Brussels (Brussels Morning) NATO members France and Germany disagree on military spending as the organisation seeks to take a more political role, RFI reported yesterday, Monday.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg presented foreign ministers this week with a report in support of NATO’s role as a policy hub. Afterwards, he announced that he planned to present his proposals to heads of governments at their meeting slated for next year. NATO today, he said, is “a very agile alliance.”
Earlier this year, US President Donald Trump accused EU member states of not contributing enough to NATO while his French counterpart President Emmanuel Macron described NATO as “brain dead.” Meanwhile, NATO member Turkey bought Russian-made defence equipment despite the organisation’s warning against the move. Ankara is also butting heads with its fellow NATO member Greece over a border demarcation dispute in the Eastern Mediterranean.
While Macron is pushing for greater EU autonomy, stressing that the bloc needs to be able to act without allies if needed, Germany apparently does not favour increasing military spending. The UK, which left the bloc but is committed to NATO, is planning to increase the defence budget to a target level of 2% of GDP in four years. In contrast, Germany shows no intention of boosting military spending in the coming years.
Despite disagreements, NATO members will have to settle on a joint approach to address increasingly assertive China and Russia, both of which are modernising and upgrading their armed forces. Besides the differing plans of member countries, NATO could see competition from the EU, which is looking to take on a more political role as well.
According to the draft Strategic Compass, the EU’s security and defence strategy, the bloc is looking to reduce its dependence on the US. However, EU member states are divided. Germany’ Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has issued a call to abandon what she terms “illusions of European strategic autonomy.”
Earlier this month, she stressed that Europe would not be able to replace the US as a security provider. On the other hand, President Macron said Kramp-Karrenbauer’s conclusion was a result of “historical misunderstanding”, saying it was vital to have a joint strategic policy.