Plans from the European Union are 'undermining' Nato, The Policy Exchange study warned
The Policy Exchange study warned: “The EU ambition for ‘strategic autonomy’ from Washington is one of the factors which has undermined the cohesiveness of Nato.”
It said Nato faces major threats including Vladimir Putin’s Russia which is increasing military spending and Middle East terrorism.
But it said: “Nato is weakening at a time when regional and global security challenges are growing.”
Professor John Bew presented the report to the Commons Defence Select Committee inquiry into US, NATO and UK defence relations
In recent years many EU leaders have been pushing for a Euro-Army and for greater cooperation in defence issues as part of the push for ever closer union.
Britain has fought against an EU defence arm amid fears that it could end up duplicating and weakening Nato.
Prof Bew, head of the Britain in the World project at Policy Exchange, wrote: “Nato has an EU problem: It is political in nature and rests on the fact that many within the EU see the Union as an alternative to American – and now British – influence in the European neighbourhood.
Strategic autonomy is increasingly important to that EU vision
Professor John Bew
"Strategic autonomy is increasingly important to that EU vision.”
He added: “It is important to understand that the development of the EU army idea will be driven by the primacy of European politics rather than concerns about the future of Nato.”
Prof Bew cited the EU’s 2017 Security Conference Report which called on EU members to “set aside” concerns that investing in EU defence schemes would divert resources away from Nato on the grounds that it was now time for “Brussels’ clout in the world” to be “top of the menu”.
11 things you need to know about NATO Tue, February 14, 2017
NATO – The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is an intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty which was signed on 4th April 1949. The organization constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party.
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Every member country, no matter how large or small, has an equal say in discussions and decisions. Photo shows: Signing the North Atlantic Treaty which marked the beginning of NATO, 1949.
He added: “A desire to distance the EU from Donald Trump’s America may encourage this trend further.”
Prof Bew, the Professor of History and Foreign Policy at the War Studies Department, King’s College London, said Nato’s difficulties with the EU are partly a result of its own success in fostering the reconstruction of Europe after the devastation of the Second World War.
He wrote: “This project has, to some extent, been the victim of its own success…
EU plans for 'strategic autonomy' were blamed for undermining the 'cohesiveness of Nato'
“A competing political force to American-led Nato has gradually emerged.
“It is reflected in the expansion of the EU with its stated desire for ‘strategic autonomy’ from the United States; aspirations to a global strategy ; and a plan for a common EU defence.”
He continued: “Certain versions of the EU in the future – such as the commitment to ‘ever closer union’ – run against some of the assumptions that have underpinned Nato.”
Many European leaders now see an EU army as more realistic following Brexit, Professor Bew wrote
He said Brexit had also changed the mindset of some European leaders.
He wrote: “With British resistance (almost) out of the way, some EU leaders are now discussing the prospect of an EU Army.”
He said the time had come for a grand strategic rethink for Nato and for the UK to lead by example by increasing its defence spending above the alliance’s target of 2 per cent of GDP.