If NATO’s current level of ambition is to be retained in the face of severe fiscal hardship, collective reforms and increased multinational collaboration are absolutely essential.
Q: The future of EU-US security and defence cooperation: what lies ahead?
Debate - 28 septembre 2011
Senior Policy Advisor
Washington should continue to work with national governments who share its approach to tackling the threats of today and tomorrow, and Brussels should simply get out of the way.
Security cooperation between the United States and the European Union is limited and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. The EU’s attempts to establish a common security policy are marred by a lack of leadership, credibility, legitimacy, military capability and popular support. Furthermore, the few areas where the United States has sought engagement with Brussels, such as information sharing, have been marked by confrontation rather than collaboration.
The standard European argument for a common security policy follows that members of the EU can exert greater influence in the world if they act together rather than separately. This argument operates under the false assumption that sovereignty can be traded for influence. As has more frequently been seen, the EU has been too slow, or even incapable of reacting to fast moving events.
Even if it were possible, a united European foreign policy would not be in Europe’s or America’s best interests. A lowest common denominator approach would be taken and it would restrict America’s closest allies from taking more forceful action alongside her. Rallying an EU flag behind a policy that lacks substance is hardly the stuff that security is made of.
In the few cases where the EU has taken the lead on policy, Washington has been dragged into a bureaucratic nightmare. The European Parliament has taken deeply obstructionist measures to stall and frustrate two vital data transfer deals – SWIFT and Passenger Name Records – and it continues to wield new powers granted to it by the Lisbon Treaty to lessen the value that these important agreements have.
Despite being seen as “pro-EU,” Barack Obama has clearly become disillusioned by Brussels’ antics, not to mention exhausted by the EU’s pointless summitry. Luckily for him, the EU has not replaced the essential bilateral relationships that have been formed between lawmakers, intelligence officers, security officials and diplomats over the years. Transatlantic security is reliant on this type of international cooperation and that is the best place for America to invest the bulk of its time and diplomacy. Washington should continue to work with national governments who share its approach to tackling the threats of today and tomorrow, and Brussels should simply get out of the way.