Washington, D.C. – A new report from the Center for American Progress argues that it is time for the United States to drop its longstanding opposition to European Union defense. The current state of European security is not strong and the EU could play a critical role in integrating European defense and strengthening NATO.
The report says that U.S. opposition to EU defense efforts since the 1990s has been a strategic mistake that has undermined both the EU and NATO. It calls for a new U.S. approach that encourages ambitious EU defense strategies.
“For the EU to become a stronger global actor—and therefore a more capable partner for the United States—it will need to develop its hard-power military capacity,” said Max Bergmann, a senior fellow at CAP and co-author of the report. “A simple shift in U.S. diplomatic policy to support a stronger EU defense could have a profound geopolitical impact.”
One of the main problems plaguing European defense is that each European country has its own distinct national military, leading to incredible inefficiencies and waste. Strengthening European defense is therefore not just about spending but also about addressing the incessant fragmentation, duplication, and waste.
The report rejects the notion that NATO and EU defense are incompatible and at odds. Supporting EU defense does not mean choosing the EU over NATO. This is a false choice and a faulty premise, the report says, because the EU and NATO are not opposing organizations—they are, in fact, fundamentally tethered.
The EU could significantly strengthen NATO and the trans-Atlantic alliance, the report says. Integrating European forces, acquiring key capabilities, rationalizing and harmonizing the sprawling EU defense sector, and investing in cutting-edge research are some of the areas where the EU could play a critical role.
Read the report: “The Case for EU Defense: A New Way Forward for Trans-Atlantic Security” by Max Bergmann, James Lamond, Siena Cicarelli
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