World Bulletin / News Desk
Europe has to take care of its defence given the shift in US policy, European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said Friday, promoting a hefty defence fund announced by Brussels.
"Over the past decade, it has become crystal clear that our American partners consider that they are shouldering too much of the burden for their wealthy European allies," he said.
On Wednesday, the EU unveiled an unprecedented plan to set up a 5.5-billion-euro ($6.15-billion) a year fund, following a Franco-German led bid to focus on security and defence to provide a new sense of purpose after last year's Brexit vote shook Europe.
"We have no other choice than to defend our own interests in the Middle East, in climate change, in our trade agreements by stepping up our efforts on defence and by doing so together," Juncker said.
US President Donald Trump, who follows an "America First" policy, berated his European partners on military spending at a raucous NATO summit in Brussels last month.
Juncker said the EU would not compete with NATO, with which it shares 22 members, adding: "NATO has been and will remain the cornerstone of European security for decades. We are different but we complement each other."
NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller said the alliance welcomed the proposed fund.
"A stronger European defence means a stronger NATO and a stronger NATO means a stronger European defence," she said, adding that neither NATO nor the EU could tackle current challenges alone.
Juncker said it was up to the member states, not the EU, to launch the programme.
"We do support the member states to take this decision as soon as possible," he said, calling on EU members to "wake the sleeping beauty" of article 42 of the EU's crunch Lisbon Treaty on common security and defence policy.
Deputy European Commission chief Jyrki Katainen urged EU members to work together to avoid duplications in defence investment which would result in a "security deficit".
France's new minister of the armed services, Sylvie Goulard, said the EU would encourage bilateral or multilateral initiatives among member states that go "in the right direction".
"The more we pool our forces in a very concrete way on logistics, on transportation, on medical support, on training of the troops of these countries, the better for all of us," she said.Last Mod: 09 Haziran 2017, 16:09