Franco-British relations have always been central to the fortunes both of the transatlantic partnership and of the European security and defence project (ESDP). Although fraught with ambivalence in the years after the 1998 Saint-Malo summit, the Franco-British partnership pushed ESDP forward. In 2003, however, France and the UK defined two extremes in their approaches both to war in Iraq and to relations with the US. Neither approach makes strategic sense. France's apparent principled opposition will only serve to divide the EU into largely artificial pro- and anti-American camps. The UK's apparent unconditional alignment will only serve to confine it to the margins of European policymaking in an area - diplomacy and security - where Britain can and must play a leading role. Only if both countries agree to adopt, along with all their partners, a new and more subtle policy of quiet, unified and critical dialogue with Washington can the EU have the kind of transatlantic impact that both profess to seek.