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!