He claimed security was an area that had support for closer integration
Jean-Marie Guéhenno, CEO of International Crisis Group, an independent conflict prevention organisation, has called on NATO’s European members to step up their defence spending.
The Frenchman has signalled the new direction in foreign policy by US president Donald Trump should act as a catalyst for change, warning: “NATO is about North America’s engagement in Europe, and Europeans, working with Canada, must take the initiative in proposing a vision adapted to the 21st century.
“Otherwise, they run the risk that a president who has little time for the Continent will see his European allies simply as adjuncts to an ‘America First’ strategy — and blatantly ignore their interests.”
Mr Trump has continually said NATO partners must pay their way and not simply rely on the US for back-up, raising fears over the US’s continued commitment to NATO under his leadership.
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But Mr Guéhenno warned continental nations cannot simply ‘buy’ American defence through increased spending, but a reinforced European bulwark of strength was needed.
He said: “Its European members must show unity of purpose and vision: The time has come to create a European pillar of NATO.
“As a proposal, a pillar now makes sense in terms of realpolitik.
Jean-Marie Guéhenno called on NATO’s European members to step up their defence spending
“With a US president who appears more than happy to play nations against one another, European countries are unlikely to make themselves heard unless they can present a coherent, united position.”
With the UK – one of the European Union’s strongest members militarily – set to leave the bloc, the future remains uncertain.
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But other key members of Europe, notably France and Germany, should take charge, Mr Guéhenno argues.
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The time has come to create a European pillar of NATO
He said: “A European pillar will first have to decide on its membership. Germany and France, whose military capacities are increasingly compatible and complementary, should take the lead once elections in both countries have taken place.
“A caucus needs to emerge within NATO. It should include the six founding members of the EU, as well as more recent members, which could agree on two founding principles: that the emergence of a European pillar is made necessary by the changed strategic landscape; and that a European pillar should be conceived as a means to strengthen NATO, not as an alternative to it.
“In fact, one of its key goals will be to keep the US engaged.”
Mr Trump has continually said NATO partners must pay their way
His comments seemingly reinforce fears an EU Army is being created by Brussels.
He added: “An informal political approach is probably the only viable path to this European pillar, since a formal institutional approach would likely stall very quickly.
“Separated from the question of EU membership, a European pillar within NATO could bring countries with varying degrees of EU adherence into the fold.”
Other key members of Europe, notably France and Germany, should take charge
And he said that despite rising nationalism, he claimed security was an area that had support for closer integration.
Mr Guéhenno said: “The EU will not get out of its present malaise by renouncing its ambitions.
“On the contrary, it needs to be more ambitious if it wants to respond to the security concerns of its citizens.
“The exceptional circumstances confronting Europe require an exceptional response.”
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