French DM Jean-Yves Le Drian made a last minute appeal to Britain to remain in the EU right before last night’s vote, in which Britain ultimately decided to leave the union, Le Drian’s argument was primarily a military one, arguing Britain would be “weaker” without the EU, and the EU would be weaker without Britain.
Other French officials are also expressing concerns about that, now that the vote is in, noting that Britain and French represented the biggest military forces in the EU, and saying they believe post-Brexit Britain might start looking to cut military spending at any rate.
Britain and France also have extremely close military ties, to the point where during discussions on austerity measures, the two had discussed the possibility of “sharing” an aircraft carrier as a way to cut down on expenses.
With Britain out of the EU, France ends up the preeminent military power in the union, though since both will remain NATO members, there really is no reason to think their military ties will be greatly effected. Those ties simply won’t extend to a unified European Union force.
The European Union doesn’t have much in the way of a unified military at any rate, and the Brexit portends a backlash against such multi-national unification that makes any moves in that direction more unlikely now.
France was, among EU nations, particularly keen to push European military unity, and President Hollande has sought to invokve Article 42 mutual defense after November’s Paris attacks.