Macron criticised over push for EU army by Italian MEP
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The US President was told by the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank with close ties to his administration, that it was time America allowed the EU to become a global military power. In a push for French President Emmanuel Macron’s dream of a united EU army, the think tank published a report urging President Biden to encourage the EU to develop hard-power military capabilities.
For the past few decades, US presidents have been staunchly opposed to EU defence integration under the facade of preventing duplication of NATO.
But writing in the report, Max Bergmann, James Lamond and Siena Cicarelli said it was time for the US to ensure Europe no longer depends on American defence powers.
They wrote: “Europe’s dependence on the United States for its security means that the U.S. possesses a de facto veto on the direction of European defence.
“Since the 1990s, the United States has typically used its effective veto power to block the defence ambitions of the European Union.
“This has frequently resulted in an absurd situation where Washington loudly insists Europe do more on defence but then strongly objects when Europe’s political union — the European Union — tries to answer the call.”
They added: “This policy approach has been a grand strategic error — one that has weakened NATO militarily, strained the transatlantic alliance, and contributed to the relative decline in Europe’s global clout.”
The call is sure to attract some criticism from NATO commanders who have longed believed EU countries lack the ability to defend themselves.
The authors of the reports said: “Today, much of Europe’s military hardware is in a shocking state of disrepair.
“European forces aren’t ready to fight with the equipment they have, and the equipment they have isn’t good enough.”
But they claimed the US was also to blame for such a state of the EU’s military forces.
They said: “This is a European failure.
“But Washington has played a critical, if underappreciated, role in precipitating this failure.”
They added: “For more than two decades, both Republican and Democratic administrations have vigorously pressed European capitals to bolster their national forces in support of NATO.
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“But this focus on national defence spending levels, embodied by the 2014 commitment by NATO members to spend two percent of their GDP on defence, simply hasn’t worked. European defence today remains anaemic, despite noticeable increases in spending.”
Retired General Philip Breedlove, NATO’s former supreme allied commander for Europe, said he was opposed to an EU army that could be seen as a duplication of NATO.
He said: “If these nations that are also in NATO want to spend on their defense, I see that as a good thing, because anything that will benefit the EU will also benefit NATO.
“But there is a huge caveat and that is something that we have been saying for a long time, everyone from the secretary-general to everyone else: We should not be investing in duplicative capabilities.
“There are far too many readiness needs, capability needs and capacity needs that should be met first.
“What we don’t need to do is invest money in redundant duplicative capabilities.”
Mr Bergmann, the lead author of the report, said US politicians and commanders should be open to adopting a new approach.
He said: “We need to get out of the mindset that the EU will be a complication for us.
“There is a sort of kneejerk negativity about the EU’s potential involvement, instead of viewing it in a potentially positive way.
“The waste and duplication is in the current system, where everyone is having to have their own full spectrum militaries. That’s probably not the best use of militaries for the EU or NATO.
“Too often the opposition to EU defence is very theoretical and not based on the practicalities of the EU getting involved in defence in a realistic way.
“It would be one thing if you could make the case that NATO as currently structured is totally working and European defence is taken care of, but it’s not.
“Just pushing and yelling at member states to spend more on defence … that’s just not a recipe for a strong Europe or a successful transatlantic alliance.”
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