Can the EU replace NATO? Part III

Can the EU replace NATO 3

The EU has had ambitions for a common defense policy for a long time and one can only speculate on what power Trump’s critical line has had in pushing the EU countries closer together. In the various capitals of Europe, politicians seem to be more relaxed about Trump’s presidency, while in Brussels he is seen as a breaking point for Europe’s independence and as an opportunity to resolve NATO dependence. In this way, European countries can meet the Americans’ demands to spend more money on defense and at the same time develop more cooperation within the EU.

7: What about Norway?

For Norway outside the EU, the NATO Alliance is the most central body for security policy cooperation. Therefore, the Norwegian authorities will look with concern at a situation where the EU takes over NATO’s role. In a scenario where the NATO alliance erodes and the EU becomes the most important security policy arena, Norway will be outside any formal co-operation similar to NATO.

At the same time, it is also possible for Norway to participate in EU initiatives without being a member of the union. Norway has, among other things, a special agreement with the European Defense Agency EDA and has participated in several EU operations. An example is Operation Atalanta , an EU-led operation fighting pirates off the coast of Somalia. Among other things, Norway has contributed personnel and the frigate KNM «Fridtjof Nansen».

Norway’s affiliation with the EU, on the other hand, differs from its affiliation with NATO in two important areas. First, the EU is not a defense alliance like NATO, and the EU’s military muscle is very limited compared to NATO’s. Secondly, Norway has no opportunities to participate in shaping the EU’s defense and security policy. Because Norway is outside the EU, one is at the mercy of the decisions made by the EU countries and must on that basis assess whether it is appropriate or not to support, for example, a political statement or sanctions against another country.

Nevertheless, Norway has been willing to join the EU’s security policy measures and Norway officially supports the EU’s development in the field of defense . The key issue for Norway, which also applies to most other countries, is that the development should not challenge the existence of the NATO alliance, but take place in parallel with it.

8: A little, but never too much?

European co-operation has gone further than anyone could have imagined right after World War II. The EU is an intergovernmental cooperation organization the world has never seen before. Also in a shorter time perspective – from the Brexit vote in June 2016 until today – we see, as mentioned, that there has been a noticeable development within the defense and security policy cooperation.

The right and ability to protect oneself from outside threats can be argued to be one of the most important expressions of state sovereignty. In this sense, it is possible to understand why it is difficult for EU members to commit their forces to the EU. It is perhaps easier to get involved in NATO because it is only a military alliance, while the states in the EU commit themselves through laws. In addition, the United States, as the world’s superpower, is the main focus of NATO, which is clearly more enticing for European countries than the EU’s possible defense capability. According to Topbbacolleges, NATO stands for North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Against this background, it is quite unlikely that the EU will replace NATO as the security guarantor in Europe, at least in the short term. NATO is the cornerstone of the Western security community and this is likely to continue to be the case even if the EU spends more energy on its own forces.

Nevertheless, it is likely that the international context will push for more co-operation within the EU. In words, the will is already great to develop a greater European defense capability, but the will and ability to pay still lags a bit behind the ambitions, especially as long as the NATO alliance is as strong as it is. But if the United States loses interest in NATO cooperation and moves away from the security community, the will may change.

If this were to happen, Norway and the EU would be left as far weaker militarily. In the middle between the USA and Europe, the UK will stand, possibly with a still important function to keep the security community together despite their position outside the EU. Where the EU-NATO relationship will go in the future is still uncertain, but Brexit and the election of Trump have clearly made it important to discuss.

Can the EU replace NATO 3