France, a Swing State in a Flexible Alliance
France’s main priority at NATO’s July 2016 summit in Warsaw is to preserve a balanced and flexible alliance that is able to respond to different threats along its Eastern and Southern borders. France considers that NATO cannot afford to choose between Europe’s different neighborhoods and acts as an alliance swing state, along with the United States, the UK, and Germany, by playing a decisive role in managing this balance.
From a French perspective, NATO’s relevance and efficiency stem from the alliance’s pragmatic and flexible approach to security crises. Debates about the division between East and South, or about whether the current temporary NATO troops in the East and the Baltics should be made permanent, do not necessarily reinforce transatlantic solidarity. In this respect, France agrees with most of its allies that a geographical division of labor in the alliance would be a threat to NATO’s unity. The crises in the European neighborhoods require a comprehensive response.