World Bulletin / News Desk
Following her Washington visit last week as the first foreign leader to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump, May is set to urge EU leaders to increase defense spending.
However, French President Francois Hollande reacted to U.S. President Donald Trump’s criticisms of NATO and the EU, saying that the EU “must not imagine some sort of external protection.”
Hollande urged EU unity in face of the president of Trump’s possible threat, because "who knows what the U.S. president really wants, particularly in relation to the Atlantic alliance and burden-sharing?"
May told a joint press conference during her U.S. visit that London and Washington are unified on the subject of NATO.
“On defense and security cooperation, we are united in our recognition of NATO as the bulwark of our collective defense, and today we've reaffirmed our unshakable commitment to this alliance,” she said.
Turning to Trump at the press conference, May had tried to get a confirmation for her remarks from the new president: “Mr. President, I think you said, you confirmed that you're 100 percent behind NATO.”
“But we're also discussing the importance of NATO continuing to ensure it is as equipped to fight terrorism and cyber-warfare as it is to fight more conventional forms of war,” she added, hinting at the U.S. administration’s demands over NATO spending.
Ahead of Friday’s summit, Hollande said: “We in France have a defense policy. We fear nothing … We must have a European conception of our future. If not, there will be -- in my opinion -- no Europe and not necessarily any way for each of the countries to be able to exert an influence in the world.”
“What matters is solidarity at the EU level. We must not imagine some sort of external protection,” he added.
On Trump’s comments, he said, "It is unacceptable that pressure be put, through a certain number of statements by the president of the United States, on what Europe should be or should not be.”
Trump raised doubts about the future of EU and sharply criticized NATO last month in an interview with German daily Bild daily.
He argued that NATO had failed to address terrorism and today’s challenges.
"NATO had problems. Number one it was obsolete, because it was, you know, designed many, many years ago. Number two -- the countries aren’t paying what they’re supposed to pay,” he said.