The European Union’s new defense strategy is a bid to increase inter-EU security cooperation, and strengthen the EU’s ability to achieve independence from the U.S.-dominated NATO alliance. The plan lies in stark contrast to past European refusals to meeting defense spending obligations within the NATO alliance.
EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini, an Italian, will present the proposal to a meeting of EU defense ministers later this week, The Wall Street Journal reports. Mogherini wants to balance the NATO alliance with strong European “hard power” to give the EU “strategic hegemony.” A draft proposal obtained by The Wall Street Journal reads, “In this fragile world, soft power is not enough: We must enhance our credibility in security and defense.”
The United States and U.K. have long called on Europe to increase its defense spending. Only five of the 28 NATO members currently meet their defense spending goals, many of whom are EU members endorsing this new plan. U.S. and U.K. leadership in NATO prevented the Soviet Union from dominating the European continent during the Cold War.
The new plan concedes that NATO “remains the primary framework for most member states,” but that increased security cooperation would “enable the EU to act autonomously while also contributing to and undertaking actions in cooperation with NATO.”
Europe, devoid of U.S. led NATO leadership, was unable to curb Serbian President Slobadan Milosevic from massacring Kosovar nationalists. The U.S. politically pushed NATO to act in Kosovo, prompting Milosevic’s fall from power and a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
The U.K. long resisted any calls for pan-European military cooperation, encouraging European militaries to funnel any additional resources to NATO. The U.K. and the United States long viewed the establishment of European military headquarters as anathema. The U.K. referendum to leave the EU increases the likelihood of its full adoption.
There are no calls yet for an EU army, but the plan lays the ground work required for one. The plan’s call for shared resources, increased financial commitments, and spending on joint equipment all make the adoption of such an army a much easier task in the future.
Many of the facets of the new EU plan exist within NATO: The plans call for command structures, increased defense cooperation, and naval resources all mimic existing NATO infrastructure in Europe. The plan also calls for a rapid respond if a member state is threatened or hit by a terrorist attack, another facet mimicking NATO’s exact purpose.
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