• Monday, Sep 26, 2022
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

After Trump, Europe aims to show Biden it can fight for itself

  • Published at 01:14 pm November 17th, 2020
European Union
File photo: Activists display a model of Big Ben and EU flags outside the Houses of Parliament, in central London on September 4, 2019 AFP

The EU has been working since December 2017 to develop more firepower independently of the US

The Donald Trump era may be coming to an end. But European Union ministers meeting this week to discuss the future of the continent's defence will say the lesson has been learned: Europe needs to be strong enough to fight on its own.

EU foreign and defence ministers meeting by teleconference on Thursday and Friday will receive the bloc's first annual report on joint defence capabilities, expected to serve as the basis for a French-led, post-Brexit, post-Trump effort to turn the EU into a stand-alone military power.

President-elect Joe Biden will halt his predecessor's confrontational rhetoric towards allies, but he is not going to alter the underlying US message that Europe needs to contribute more to its own defence, European diplomats say.

"We aren't in the old status quo, where we can pretend that the Donald Trump presidency never existed and the world was the same as four years ago," a French diplomat said.

An EU official said Biden's victory was "a call to Europe to keep building a common EU defence, to be a useful and a strong ally, also for the Nato alliance."

The EU has been working since December 2017 to develop more firepower independently of the United States. The effort has been driven mainly by France, the EU's remaining major military power after Brexit.

During Britain's membership, London tended to resist a major military role for the EU, putting an emphasis instead on Nato as the main forum for European defence. Its exit gives Paris an opportunity to push longstanding ambitions for a bigger EU role in defence, with more cautious support from Berlin.

"The United States will only respect us as allies if we are serious about our own position, and if we have our own sovereignty regarding our defence," French President Emmanuel Macron said in a magazine interview on Sunday.

Trump was openly hostile to Nato, routinely criticizing European countries for spending too little on defence and describing allies that spend less than 2% of national output as "delinquent." But previous US administrations also called on Europe to spend more.

In a joint column for European and US media on Monday, the French and German foreign ministers said they were committed to "make the transatlantic partnership more balanced."

The EU's Coordinated Annual Review on Defence is expected to identify a lack of drone technology, ageing aircraft and duplication of weaponry across EU members.

Franco-German tensions

The EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell told EU ambassadors privately late last week that the EU needs to "practice the language of power, not just speak it."

While the EU is already at work on joint projects and will put aside $9.46 billion from next year for a weapons development fund, the bloc needs at least a decade to have any military independence from Washington, experts say.

Differences between France and Germany are also emerging, with Berlin seen as more sceptical of initiatives outside of Nato. Germany's Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said Europeans cannot hope to replace the US defensive nuclear weapons system.

France, meanwhile, has been waging war in northwest Africa's Sahel region for several years in what it sees as an operation to defend Europe's southern flank from Islamist extremism. It has so far had only limited success persuading other European countries to join the mission.

 


50
Facebook 50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail