The title of this article may seem like a staggeringly misplaced and ill-timed question. After all, is France not militarily engaged in Mali, the Central Africa Republic and Syria? Is Paris not involved in the type of crises that have a direct impact on European security, when so many of its fellow European states shy away from military action? Has France not jostled its way alongside London as the United States’ partner of choice on military affairs? Did France not recently agree to spend an extra €3.8 billion on defence over the next four years?
The departure of Carl Bildt and Radoslaw Sikorski as foreign ministers of Sweden and Poland respectively is an interesting development for European foreign policy. The timing is awful. At a moment when Europe is faced with crises in the east and the south, Europe can ill afford to lose either its most experienced statesmen or the vision they bring to the table. Both leaders simultaneously believe in the strategic necessity of the EU and they are as comfortable in Washington as they are at home in Warsaw or Stockholm. With Bildt and Sikorski gone, the EU is also lacking any obvious hardliners on Russia. This may satisfy some in the EU but surely Vladimir Putin must be pleased with their replacements.