The European Union is moving in to undermine nato, the European Journal reports. Calls for enhanced cooperation between nato and the increasingly federalistic EU is the headline, but under the surface the trends are moving toward reducing nato power and blunting American influence.
The Journal’s Glen Ruffle wrote, “On the nato side, reform is also in the air. Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Schefer said, in a July 7 speech in Paris, that nato-EU relations could only get closer. He expressed concern that Europe is still the weaker partner in the Atlantic alliance, with low defense spending, and reiterated the need, supported by President George Bush, for more Europe, not more North America, in the alliance” (ibid.).
Meanwhile, EUobserver reports that France, the current president of the EU, has put together a strategy designed to tie European security and defense policy to nato. France is outlining the Union’s shortcomings, which include aircraft interoperability problems, helicopter shortages, lack of defense investment and the political divide between nato and the EU (read the United States and Europe). For its part, Europe is taking specific steps to make itself into a mightier military power, including reviving the 1999 Helsinki European Council goal for the EU to amass a 60,000-troop force, establishing a European Security and Defense College and trying to squeeze more funding and participation out of countries besides France and Britain.
Europe muscling up and asking for tighter integration and cooperation with nato is thinning out the rationale for nato’s existence. Europeans already wrote the EU into a more prominent role in nato’s new manifesto, released in January of this year, which calls for less consensus decision-making, the authority to use force without UN approval, and a nuclear first-strike option. The charter would give the EU a governing position alongside the United States in a “U.S., EU, nato steering directorate at the highest political level.”
In March, De Hoop Scheffer said that nato should pool its military capabilities with the European Union and that the militaries of member nations should be “equally available to both nato and the EU.” In an article titled “neuto,” the Brussels Journal wrote that de Hoop Scheffer “ticked all the scare boxes, from cyber-crime, through international terrorism up to and inevitably including global warming” as reasons for the EU to help itself to more nato resources.
The European Journal states,
The relationship between nato and the EU is managed by the Berlin Plus agreements, which give the EU access to nato assets, command structures and facilities. Yet De Hoop Scheffer sees this relationship as too stringent, using the word “straitjacket” to describe the agreement. Despite the fact that the EU is now based in nato headquarters, De Hoop Scheffer wants even more integration, arguing that the rigid separation where the two organizations find themselves working together, between the EU doing police work and nato doing military work, needs to become more fluid and dynamic. The secretary general called for an entirely new set of arrangements, arguing that Berlin Plus is now out of date.
In spite of the luxuries the comparatively underpowered EU enjoys inside nato, Europhiles want much, much more. De Hoop Scheffer says, “If we are to be truly complementary it seems natural that we should have convergent, even overlapping strategic documents.”
The overlap would be even greater if France, a champion of the EU, rejoined nato. And the world is really only big enough for one global military organization to take care of the things nato handles—and that Europe wants to handle.
As the Trumpet reported back in January,
Whether or not the proposed nato manifesto is implemented, watch for Europe to take up the mantle of global policeman as the military might and will of America wanes. If Europe is given a governing role in nato, it will only further catapult Europe as a global policy-shaper.
If nothing else, this would enable Europe to drain nato’s power projection, reduce American influence, and perhaps eliminate the alliance’s rationale for existing as the EU takes on more and more of its roles.
Watch for Europe’s increasing military power and its growing influence inside nato itself to result in shrinking American influence in geopolitical matters both within and outside of Europe’s borders. For more on this subject, read “The New nato: Europe’s ‘Vital Enabler.’” •