Though (or perhaps because) it infuriates the English Eurosceptics to an almost excruciating degree, I find myself hugely cheered at the prospect of closer military co-operation between Britain and France. True this may upset some political calculations as Cameron and team prepare for the election fight in 2015 and patriotic appeals on the 200th anniversary of Waterloo become a little blunted. Still, young Mr Hilton tends to look after these things and has a world-view no larger than his own carbon footprint. He may not actually have heard of Napoleon, despite the physical resemblance.

Anyway back to military matters and the Entente Frugale as wags have dubbed it, which means roughly that we have the aircraft carriers, but no planes to land on them, and the French the planes, but nowhere to put them down (not counting France of course). It all seems almost too good to be true, even if I did choose to suspend judgement until Colonel Tim Collins – he of the Henry V oration on the eve of Iraq – had opined on the subject on Tuesday’s Newsnight. But Colonel Tim couldn’t find much to worry about, except the tricky question of whether to fit the carrier out with French or English plug sockets. So I think that settles it. If old enemies can unite after hundreds of years of animosity and conflict,  they can certainly sort out someone between them to go down to Boots for a bagful of continental adaptors.

Europaranoids see in the agreement the embryonic advance of a superstate army. Yet this theory falls down as soon as you recall that this is a superstate that has chosen as its leaders the miniscule Dutchman Herman van Rompuy and the unprepossessing Baroness Ashton. Suffused with the European ideal as this pair may be, they would have difficulty rustling up a litter detachment let alone an army.

Nor is President Sarkozy the EU’s agent, witting or unwitting,  The President, who is unpopular in his own country and facing re-election in 18-months time, is usefully at war with most of the pillars of the Union, including Commission President Barroso, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Luxembourg.  A man with pent up aggression aimed at Luxembourg is always worth an alliance, especially in any agreement that doubles up the number of troops available to send in and take the smug stamp-lickers out.

I cannot understand why the British do not take more to Sarkozy.  For one thing in three and a half years as president he has managed to alienate, aggravate and infuriate more Frenchmen than most of us could aspire to do in a lifetime. He is both the consort of Carla Bruni and, I learn from Wikipedia, ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra and most of us would settle for either of those.

Le President is also a little dynamo in pursuit of the French national interest. Frankly our own leaders could do with a scoop more of his energy and verve in their own projections of realpolitik on our behalf. While  William Hague unwinds long and considered speeches about the importance of improved bi-lateral relations with China, Sarkozy has President Hu Jintao over into Paris and is walking him up the Champs Elysee before the foreign secretary has taken off his baseball cap.

Sarkozy’s own presidency of the Union in the second half of 2008 is still recalled with a certain breathlessness.  For six months he strode about the place making a difference in a role usually filled by an unpronouncable eastern European sorting through his agenda points. “Sarkozy offered a brand of EU leadership that works, reviving the Union and making headway in projecting a responsible European voice in global affairs” said the International Herald Tribune which is not a publication often moved to swooning

All this fizz, I surmise, was given not out of great love for the EU, but for the interests of France and, well yes, Nicolas Sarkozy. We should forgive him that. This is a man it is better to have on our side.


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