On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron urged the European Union to take more action for its own security. He believes the EU shouldn’t rely on the United States so much and that it’s “up to us to meet our responsibilities and guarantee our security, and therefore European sovereignty.”
According to ABC News, he said discussions should include all European countries and even extend to Russia, on the condition that progress is made ending the conflict in Ukraine. Macron’s plan comes after President Trump’s repeated statements about how Europe needs to become more self-reliant in its defense.
Macron isn’t alone in his sentiments. Bloomberg reports that German Chancellor Angela Markel has also stated the EU needs to be more assertive. The two European leaders seem to agree that Europe must revise the alliances that were formed after the Cold War and change the “architecture” of its defense systems.
In a 90-minute speech which aimed to set the stage for France’s diplomacy for the next year, Macron said, “This reinforced solidarity will imply a revision of the European architecture of defense and security: by initiating a renewed dialogue on cybersecurity, chemical weapons, conventional weaponry, territorial conflicts, space security, the protection of the polar zones, in particular with Russia.”
Despite urging the EU to become more autonomous, Macron still called for continued talks with the U.S., stating that U.S. unilateralism didn’t begin under the Trump administration but followed on from actions taken during the Obama administration.
The NATO alliance with the United States is extremely important to countries like Poland and the Baltic states, which were under the rule of Moscow before the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. At a NATO summit last month, President Trump put more pressure on several European nations to increase their own defenses. He asked them to increase their defense spending to at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product, which is a goal that many NATO members do not meet. However, Germany plans on increasing its military spending to 1.5 percent of GDP by 2025.
In November 2017, the EU launched a program of joint military investment and project development. Twenty-three of the EU’s 28 nations joined the program, known as a permanent structured cooperation. However, Britain, which will be leaving the EU in March 2019, will not be participating. Denmark is also not joining.
France is also pushing for the implementation of the Minsk peace agreement to settle the fighting in Ukraine, which has caused the deaths of over 10,000 people since 2014.