German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that closer defence ties agreed in a new friendship treaty between Germany and France aim to “contribute to the creation of a European army”.
The new Aachen treaty enshrines the sentiment that both France and Germany pledge to stand together in case of a military attack against either of them, duplicating a commitment already written into NATO.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the treaty:
“For decades, Franco-German cooperation has been essential for security and stability in Europe. The Aachen Treaty is a reminder of the historical significance of this partnership, of how far Europe has come since the devastation of the Second World War and of the importance of continuing to work towards a Europe that is whole free and at peace.
A strong French and German role in NATO will continue to be essential for European and Transatlantic security.”
The Secretary General earlier warned however that while stronger European defence can contribute to fairer burden-sharing within NATO, there was no need for duplication of efforts between NATO and the EU.
“NATO remains the bedrock for European security,” he said late last year.
“When I meet the EU Defence Ministers now, I expect us also to discuss the issue of European defence. I have welcomed EU efforts on defence many times, because I believe that projects such as military mobility, European Defence Fund, PESCO, all of that can contribute to fairer burden-sharing within NATO. It can complement NATO and it can also help to develop new NATO capabilities and also address the fragmentation of the European defence market.
So this is something I have welcomed many many times. But I have been equally clear about the fact that EU efforts must not compete with NATO, must not duplicate NATO, because NATO remains the bedrock for European security.
We have to remember that after Brexit 80% of NATO’s defence expenditure will come from non-EU NATO Allies. And 3 of the four battlegroups we have deployed in the eastern part of the Alliance, in the Baltics countries and Poland will be led by non-EU Allies. And also geography matters.”
AFP also reported that Paris and Berlin will also create a new joint Defence and Security Council and seek to harmonise rules for military equipment procurement.