- Emmanuel Macron has urged the E.U. to take its defense more seriously.
- France is the sole nuclear force in the E.U.
- Germany is the biggest E.U. defense contributor.
French President Emmanuel Macron has criticized the European Union’s current defense policy on nuclear weapons. He put forward several ideas for a new strategy in a keynote speech on Friday. This is while calling upon the bloc to take its security more seriously.
Macron called for a joint nuclear arms control plan that can restrict the current arms race. He cautioned that E.U. member states are at risk of becoming passive spectators to the impending danger. Macron’s warning comes after the U.S. withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) agreement with Russia, whose intention was to limit the size of their nuclear warhead arsenal.
He stressed that E.U. member states should come up with a new policy to which all countries are signatories.
The French President has, on several occasions now, suggested that Europe become more independent from the United States when it comes to external defense matters.
He does not fundamentally question the bloc’s alliance with Washington but seeks greater involvement of group members, stating, “France is convinced that long-term security in Europe is possible through a strong alliance with the United States. But our security is also achieved, inevitably, through a larger capacity for autonomous action in Europe.”
France is currently the only nuclear force in the European Union and so automatically assumes greater responsibility in the event of a nuclear conflict in the region. This is especially after the departure of Britain from the E.U. The U.K. is a formidable military power with a sizeable nuclear weapons cache.
Macron has proposed a parallel arrangement to the U.S. nuclear defense pact with Europe. To this end, the French president is offering European partners greater transparency and dialogue in the policy decision-making processes. He has, however, made it clear that France will not be giving up any deployment decisions or control over its nuclear weapons even under such a collaborative accord.
At the same time, the French President has offered E.U. partners the opportunity to participate in French military exercises. Political pundits believe that the offer is more of a symbolic gesture. In a nutshell, Paris is attempting to bring to light current nuclear-arms issues while striving to spearhead the creation of a new policy framework.
A Few Pressure Points
Since Brexit, there has been no coherent, politically coordinated concept addressing nuclear arms defense among E.U. member countries. The situation has prompted U.S. President Donald Trump to call out the union for contributing little towards its own defense and leaving the United States to shoulder the financial burden. According to experts, Trump’s strategy to pressure member states appears to be working.
Subsequently, E.U. states are now contributing more to the NATO defense budget than in previous years. According to a new reworked agreement, the U.S. and Germany will collectively chip in approximately 16 percent of the organization’s security budget.