EU states must pay their share to NATO, not an EU army

The European Union yet again shows itself as a danger to the stability of Europe as it continues with its mad idea of a European army. Meanwhile, NATO -- the only serious Western defence outfit -- is hampered because only 5 of its member states pay their fair share. We need to back NATO and get the EU out of everyone's way

NATO Operation Anaconda, 2016
Jack Beresford
On 23 November 2016 14:41

Donald Trump’s promise to “Make America Great Again” was a highly effective and succinct message to the American voters. It promised a return to former glory, with the United States’ interests coming first.

No wonder President-elect Donald Trump dislikes the current relationship between the United States and NATO. NATO demands its members spend at least 2 percent of their GDP on defence, and the United States exceeds this, at 3.3 percent. This is worth a whopping $600 billion, and is more than what the other 27 NATO countries pay combined.

Meanwhile, other NATO countries are not pulling their weight. Including the UK, just 5 NATO countries meet the 2 percent target. And it is not simply an issue of wealth. Despite its financial crisis, Greece spent 2.6 percent of its GDP on defence last year, while Germany lags far behind at only 1.19 percent.

Worryingly, countries most vulnerable to Russian military threats have been contributing the least. Together Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia (in absolute terms) pay less than half Greece’s contributions into the NATO common military budget.

In the recent crisis in Crimea, Ukraine (not a NATO member) could not defend itself from Russian aggression on its own, though it has made valiant efforts. Vulnerable countries must learn from this, and take responsibility for defence by paying into NATO.

During his election campaign, Trump appeared to threaten that if countries do not start paying up, he will not give military aid to them if they are attacked. The stakes could not be higher. If countries do not take proper responsibility for their own defence by increasing their military spending, another security crisis may be just around the corner.

Still, the European Union continues to push the idea of an EU army. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is the champion of this, proposing a Brussels army headquarters, shared weaponry and combined military strategy across EU Member States.

It’s clear you can’t have both an EU army and a fairer, stronger NATO.

There are more than just political objections to the idea of an EU army. It is unsound strategically, and potentially dangerous. As the UK’s Chief of the Defence Staff, Sir Stuart Peach argues, the “duplication” of forces would be unnecessary and would undermine how countries will be able to cooperate with NATO. We know ‘too many cooks spoil a broth’, but here the issue is more important: the future of global security is at stake.

Luckily the British Government is fundamentally opposed to this EU army idea. At a meeting of European defence chiefs in Brussels recently, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon rejected the idea, instead encouraging European countries to spend more on their own defence via NATO. A significant number of these defence chiefs agreed with Fallon, making the EU army idea likely to be vetoed if put to a vote.

Nonetheless, this idea is very much alive inside the EU. Juncker recently claimed: “We need a new approach to building a European security union, with the end goal of establishing a European army.”

It is unsurprising Juncker brings this up now. He clearly wants to cash in on the current political climate for his ultimate goal of ‘ever closer union’. Luckily it seems, most sensible countries disagree.

Now it’s clear, even the most committed Europhiles must abandon this idea, and admit NATO’s importance for our global security. Perhaps we should give thanks to the next Leader of the Free World, Donald Trump. He has given the kick some European countries need to take responsibility for their own defence.

Clearly, Europe must pay its fair share to NATO and give up on an EU army.

Hopefully, the UK will be leaving the political union of the EU soon. As the Eurocrats continue to play politics with global security, it’s clear the quicker we Get Britain Out of the EU, the better.

Jack Beresford is a Research Executive at Get Britain Out

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