Following the Paris attacks of 13 November, the Council of the EU invoked for the first time in EU history the mutual defense clause of the Treaty on European Union, the relatively little known article 42.7. This article states that should an EU state become object of aggression on its territory, other EU states will provide all the aid and assistance at their disposal to help. Ministers of defense, meeting within the Foreign Affairs Council on 17 November, unanimously agreed to use this clause. As several ministers and the High Representative pointed out, this declaration was first and foremost a strong political gesture at this point. Bilateral talks on concrete military assistance began between France and some unspecified EU states. France indicated it would seek assistance in some of its foreign military missions, in order to unlock further personnel for fight against terrorism and for operations in Iraq and Syria.
France chose the EU mutual defense clause over a similar and much better known NATO provision, the famous Article V. The reason for this, experts say, is the traditional French preference for autonomous European military cooperation, as well as the unwillingness to launch another NATO operation in the Middle East, where the North-Atlantic Alliance has a much worse image.
26th October 2020
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