The declarations made by the French President caused a reaction. They have the merit of setting clear questions which Europeans will not be able to avoid.
NATO cannot elude the issue clearly set out by Emmanuel Macron: “what is its strategy? It helped win the Cold War. That was thirty years ago. It taught the Europeans to work together and the Allies are largely “interoperable”. What there its goals now? Commercial, political, strategic, or others? Is it not contributing to the exacerbation of tension between opposing regimes in Europe? Does it want to extend into new territories? If the Alliance, this one of democratic States for whom freedom is the foundation of all political organisation is, must continue its goals must be clearly be redefined and the attitude of some of its members seriously reassessed.
Are the USA really engaged by the mutual defence clause, article 5 in its charter? Would they go as far as implementing dissuasion, i.e. using the threat of nuclear weapons to protect the border and the stability of one of its Member States? Would they take the risk of retaliation on their territory?
Whether we like it or not, doubt has been instilled by an American President who is less polite than his predecessors, who has almost given a “no” and argue some so-called financial reasons. The American contribution to the organisation’s operational budget represents less than a thousandth of the US defence expenditure and one might ask what the real reasons are of the presence of US troops on European soil.
And what should be done about Turkey and its almost Islamist, and in all events, frankly Middle Eastern agenda? Is it not endangering our own security?
The quest for true ‘strategic autonomy’ is now one of the Union’s official goals; it will be the leitmotif of European work over the next few years. In virtue of a simple principle: when we play with the “big boys”, as is Europe’s case in terms of the economy, we cannot ignore the strategic dimension of power. The Union is going to do everything in its power, to strengthen its autonomy and acquire its independence. Not for offensive ends, to conquer new territories or to dominate, but simply to assert the respect of its interests, defend and promote its values of peace, solidarity and cooperation of which it may finally be the only true defender.
The alliance in NATO of the members in the camp of freedom must hold steady, but the defence of Europe by Europeans still has to be built. This is why the Robert Schuman Foundation suggested three years ago a treaty to ensure the security of Europe, signed between the UK, Germany and France. It would entail making public a security guarantee for the continent, which the three powers on the continent would provide to Europe as a whole. This commitment would acknowledge NATO’s role, but also that of the European Union in the strengthening of our military means. Prime Minister Theresa May adopted this idea, likewise Emmanuel Macron. An initiative like this would enjoy the merit of making cooperation between the EU and NATO easier. There would also be an interest jn retaining strong, official links with Great Britain after Brexit and to guarantee the security of the States of Europe, which have the right to protect their borders and their territories.
NATO will not be able to continue as in the past, otherwise it will lose all credibility and efficiency. It is an alliance and not a dependence. Its goals must be shared by all of its members and not imposed by some external stakeholder. And it should be glad at Europe’s progress in its construction of an autonomous tool of security.