LETTER : It's time for a new entente cordiale

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The Independent Online
From Professor Helen Wallace

Sir: You recently carried two reports on Franco-British relations on European issues. Andrew Marr (20 January) commented on a discussion in Paris on 18 January and Mary Dejevsky (8 February) reports the article in Le Monde of 7 February by Jean-Pierre Langellier. Both of these articles have been in part stimulated by a well-conceived series of discussions organised by the Franco-British Council to encourage more thorough and constructive discussion of French and British adjustments to the new European policy and institutional challenges.

None of us who are involved are under any illusion that French and British policies can be easily aligned. Both the symbolism and the substance of European integration mean different things in the two countries. None the less, there are important convergences of objectives and interests that have increased the potential for common ground between the two govemments - the agreements at Chartres of November 1994 on closer defence co-operation are a real step forward and have removed an important area of friction that had weighed too heavily in the Maastricht negotiations.

One result of the work of the Franco-British Council is a joint report on French and British policies in Europe after the Cold War, to be published soon in French by the Centre d'Etudes et de Recherches Internationales and in English by the Franco-British Council. The authors, Franoise de La Serre and I, have taken some pains to state both the obstacles to closer Franco-British co-operation and the pressures for closer alignment. Our preference is clear: that the definition of extensive shared interests should displace the reflex to destructive caricature and distrust - electoral considerations in both countries permitting.

Yours sincerely,

HELEN WALLACE

Director

Sussex European Institute

University of Sussex

Falmer, Brighton

15 February

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