear testing technology while one in France carries it out and there are plans for a joint army expeditionary force, the BBC said. The two leaders hailed the bilateral agreements between the countries earlier today, and PM Cameron said that they will save money and would make the citizens safer.
Naturally, there has been some criticisms from Labour, who have raised concerns about the sovereignty of the UK in foreign affairs. Although some International Relations theorists might find the accusations of the Labour plausible, the concerns, which the treaties provoke, have little to do with the national sovereignty of the two countries. Both have already relinquished part of their sovereignty in foreign affairs being part of NATO, and to a smaller degree, of the European Union. The question, which comes to mind, is whether the treaties contradict in any way the provisions of the NATO treaty and the Lisbon Treaty? The NATO treaty (which is also the founding treaty of the organization), implies the doctrine of collective security and collective defence, whereby an attack against one is an attack against all. The rationale behind the NATO – style security is one of unitary action, with the consent of all parties. In other words, can the bilateral treaties between France and the UK be an obstacle for the implementation of the doctrine of collective security? A bilateral agreement, based on common interests, can tilt the balance of power among the member states. The alliance can be placed in a situation, where France and UK will be mutually more (dis)loyal to each other, which will inevitably affect the decision-making power of the Security Council, of which both the UK and France are permanent members.
The Treaties are alarming in another aspect, if the Lisbon Treaty comes into consideration. It was conceived as a step towards stronger Union in terms of foreign affairs. The Lisbon Treaty was designed to corroborate the feeble Common Foreign and Security Policy Pillar, and to build a security, rather than only economic alliance out of the European Union. The British-French treaties come in the middle of this last, incredibly ambitious European project, and experts are already asking the question, if a EU decision, which contradicts the bilateral agreement needs to be taken, is the UK going to be more loyal to France, or to the European Union? In other words, is it likely that a bilateral agreement, like the one between UK and France may jeopardize the attempts of the European countries to act in unison in foreign affairs?