Should the EU seek independence from Nato?

The EU should do more for its own security, EU foreign and defence ministers resolved at the start of the week. Just what this involves is a matter of debate, however. Some commentators believe the EU should seek independence from Nato in the wake of Trump's election. Others question whether the Union has the necessary political and financial clout.

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Handelsblatt (DE) /

The days of disarmament are over

Europe must rearm to ensure its security, Handelsblatt is convinced:

“With Donald Trump's campaign statements against Nato a majority of Germans are now realising that the quarter of a century of disarmament since the fall of the Berlin Wall is finally over. Russia's annexation of Crimea and border violations in eastern Ukraine have already sounded the death knell for this happy phase. ... Trump's threat to stop giving Europeans blanket protection puts an end to the illusion of this peace without weapons. ... Of course we would like a world without weapons. But even in the last 25 years that world only existed to a limited extent. Germany can only afford its aversion to all things military as long as the US is willing to act as Nato's protective force in an emergency.”

Le Monde (FR) /

More military investment means more security

Boosting defence expenditure is the only way to enhance Europe's security, Le Monde believes:

“The idea [of EU defence institutions] is a red flag for northern Europeans who believe that the EU should not intrude on Nato's prerogatives. Important in the short term is to avoid any conflict between the EU and Nato, and to contain isolationist forces in the US. On this point the British Secretary of Defence Michael Fallon hit the nail on the head when he said to his European colleagues that spending more on defence is 'the best possible approach to the Trump presidency'. The Americans would then have less reason to withdraw from Nato, Europe would be more secure and France - which contributes more than the others to Europe's security - would come out ahead.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

EU can't afford more defence

Stronger cooperation on defence policy is a worthy goal but unrealistic, particularly for financial reasons, De Volkskrant believes:

“Because the EU lacks not only the military resources but also the will and the political cohesion to mobilise them. … So the question is whether the European response to a harsher geopolitical climate with less US protection should be more defence or more appeasement vis-à-vis external threats. The latter could have catastrophic consequences, but at least it would be cheaper in the short term. The questions Europe now faces are hugely important. For example are the European Nato members ready to substantially increase their defence budgets over an extended period of time? … The debate on this will no doubt be arduous. Because greater determination to extend European cooperation is good, but it won't be adequate as a response to the major budgetary problems.”

Daily Mail (GB) /

Brussels must not control the military

Putting defence policy in the hands of the EU is a terrible idea, the Daily Mail comments:

“For too long EU nations have scrimped on defence, knowing - or just expecting - that the US will pay for their security. ... The right answer to the incoming president isn’t, as Mr Juncker would have us believe, yet more EU control. Put to one side the deeply unpalatable idea that this champagne-swilling former prime minister of Luxembourg might have some direct involvement in military matters. ... Simply put, building an EU army would undermine Nato, which has been the bedrock of Western defence and security since the end of the Second World War. It would also risk provoking Russia.”