Alliance head Stoltenberg said Tuesday that efforts to boost EU defence spending were welcome, but only if they were coordinated with NATO plans, warning there was “no way” the EU could replace the transatlantic alliance in guaranteeing European security.

“It will be absolutely without any meaning if NATO and the EU start to compete. European allies are absolutely aware that the defence, the protection of Europe is dependent on NATO.”

The two-day meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels is expected to approve changes to NATO’s command structure aimed at making the alliance fit for the challenges of warfare in the 21st century, particularly cyber tactics and hybrid warfare, as fears grow about Russian assertiveness.

Stoltenberg said to reporters in a doorstep statement:

“Today and tomorrow, Defence Ministers will meet here in Brussels to prepare for our Summit in July. We will begin with a meeting of the Nuclear Planning Group. Part of our regular consultations to keep NATO nuclear forces safe, secure and effective.We will also take decisions to modernise NATO’s Command Structure.

I expect we will agree to establish two new Commands. One for the Atlantic. And a support command for military mobility within Europe. As well as a new Cyber Operations Centre. Later today we will address defence spending and burden-sharing among Allies.

To keep our nations safe, we need more defence spending, investment in key capabilities, and forces for NATO missions and operations. In other words, more cash, capabilities and contributions. Last year, Allies decided to report annually on how they intend to deliver all three. And today, we will review how far we have come. The reports confirm that we have made substantial progress. But we still have a lot of work to do.

Tonight we will meet with High Representative / Vice President Federica Mogherini. As well as our colleagues from Sweden and Finland. Together we will discuss EU’s efforts on defence and NATO-EU cooperation. Done in the right way, these efforts can make a contribution to fairer burden-sharing between Europe and North America. Tomorrow we will focus on our progress in implementing our deterrence and defence posture. We will also discuss NATO’s role in projecting stability and the fight against terrorism.

NATO contributes to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS with AWACS surveillance flights and training for Iraqi forces. And the Coalition has made major progress. Liberating nearly all of the territory once held by ISIS in Iraq and Syria. But ISIS will remain a threat even when they no longer hold any territory. So training for the Iraqi forces is key.

In response to a request from the Iraqi government and the Global Coalition, I expect we will agree to begin planning for a NATO training mission in Iraq. This will put our presence on a firmer footing. With established procedures for generating forces and funding. This will help make Iraq safer. And us more secure.”

The EU’s ‘permanent structured cooperation on defence agreement’, known as PESCO, has projects in view already to develop new military equipment and improve cooperation and decision-making.

On Sunday a senior official working with US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Washington had concerns some of the proposed initiatives risked “pulling resources or capabilities away from NATO”, according to reports.

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Callum

Would the EU seriously prioritise “ever closer union” over their NATO commitments? Maybe, MAYBE, in the far future a united Europe could be militarily independent from the US, but that would require the dissolution of national forces and everything collected into an EU armed forces.

Meanwhile, an increasingly aggressive Russia and a China that’s finally turning its industry to defence means the days of forces doing nothing more than COIN and airstrikes are coming to an end. Its exactly the wrong time to be alienating the two biggest defence contributors in NATO just to push the impractical dream of EU sovereignty.

Steven

The EU is irrational.

Mike Saul

The EU is driving down a cul de sac with its notion of defence union to replicate NATO.

If the manure hits the fan in eastern Europe its defences will fold like a pack of cards without the USA.

Steven

Correct but the UK on our own are even more vulnerable.

Mike Saul

UK will maintain a viable defence relationship with the US via NATO.

So your point is exactly what?

Joe

The UK isn’t on its own…. it has NATO.

The UK isn’t vulnerable to any outside force.

Paul.P

Don’t you mean the EU is more vulnerable without the UK?

David

If you read the Lisbon Treaty, it’s clear that the EU sees itself as “the United States of Europe”, and the treaty is a clear roadmap to that. It makes an EU army a reality, and this is now being talked about as a replacement to NATO, not a complement to it. Interesting isn’t it, that for decades NATO has called on Europe to spend more on defence and they have (with the exception of the UK) constantly dissembled and/or under-delivered. Yet as soon as they have the prospect of their own armed forces, EU countries seem to be falling… Read more »

You mean defend themselves without a sugar daddy or two ? Good.

Dennis

I think it means defend themselves without being beholden to supporting US interests, and I don’t mean that as a shot at the US. The Europeans are, and always were treacherous.

David Fulop

How is that a bad thing? Failure of United States diplomacy and their irresponsible buccaneering in the Middle East has cost Europe unrest on our borders, a massive wave of refugees, constant war in our backyard and a low scale conflict in Ukraine. Not to mention the indirect consequences fortified by constant Russian meddling aimed at destabilising the region.

Of course America is and will be always the most important ally for Europe but there’s nothing wrong in starting an initiative to pay for our own defense and build capabilities that match our economic weight in the world.

Joe

“Of course America is and will be always the most important ally for Europe but there’s nothing wrong in starting an initiative to pay for our own defense and build capabilities that match our economic weight in the world.”

And why can’t that be done via NATO?

Please explain why the EU needed to become a military alliance & compete for scarce resources with NATO?

Dennis

Because they realize they have a different set of interests, and at this point a different set of underlying political principles ( self govt. vs. globalism rule by un-elected officials), and no longer want to be obliged to act on behalf of US concerns.

Paul.P

Yes, I agree. The EU wants to replace NATO. But I see the Ukraine as a real challenge. It is a member neither of NATO nor the EU. Even a cursory look at a map shows the Ukraine as a dagger pointed into the Russian body. There is no way Putin will accept Ukraine’s professed non aligned status. His volunteer hyenas will continue to harass it until it rolls over and divides to give Russia the buffer state (against NATO?) that Russian paranoia always seeks. Jean Claude Junker is on record as saying it will be 20 years until the… Read more »

Completely disagree with Mr Mattis. There is no reason either in terms of GDP or population why the EU shouldn’t be able to deter Russia with ease. They should be ashamed by the fact they need non-EU states to protect them. I’d give 10 years notice and then pull our assets out. It’s called tough love.

Steven

But the US doesnt want to lose control of it’s European colonies and NATO is perhaps it’s most important Trojan horse.

Elliott

European colonies? F*** that. Europe is just a batch of useless moral proselytizing security threats to the United States and the American people. The euro trash never miss an opportunity to bash the Americans or our Flag and country. If Europe continues on the path it is heading before NATO dissolves. However it would definitely merely be replaced by the chain of thought one that essentially says right it off. Realign with a more amenable and useful set of allies. That logic would dictate conclusions such as this. Well we called Stalin friend and ally before. How is Vladimir Putin’s… Read more »

Umm your sounding suspiciously like a troll Mr Elliot sir.

Elliott

Not a troll. Just more than 50 years of adult life of Europeans accusing the United States of making them colonies. While simultaneously having seen the equivalent of trillions dollars over decades and commitment of hundreds of thousands of troops at times for their defense as nothing more than betrayal of the treaties spirit if not it’s letter. I remember the Swedish and Italian Governments calling the US no better than Nazis over Vietnam pretty f****in rich considering Benito Mosolinni. Every country in Europe said the US and President Nixon had picked the “wrong side of history”, over choosing Israel… Read more »

Dennis

Does that mean they should be ashamed they needed a non continental invasion to rescue them from Nazi rule and ward off a communist one?

Daniele Mandelli

I hope the EU in my lifetime dissolves into independent nation states respectful and trading happily together as allies. What a far cry from how the EU is treating the UK at the moment.

EU will go running to the USA as soon as there is serious trouble despite the grandstanding.

Jas.

Yes cause nothing goes badly when the States of the EU go there own way /e rolls eyes…

EU is treating the UK? less Torygraph / Daily mail reading & you might talk some sense, sorry but bashing the EU for what defending its self & not bending a knee to JRM Boris or Foxs delusional view of Britain’s place in the world,
We chose to leave , we surely have to sort out the divorce & not cry foul every time the EU defends its interests.

Daniele Mandelli

You’re clearly a remoaner so I won’t bother replying to your points in depth., but the EU attempting to hamstring the City of London during and after the “transition” is not sitting out any divorce.

I will suggest to you too that you get your head out of the Guardian and bat for your own nation for once? Clearly many of you need to given your usual cliche crap about the Daily Mail.

Mike Saul

The USA spends 3.3% of its GDP on defence. Germany the economic power house of the EU spends 1.2%, if the EU really wishes to defend itself then their going to have a spend a lot more defence.

Vague commitments to reach the NATO target of 2% at some future date are more wishful thinking rather than reality.

That’s not EU bashing that’s the harsh truth.

farouk

POTUS has just sent congress the proposed budget for the DOD for the 2019 fiscal year. Here is what they are asking for:
Aircraft
77 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters
15 KC-46 Tanker Replacements
24 F/A-18s
60 AH-64E Attack Helicopters
6 VH-92 Presidential Helicopters
10 P-8A Aircraft
8 CH-53K King Stallion

Shipbuilding
2 Virginia Class Submarines
3 DDG-51 Arleigh Burke Destroyers
1 Littoral Combat Ship
CVN-78 Class Aircraft Carrier
2 Fleet Replenishment Oilers (T-AO)
1 Expeditionary Sea Base

Ground Systems
5,113 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles
135 M-1 Abrams Tank Modifications (261 Trophy APS systems)
30 Amphibious Combat Vehicles
197 Armoured Multi-Purpose Vehicles

Steven

Is that all ?

Mike Saul

What were you expecting then?

farouk

Actually no, 43 AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defence (SM-3) Ground Based Midcourse Defence 82 THAAD Ballistic Missile Defence 240 Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) Missile Segment Enhancements 5 Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles Global Positioning System Space Based Infrared System B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber – $2.3 billion Columbia Class Submarine – $3.7 billion Long-Range Stand-Off Missile – $0.6 billion Ground Based Strategic Deterrent – $0.3 billon 43,594 Joint Direct Attack Munitions – $1.2 billion 9,733 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) – $1.2 billion 6,826 Small Diameter Bomb I – $0.3 billion 1,260 Small Diameter Bomb II – $0.4 billion 7,045 Hellfire… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

What would be helpful if the Mod had a similar outline of WHAT it wants to procure per year with a budget outlined to match.

A sort of continuous “drumbeat” of regular orders to keep costs down and people employed, much like what Pacman regularly calls for, correctly, on here.

Instead reading MoDs equipment plan it is all smoke and mirrors with vast sums highlighted for areas like “land” 19 billion with no details WHATSOEVER on the how many and the when.

But this is deliberate so cuts can be carried out with little or no scrutiny.

Basically a dogs breakfast.

Dennis

You left out the New HIMARS launchers themselves and the new M777 artillery pieces, which i can see what they spent, but not how many they bought.

I also dispute they bought as many HIMARS rounds as you cite

Joe

Tough titties America…. the EU defence alliance has 1 goal, to replace NATO.

Europe doesn’t need and cannot afford 2 x competing military bureaucracies.
So NATO is going to have to head into the sunset

Bryan

There are some goods things happening with the EU defense. I’m not sure that they can come together to defeat an outside influence. I’m not sure they can come together to overcome their own influence. I believe EU defense vs NATO is more about letting eastern Europe slide to Russia while they do nothing(economic). The problem with EU is WWII. Not much has changed. Competition will become ugly between France, Italy and Germany. Without a daddy they will squabble. All the while Russian influence will increase. What makes EU fail is….they are not a country. They have no common goals… Read more »

Mike Saul

Europe is unable to defend itself from Russia.

The EU will have to treble its defence spending over a considerable time to address that situation.

The EU will not increase defence spending to anywhere near that level, so the EU is just political posturing on this issue along with with all the other bluffs it’s called on the Ukraine, former Yugoslavia, Libya and so on.

Joe

You have to realise Mike… the EU don’t give a sh*t about Russia… or jihadis…. or anything.

They just want to grow and grow their control over every facet of European government.

We all know that Europe on its own is militarily feeble.
However, when the Lisbon treaty cooked up the EU defence alliance over a decade ago, military competence was least of their concerns…. this is just about control.

Mike Saul

The point is who will have to bail out the EU if the worst happens?

I don’t want a repeat of 1914 and 1939 were the UK gets engaged in continental European war.

Best way to preserve the peace is to prepare for war and the best way to prepare is for Europe to be wholeheartedly behind NATO without any political EU sideshows.

Paul.P

Joe, you have hit the nail on the head. The fundamental weakness of the EU is its obsession with itself.

farouk

Mike wrote:
Europe is unable to defend itself from Russia.

Not exactly true, take out the Russian Nuke element and Russia comes out weaker than Europe. Why Poland on its own would give them a real hard time. Add the rest (EU) and Russia would get wasted in any military adventure west. The only ace Russia has is its Nuke arm, however that is negated somewhat by France and the Uk

Sean

So here’s how it’ll all go down… • The EU integrates member nation militaries to create a single military command, army, navy, etc • EU increasingly criticises the USA now that it has become a ‘superpower’ • Ethnic Russians in Baltic States begin rioting and launch insurgencies against their governments (cf the Ukraine for modus operandi) • Baltic States request assistance from fellow EU states • EU military/ paramilitary forces move through Kalingrad Gap to reinforce the Baltic States • While transiting the EU relief force is attacked by the supposed insurgents • EU troops while pursing insurgents stray into… Read more »

dadsarmy

A little bit surprising, and I think Stoltenberg needs to tread very carefully. As far as I can see PESCO doesn’t aim to replace NATO at all, but encourage closer co-operation within the EU over defence spending, and control, and who can complain about that? NORDEFCO does some co-operation, yet Norway for instance contributes above its weight to NATO operations. Juncker who is often accused of being a federalist and wanting a USE – United States of Europe had this to say yesterday: “I am strictly against a European superstate. We are not the United States of America, we are… Read more »

Paul.P

PESCO is just the seed that is supposed to grow into the EU army. Remember the coal and steel community? Its the insidious way the EU works.

SoleSurvivor

Some comments here are laughable. Can’t understand why anyone would not want the continent that shaped the modern world to be able to independently defend itself. You’re just so contradictary, when we were leaving it’s to “take back control” and “stand on our own feet” yet as soon as talk of Europe defending itself it’s “we can’t without America” have some respect for the importance and history of the European states, ourself included. People are too quick to scream “remoaner” when people try to make valid points. Britain having a say on world affairs is over, it has been like… Read more »