NATO, EU unite amid uncertainty posed by Trump
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the European Union (EU) yesterday made efforts at uniting in the face of criticism from United States (U.S.) president-elect, Donald Trump. They hailed their deepening cooperation as the U.S. president-elect insists European allies start pulling their own military weight.
In the presence of EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, NATO foreign ministers endorsed more than 40 proposals for boosting cooperation on cyber security, sea operations and helping neighboring countries better defend themselves.
“Today, we really mark a milestone in our effort to build cooperation,” NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, told reporters during a break in a two-day meeting in Brussels.
Trump lambasted European nations during his presidential campaign for not investing enough in defence and said he wanted NATO to do more to combat terrorism. Fewer than half a dozen of the 22 allies in the EU spend two per cent of their gross domestic product annually on defence, a threshold target set by NATO.
The U.S., by far NATO’s biggest funder, has for years demanded its partners to spend more, but Trump’s heated and unpredictable rhetoric has unsettled many allies.
They are also wary of Trump’s uncritical view of Vladimir Putin even as the Russian president makes more assertive use of his armed forces in Europe.
U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, appearing at his last NATO ministerial meeting, agreed that “unity is very, very important” for the defence alliance.
“We need to come together, to make sure there is a strong Europe, a strong NATO and that the values and the interests that we all share, we are continuing to work on together,” Kerry told ABCNews.
The Brussels meeting was aimed in part at reassuring the incoming U.S. administration that European allies are spending more and that the world’s biggest military alliance is already doing plenty to combat terrorism.
Trump to spell out exactly what more he believes they can do.
Despite doubts about what the future holds, Stoltenberg said he is “absolutely certain that the United States will remain committed to the trans-Atlantic bond, will remain committed to NATO and will live up to … the security guarantees to Europe.”
While NATO and the EU have 22 common members, cooperation between them has been hindered by different visions over which organisation should have primacy in defence matters.