Connect with us

Politics

EU leaders, eyeing autonomy, get noisy on defense



The EU may aspire to “strategic autonomy,” but Friday’s virtual summit of heads of state and government showed leaders experiencing another concept: strategic cacophony.

While the European Council leaders issued an anodyne joint statement insisting the EU would take numerous steps “to take more responsibility for its security,” their meeting reflected a chorus of disagreement. They differed over how much priority to give security and defense issues in the EU framework. They diverged over how closely to align with NATO. And they deviated over how much independence — if any — to seek from the United States, historically the bloc’s closest ally.

The arrival of U.S. President Joe Biden, and his promise to reinvigorate transatlantic relations, has only heightened concerns among some EU countries, especially those bordering Russia, about antagonizing Washington with talk of strategic independence. The U.S. has long bristled at any rhetoric that might be interpreted as sidelining NATO, or as advocating the development of capabilities the U.S. views as redundant.

During the summit, Polish Prime Minister Morawiecki made these differences clear, according to an EU official. He argued that “the European strategic autonomy in security and defense is a challenging issue not only for Poland. The consensus on this term in security and defense has not been reached at the EU level. If misunderstood by our allies, this concept might negatively affect transatlantic relations.”

To demonstrate that Brussels intends no such distancing, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg was invited for a special guest appearance at the virtual gathering, and gave a speech reiterating efforts to strengthen ties between the alliance and the EU.

Stoltenberg ticked off a list of challenges “no country or continent can face” alone — Russian aggression, international terrorism, cyberattacks, “the rise of China,” climate change.

“Not Europe alone, not North America alone, but Europe and North America together,” Stoltenberg said before the meeting in a joint appearance with Council President Charles Michel. Stoltenberg stressed that more than 90 percent of EU citizens reside in NATO-allied countries.

Michel emphasized similar points.

“We want to act more strategically to defend our interests and to promote our values, and we need to increase our ability to act autonomously and strengthen our cooperation with our partners,” he said at a news conference after the video summit. “We are committed to cooperating closer with NATO. A stronger Europe makes a stronger NATO.”

For some EU countries, keeping close with NATO and the U.S. is the highest strategic priority.

“If you are a member state, you look at NATO and not at the EU as a security provider,” said a senior EU diplomat. “If, for example, you are Greece and you have a problem with Turkey, who do you call? The EU? No doubt you don’t. You call NATO.”

The senior diplomat added, “I’m afraid this is not going to change, at least for some time.”

But some EU leaders, notably French President Emmanuel Macron, insist that strategic autonomy has become an even greater imperative after the last four years in which disagreements with former U.S. President Donald Trump showed that European allies should not rely on the United States for security guarantees.

In an interview with the Financial Times last week, Macron defended his previous criticism of NATO, saying: “Nobody can tell me that today’s NATO is a structure that, in its foundations, is still pertinent. It was founded to face down the Warsaw Pact. There is no more a Warsaw Pact.”

It was a curious reinterpretation of the alliance’s origins, but also reflected a worrisome development for some other European capitals: the president of France, which has EU’s strongest armed forces and is its sole nuclear power after Brexit, seems intent on shaking up both his EU partners and NATO allies.

Macron has insisted on pursuing a rapprochement with Russia, which he defended again in a recent speech to the Munich Security Conference, and he has repeatedly been embroiled in tensions with Turkey over Libya and other issues. Macron has complained that other allies refuse to help keep Ankara in line.

In a nod to Macron’s demand for influence on these topics, the leaders said they intended to adopt the EU’s new “strategic compass” — a broad-ranging policy document on security and defense — in March 2022, a date that falls within France’s rotating presidency of the Council of the EU.

Other leaders have said Europe should take the chance to work with the Biden administration on bolstering the EU’s own security capabilities and improving its partnership with the U.S.

“We need to seize the moment to reinvigorate transatlantic relationship with the new U.S administration, seek to engage the U.S. in EU security and defense initiatives,” Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda told POLITICO.



Source link

قالب وردپرس

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Providence
46°
Cloudy
6:04am7:26pm EDT
Feels like: 45°F
Wind: 4mph ESE
Humidity: 77%
Pressure: 29.88"Hg
UV index: 0
FriSatSun
45/39°F
54/41°F
55/43°F
Advertisement

Top News cnn