Bilateral relations between France and either Germany or the UK are the backbone of European security and defence cooperation. From a strategic and cultural point of view, these relations are not self-evident. In this article, we track the memory-framing processes accompanying the creation of major bilateral initiatives. Leaders such as Adenauer and De Gaulle, Mitterrand and Kohl, Blair and Chirac, and Sarkozy and Cameron imagined bilateral communities of fate informed by mutually understandable historical memories: the World Wars for the Franco-German relationship and the Empire for the Franco-British relationship. Based on these memory frames, Franco-German identity undergirds a policy-based integration of core state powers while Franco-British identity informs capacity-building and force projection (a resource-based integration). These bilateral identities led to earmarking national military forces for common purposes and intertwined defence industries. In some cases, they also provided an impetus for EU cooperation in the context of the Common Foreign and Security Policy or the Common Security and Defence Policy.