EU leaders are worried about defence. The United Kingdom, which is one of the biggest contributors to European defence, is headed out the door. The United States, which accounts for about 70% of total defence spending by NATO Member States (but only 22% of NATO budget contributions) had been grumbling about Europe’s reluctance to spend on defence well before Trump entered the White House. Meanwhile, global security is looking increasingly precarious.

Even without Brexit, there was a question mark over European defence capacity. The 2011 intervention in Libya (which was, on the face of it, a European-led campaign) relied heavily on the US for “intelligence-gathering aircraft, aerial refueling tankers and precision-guidance kits for bombs”. Some commentators point to the Libya intervention as proof that Europe lacks the capabilities to launch or sustain significant military operations without the US propping them up.

What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from who Giuseppe, who thinks the EU is too dependent on the US for its security. Is he right?

In June 2019, Debating Europe attended the annual Policy Security Summit in Brussels, held by the think tank Friends of Europe. We arrived with camera in tow, and put some of your questions to attendees. The event coincided with the 70th anniversary of NATO, and focused on the “future of Europe’s strategic autonomy and its place in the world during a time of protectionism and international competition.”

To get a response to Giuseppe, at the Policy Security Summit we approached Nathalie Tocci, Director of the Istituto Affari Internazionali, Honorary Professor at the University of Tübingen, and a Special Adviser to EU High Representative Federica Mogherini.

We also had a comment sent in from Diana, who argues that a more independent European security policy would be expensive. She says: “Relying on NATO is much cheaper than having to finance our own defence”. Surely, she adds, we should instead spend the additional money for our European citizens’ welfare. Is she right?

To get a response, we spoke to Jüri Luik, the Estonian Minister of Defence. What would he say?

Is EU defence policy too dependent on the US? Would a more independent European defence policy be too expensive? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: (c) BigStock – Kletr

58 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    EU Reform- Proactive

    Please- can some listen? Defense & Security remains a National Competence! Who is authorized to speak (again) on every-body else’s behalf? The DE & Co?

    Once we had “the Juncker Plan”: (€315 billion “investment” target)- to create 1.4 million jobs and increase EU GDP by 1.3% by 2020. Forgotten? Actually it was via the EIB who uses this money to guarantee its financing operations to bring about European “integration and social cohesion”. What a profitable investment dream! Nobody speaks about it anymore- why?

    Now the hard core “pan European Kameraden” (EU Federalists) are warming up again- in a never shall die fashion- for the newest push for the “Juncker EU army plan”.

    French Pres- Macron: We MUST have a European Army! Macron unveils plans to build a new ‘SOVEREIGN’ force for the EU! Who is sovereign? Who pretends to be already EU sovereign (USE)- never mind “European” sovereign?

    Let France & Germany play their political games and become a federal state in all earnest & soonest- (of course without those who disagree- veto it) = “multi speed”

    “The Aachen Treaty”: EU historians can count another ineffectual Cooperation and Integration Agreement to its proud library.

    Another waste of taxpayer’s money! Where is the EU silk road? While China has taken over approximately 360 European companies! Tragic!

    Stop this nonsense please!

  2. avatar
    EU Reform- Proactive

    Sorry, but please bear with me again- EU defense= EU army= USE= ……………..?

    God help us European’s if “Mr secret selfishness” or rabid federalists Mr G Verhofstadt wins the EU’s No1 seat! Even worse than outgoing JCJ!

    Thus was written already in Dec 28th 2009 by “Charlemagne” in the Economist:

    “Mr Verhofstadt is a federalist’s federalist. The author of books including “The United States of Europe” and “The Financial Crisis: How Europe Can Save the World”, Mr Verhofstadt dreams of a federal superstate (EU army, EU taxes, turning the European Commission into a full European Government etc etc) and makes no bones about it.”

    This link highlights what’s behind the real “Pan European Union” movement of some journalists, Bankers, Liberals, ex royals, Verhofstadt’s & Kameraden :

    But, what does PAN Europe stand for? Ironically: “Pesticide Action Network Europe”. Very describing? These EU politicians are full of surprises!

  3. avatar

    Unfortunately yes. And seemingly things won’t change in a forseeable future.

  4. avatar

    Europe missed the chance to dissolve NATO when the Warsaw pact collapsed. And so yes. European defense is too dependent on US

    • avatar

      It was always Russia that was the threat, not the Warzaw pact.

  5. avatar

    Not “too dependent”, but rather simply “occupied” 😅

  6. avatar

    Yes… When we see Poland buying us jets…. Is that Europe… Where is the solidarity. We must develop common defense industry and common foreign policy

  7. avatar

    Yes it is. We need to invest better in our own defence.

  8. avatar

    Yes. Even the US think so. Stop talking about it and do something.

  9. avatar

    Yes. Though I see all defence as necessary evil.

    • avatar

      Oh, I agree.

  10. avatar

    The US doesn’t have a “defence” force, they have an “assault” force, to rape, loot and pillage half of the Earth for the benefit of a tiny group of American billionaires… The further we distance ourselves from those terrorists the better…

  11. avatar

    Some countrys are as big as 150 on 150 mil how in godsname can they pay it ( Belgium …..)

    • avatar

      by spending 2% of the BNP?

    • avatar

      with 10 billion € of debt in 2019 ???? With 10 mil people ? 👍🙄 OMG realy

    • avatar

      We payed 17 billion € for 15 F35,🙏🙏🙏 who’s going to pay that ?

  12. avatar

    The EU doesn’t really have a defense, policy to start with and is subsequently dependent on all others who do, including the US of course

  13. avatar

    We have the money, the Manpower ,the weapens and other goals then the americans,why not.Trump want a war with Iran Now ,n Korea is forgotten.We had a deal with that country and that fool wants even boycot oure firms who trade with Iran.Is this really an ally?

  14. avatar

    Since the creation of NATO (North America’s Terrorist Organisation) in 1949, Europe depends too much of U$A for its defense.

  15. avatar

    Yes especially in Belgium…NATO is still great IMO but European nations should still be able to at least hold of a potential Russian invasion and not rely on Americans being there to do all the work.

  16. avatar

    We know guy verhofstad wants a eu army and empire his words

  17. avatar

    No need the USA in europe.the just nothing speciale.why need no help from you.

  18. avatar

    We need the US here… the marshall plan was the best plan in history. A real european love the us and them to stay. Dont ASK what iT cost ,ASK what it brings

    • avatar

      the “Marshall plan” was, indeed, the best plan to make all Europe a slave of the U$A. It was only conceived to give to U$ industries and banks the opportunity to earn hughe amount of money – that U$ “help” was not free. It bringue Europe the destruction of culture(s), tradition(s), history…

    • avatar

      the destruction of europe becomes by the people they left the way of faith and belive.
      The result? We have a small grow of children like germany 1.2 children each family . But we need 3 for a growing stabil infrastrukur and investmenst.
      So we need immigrants- and they are by origin not eurpean.
      Thats why u feel losing ur culture…
      the second and most importend-!
      Only germany exports for 1.3 trillion dollar a year- it becomes the second biggest econony from the world .
      By this way germany spend almost 400 billion € for exports by european neighbours.
      All the results by the marshal plan …
      Thank u Uncle Sam

    • avatar

      The Marshal plan was great, and it is great that the US is helping US with our defence.
      But we could and we should do it in our own. We could start with a united air force and navy.

  19. avatar

    Chau Do we have the choice anyway?

  20. avatar

    I’m sure Europe could defend itself, the threat is low, but the support from the US doesn’t hurt.
    Europe should have a united army. It would be so much more efficient.

    • avatar

      yeah right they cant even handel terrorisme! 🤨 or immigration!

    • avatar

      neither can the US. Those issues are complicated, but one must try.

    • avatar

      The US is just lucky to have an ocean between them and the places where they created total chaos during the war on terrorism. They cause most of the chaos, but the refugees and terrorism come to Europe.

    • avatar

      A trickle of the refugees make their way to Europe. The deals the EU have with Turkey and Libya are very effective.

  21. avatar

    “too dependent” ???
    Full dependent, absolutely!!!!

  22. avatar

    Double edge sword, that cuts both ways , with one swing.

  23. avatar
    catherine benning

    Is EU defence policy too dependent on the US?

    A leaflet of consent to raise a European Army should be sent to every European household within the 27 asking for consent to use their money, given in taxes, to do this. They should also be made aware that should they vote for such a policy they and their children, both male and female, would be conscripted for any war, should it arise from having such an army.

    Does Greece still have conscription? Israel does. I wonder how Switzerland manages to remain impartial? And how would they take to being included in war?

  24. avatar

    We Europeans don’t need US imperialism!

  25. avatar

    Who is going to attact the EU? The USA wants an european army to help them in their wars in the middle east.

  26. avatar

    The russians will be quicker in Paris than the germans…

  27. avatar

    back such an outrage of those eu politicians and their outrageous over-paid environment, who think they should reinvent existing business… uff…

  28. avatar
    Corrado Pirzio-Biroli

    As Britain leaves (if it does) the EU, the latter has a golden opportunity to unite a majority of its members for a step towards a common defence policy. Let’s not forget that the Malo agreement between Britain and France was a British ploy to say “leave it to us nuclear powers, and we will deliver a common defence policy”. For its part, France had been the mortician of the EDC in 1954. As Britain continues to look across the Atlantic, even when the US is lead by a paranoic, one can only hope that the remaining EU finds the courage to do what it nearly did with the CED some 65 years ago. Of course, to avoid economic sanctions, we need also to international the EURO by creating Eurobonds and completing Banking Union. If we don’t, we will have only ourselves to blame for losing sovereignty in a world in which middle countries are no players. Of course, if Britain were to remain, we will continue to be stuck, because the EU cannot function if one of its major member states, which joined reluctantly and held two referendums to leave, were to inject its indecisiveness into an EU which, in times of populism, is already difficult enough to manage.

    • avatar

      Fully agreed! Very brilliant analysis.

    • avatar
      EU Reform- Proactive

      Dr. Corrado Pirzio-Biroli is a distinguished EU diplomat & no stranger to support EU federalism and the pan European Idea of yesteryear & today. This honorable EU diplomat seems also not best friends with the UK.

      No surprise his roots can be found with German Adeligen Fey von Hassell
      One man one vote!

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