Americans do not want to defend Europe only for their money
After the end of the evening meeting of the summit, the European Council President Donald Tusk came out to the journalists and solemnly announced: “Today dreams have become a reality. PESCO is a practical expression of our intention to build a European defense. It's good news for the EU and its allies, and bad news for our enemies. ”
Tusk did not say that the long-standing "dream" of Europeans to create their own defense structure and a unified army was largely due to the crisis in relations within the NATO North Atlantic Alliance, uniting most of the countries of Europe, the USA and Canada. This crisis has two reasons. One of them is the absence of real military threats. The second is the fatigue of the dominant role of the United States, in the framework of the alliance who prefer to solve their national problems.
The Americans, as best they could, restrained the rush of alliance partners to create a single European army. When President Donald Trump and his administration came to power in Washington, their differences with Europe received a new impetus. They were caused by Trump's demand for Europeans to increase NATO funding.
This his thesis sounded during the election campaign. In the spring, at the NATO summit in Brussels, Donald Trump repeated the criticism of Europeans for “failure to fulfill financial obligations” and stressed that such behavior is “dishonest” towards the United States. The European members of the alliance tried to dissuade with common words about the joint fight against terrorism and mutual defense, but this rhetoric did not make any impression on the overseas guest.
Trump insisted: NATO member countries must bear defense expenditures within two percent of their GDP and invest these funds in the overall tasks of the North Atlantic bloc and its budget. Trump was not the first to complain to Europeans about the lack of concern for his defense and its financing.
Americans have long said that after the end of the Cold War, the military contribution of Europe to NATO is constantly falling. Indeed, in the Old World in the absence of real military threats, they preferred to spend money on peace programs, developing their economies. There is nothing surprising. The military-strategic situation on the continent and the dangers associated with it are a thing of the past.
Experts are now joking: "The prospect of a large-scale clash with Russia looks as likely as the Martian invasion." The author of this irony is Doug Bendow of Forbes, a US financial and economic magazine. To the displeasure of the United States, its assessment is shared by politicians and businessmen of Europe. However, in 2014, the United States forced its European partners to make a commitment: by 2024, to raise the share of defense spending to two percent of GDP.
Time has shown that Europe is not in a hurry to fulfill its promise. According to the Forbes magazine, already mentioned, last year the share of defense expenditures of European NATO member countries amounted to only 1,47% of GDP, and in Belgium, the Czech Republic and Spain did not exceed even one percent. But under the umbrella of the Atlantic alliance, small European countries rushed, whose military contribution did not strengthen the organization.
An example of this is Montenegro, which joined NATO last summer. Its military costs do not exceed 50 million euros, and the army - two thousand soldiers. A similar situation in the Baltic countries. About the threat of Russia there are shouting loudly. But, for example, Estonia and Latvia put in operation only five thousand servicemen. All their defense hopes they associate exclusively with NATO.
PESCO Project May Lead Europe to New Internal Conflicts
The position of Donald Trump found support from his compatriots. Overseas, it began to spread the view that Europeans should bear the same burden as defense taxpayers with American taxpayers or independently provide for their defense. Partly in this vein, European political thought also began to develop.
Back in the distant 1954 year, at the start of European cooperation, the founding fathers of the current EU immediately took the idea of the European Defense Community out of the framework of discussion. In post-war Europe, questions of protection against external threats were completely taken over by NATO, which, in fact, became the European branch of the US military.
This attitude, which has already become to some extent a political mentality, has continued for many years. Experts believe that it still influences decision making in European capitals. It is not by chance that the plans to create a single European army, implying a certain military competition on the continent, have not yet come out of the talk stage.
The PESCO project, which became a political reality last Thursday, is viewed by officials in Brussels primarily as a structure that complements the "NATO military efforts to prevent threats from the East." Similarly, the representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini expressed her promise that the parties to the agreement "will not duplicate the functions of the North Atlantic military bloc."
Meanwhile, Euro-optimists (like French President Emmanuel Macron) view PESCO as a step towards creating a unified European army. Speaking not so long ago to the students of Sorbonne University with a program speech on EU reform, Macron said that today the European Union needs a common defense budget and a joint army.
According to Macron, Europe is faced with a double test - the “gradual and inevitable” alienation of the United States and the threat of terrorism. Now she must take care of her own safety. PESCO is only the first step in this direction. On its basis, a pan-European army should appear by the end of 2020 "in addition to the NATO armed forces".
In the meantime, Europe is focused on the full implementation of the agreement on Permanent Structured Defense Cooperation. At this stage it corresponds to the plans of the Atlantic alliance. The agreement defines the mandatory rules for increasing defense spending in Europe and coordinating them.
The document is serious. It included 50 separate cooperation agreements on the development and purchase of new military systems and weapons. Provides, for example, the unification of military equipment. Europeans decided it was wasteful for them to have, like today, 17 types tanks, 29 types of frigates and destroyers and 20 types of combat aircraft.
The PESCO Agreement provides for a different approach, which, in turn, will entail a reduction in the cost of repair and maintenance of equipment. The changes will concern logistical issues (civilian transport infrastructure is adapted to the tasks of the military), industrial cooperation, etc. The treaty provides assistance to PESCO member states in the event of a military threat or attack on them.
Non-EU countries may be invited to participate in the agreement. This will be done only exceptionally and for “significant value added to the project”. It is possible that there will be hunters. Although some members of the EU ignored PESCO. Denmark, Ireland, Malta and Portugal refused to participate in this contract.
The final communique of the meeting of EU foreign ministers, which approved the final parameters of the agreement, states that these four countries can join PESCO at any time if they "meet its requirements." Local media did not develop the topic. They wrote more about the "surprise" that was presented by Hungary and especially Poland.
Both countries for two years oppose European integration, and here they have shown enviable solidarity with the EU plans in the field of defense. The experts considered this a good sign, reflecting the good prospects of the new agreement on defense. However, not everyone in Europe agrees with this assessment.
The scientific director of the German-Russian forum, political analyst Alexander Rahr, on the contrary, is convinced that in reality Europeans do not need to coordinate defense spending and their own army, but “in the new powerful, militarized police structure in order to protect the EU borders primarily from refugees and migrants from Asia and Africa. "
Rahr believes that the PESCO agreement should help "create a common center for combating terrorism: data exchange, coordination of intelligence work." In fact, this may not be possible, since some of the EU countries that have signed the agreement (for example, the Baltic States and Poland) are not yet ready for their security to depend on Germany and France, and not on the United States of America.
The Agreement on Permanent Structured Cooperation in the Field of Security and Defense is perhaps the first sign of the new initiatives for the further integration of the European Union. This process frankly stalled. The contradictions between the EU countries are only growing. This affected the implementation of the agenda of the last summit in Brussels. Without problems, we could only agree on the extension of anti-Russian sanctions.
Apparently, the PESCO project will have a difficult fate. It is only German Leopard to crush the tank projects of neighbors, as the quarrels of Europeans break out with a new force. They again will need an arbitrator in disputes. As always, it will be America. For real independence, Europe must go a very long way ...