NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday that the enhanced defense of the European Union (EU) is good for the alliance but should be complementary to NATO’s efforts, rather than competing with them.
Earlier in the day, Mr Stoltenberg met with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel as part of consultations with NATO allies in preparation for the next alliance summit scheduled for 11-12 July in Brussels.
“At the same time, it is important to underline that the EU’s strong defense efforts will not replace or compete with NATO. Of course, NATO is the alliance that can provide collective defense for both Canada and the United States=, but also for NATO’s European allies,” Stoltenberg said.
“We have to remember that after Brexit, 80% of NATO’s defense spending will come from non-EU allies,” Stoltenberg told a news conference after his meeting with Michel.
Stoltenberg added that NATO would welcome the EU’s efforts in defense “but something that complements and does not compete with NATO.” The fading transatlantic alliance is unable to get EU support for endeavors strictly favoring the US.
In September, France’s President Emmanuel Macron proposed a plan to create a joint European defense force that would protect Europe at critical points around the world. According to Macron, the joint defense force should complement NATO rather than replace the alliance. Originally Berlin was skeptical of the idea, but early in June German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her support for the initiative.
Meanwhile, speaking at Lancaster House before a meeting with UK Prime Minister Theresa May, NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg said ties between Europe and the US would survive tensions and disagreements over issues such as trade and the nuclear deal with Iran.
“Our bond is strong, but some are doubting the strength of this bond, and yes, we see differences between the United States and other allies on issues such as trade, climate and the nuclear deal with Iran,” he said. “It is not written in stone that the transatlantic bond will survive forever, but I believe we will preserve it,” he added.