The European Security and Defense Policy: A Challenge to theTransatlantic Security Alliance

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The European Security and Defense Policy: A Challenge to theTransatlantic Security Alliance

July 18, 2007 34 min read Download Report
Sally McNamara
Sally McNamara

Sally McNamara is a Senior Policy Analyst in European Affairs.

The terrorist attacks on New York and Washington in 2001, Madrid in 2004, and London in 2005 pro­foundly demonstrate the new security threats facing the West. Transnational terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and unstable or failed states present daunting challenges to the entire Euro-Atlantic community and require a long-term sustained response.

It is essential that Europe rise to the challenge of these new threats. Finding the right strategic and structural balance is equally imperative. A strong Europe of independent self-determining nation-states invested in NATO and protected by NATO will con­tribute far more to transatlantic security than will a deeply integrated European Union (EU) usurping NATO's role.

The European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) has emerged as one of the biggest attempts to expand EU power to date, centralizing the most important tools of nation-statehood. The militarization of the European Union marks one of the greatest geopolitical shifts in the transatlantic alliance since the end of the Second World War. As a political initiative, it embod­ies the worst elements of European animosity toward the United States and would fundamentally under­mine the NATO alliance and the Anglo-American Special Relationship.

A Challenge to the Transatlantic Alliance

Since its establishment in 1998, the ESDP has been fashioned by EU elites into a military identity distinct from and independent of NATO. It has become a tool for projecting European power in the world and promoting the EU as a global actor. The EU has long used institutional program-building to advance its centralizing and integrationist policies, and the ESDP is critical to achieving "ever closer union."

The ESDP's Franco-British Foundations. When British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac heralded the ESDP at St. Malo, France, in 1998, it was reasonable to assume that Blair envisioned an ESDP very different from the one envisioned by Chirac--an ESDP that would complement NATO, not rival it. On the other hand, the French have long coveted a European defense identity specifically to counter American global power. Through a supranational foray into foreign policy areas such as military operations, the ESDP became Chirac's latest ruse to rival America. When EU elites talk about the balance of power, they mean that the EU should balance American hyperpuis­sance.[1] As Lady Margaret Thatcher stated:

France has for many years wanted to see an alternative military power to an American-led NATO. The European Union's plans for a separate integrated European defence pro­vided the French with a unique opportunity to achieve this goal.[2]

Rather than meaningfully address shared transat­lantic security challenges, the militarization of the EU through the ESDP actually presents a number of challenges by itself. The U.S. should not confuse its desire to see European countries take on more secu­rity and defense responsibilities, both in Europe and in the wider world, with the ramifications of further European military integration--especially in terms of America's ability to build alliances. The potential to destabilize the successful transatlantic security alliance has never been greater, and in that respect, the ESDP should not be viewed as an effective stra­tegic partnership.

Alliance-building is increasingly problematic for Washington under the ESDP. Turkey's membership in NATO and Greece's and Cyprus's memberships in the EU present a profound conflict for the two orga­nizations. EU access to NATO assets under the 2003 Berlin-Plus arrangements has (rightly) long been a matter of great concern to Turkey--one of the few NATO allies that is spending up to par on its defense--and remains a point of contention between these conflicting and competing alliances.

The EU's Operation Concordia in Macedonia was delayed precisely because of this conflict. Under the ESDP, Operation Concordia was scheduled to replace NATO's Operation Amber Fox on October 26, 2002. However, prolonged Greek-Turkish negotiations on mutual assurances between the EU and NATO meant that Operation Concordia was not launched until March 31, 2003.[3] This demon­strates the inherent problem with duplicate struc­tures and the serious political challenges for the U.S. in managing global alliances.

Central and Eastern European countries have long worried that divisions created by the ESDP might lead America to abandon its interests on the European continent. Because of their history, they have been the first to recognize the strategic threat to them and to wider Europe. NATO, backed by the United States, was a direct guarantor of their safety and security for most of the 20th century, facing down the Soviet Union from a position of strength.

Poland and the Czech Republic have both staked enormous political capital on moving forward with America's proposed ballistic missile defense installa­tions in their countries to shore up their bilateral alliances with the United States and make a solid contribution to NATO. However, they are equally engrossed in other challenges, as National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley has noted:

The new members have generally deferred to the precedents and policies of the old mem­bers. Preoccupied with neighbourhood affairs and accession subsidies, they have not ob­structed the more ambitious out-of-area for­ays of the core members.[4]

America must therefore shore up its bilateral rela­tions with these countries and encourage them to pursue security and defense agendas that are com­mensurate with the aims of the transatlantic alliance and their own broader strategic interests. For exam­ple, the European ballistic missile installations allow America to extend its own security umbrella and protect its European allies at the same time.

While the ESDP currently comes under the sec­ond of the EU's three policy areas, or pillars, it is tre­mendous institutional pressure from below that determines common political positions in advance of the European Council's quarterly meetings. Gen­eral guidelines, political direction, and strategic management of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) are set before the European Council meetings, with multiple committees and complex institutional arrangements predetermining much of the eventual outcome. The European Commission is fully associated with the CFSP, currently taking the right of policy initiative and managing the CFSP budget line. The fact that the European Defense Agency (EDA) already takes decisions by qualified majority voting is a major departure for such high-level strategic decision-making.

Under the proposed EU Reform Treaty, things will certainly get worse in terms of diminishing EU member states' sovereignty. The Reform Treaty proposes:

The Union's competence in matters of com­mon foreign and security policy shall cover all areas of foreign policy and all questions relat­ing to the Union's security, including the pro­gressive framing of a common defence policy that might lead to a common defence.[5]

Under the treaty, a beefed-up foreign minister would have the right to speak in the U.N. Security Council and the power to appoint EU envoys. The EU has already undertaken more than a dozen mis­sions under the CFSP's European Security and Defense Policy. With an enhanced profile and bud­get, a diplomatic corps, and the right to speak on Britain's behalf in multilateral institutions, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Secu­rity Policy would not enjoy the official title of for­eign minister, but he would enjoy its powers and responsibilities.

The Special Relationship. The institutional and political constraints demanded by further European integration will severely limit Britain's ability to build international alliances and make foreign pol­icy. The biggest damage will be done to Britain's enduring alliance with the United States. British-based EU commentator Christopher Booker argues that the integration of British military arrangements with the European Union represents a fundamental threat to the Special Relationship:

The nature of this new military relationship with her European partners will make it in­creasingly hard for the UK either to fight in­dependently or to co-operate militarily with the US. That "special relationship" which has been the cornerstone of British defense pol­icy from the time of the Second World War up to the recent US-British coalition in Iraq will be at an end.[6]

British academic Richard North maintains that the "secret" realignment of the U.K.'s procurement policy demonstrates the gulf opening up between the U.K. and U.S.[7] North notes that two competing and "incompatible" high-tech warfare systems are being developed by America and Europe and demonstrates Britain's systematic realignment toward the latter. Tony Blair's decision to opt for the more expensive French Meteor missiles rather than the tried and tested American Raytheon missiles is just one in a long line of decisions highlighting the increasingly America-averse direction of British procurement pol­icy since the ESDP's inception. The sheer expense and unreliability of this deal also challenges the myth that Europe-wide procurement is the best way to address defense underspending in Europe.

Procurement is abstract, technical, and politi­cally nontoxic, rarely making the front pages, but this does not mean that a wider political agenda is not at work. "For those who would seek to see a European army replace NATO," as British Shadow Defense Secretary Liam Fox has observed, "defence procurement offers the perfect means of undermin­ing the Special Relationship by stealth."[8]

In fact, procurement goes to the heart of why the Special Relationship is special. In his seminal post­war "Sinews of Peace" speech, Winston Churchill said that interoperable capabilities, personnel exchanges, and doctrinal commonality were the lynchpins of the Special Relationship.[9]

The EU understands Churchill's thesis very well. The European Security and Defense College, estab­lished in 2005 for the exchange of key military per­sonnel among EU member states, will be critical to fostering shared camaraderie and doctrinal under­standing of the EU's approach to security and defense policy in the longer term. The development of personal and professional relationships between British and American military personnel has sus­tained the Special Relationship for many years, just as the U.S.'s International Military Education and Training program has been an incredibly successful tool of U.S. defense policy more generally.

The EU is also seeking to address another ele­ment of Churchill's thesis. Aware of its serious lack of overall capability and integrated capacity in intel­ligence, airlift, and high-tech weaponry, the EDA has been mandated to develop extensive defense capabilities, promote armaments cooperation, and build up a European military-industrial base.[10] The EDA has a long-term visionfor centralizing pro­curement at a European level and integrating mili­tary capacity-building.[11] As EU High Representative and EDA Chairman Javier Solana has said:

Given the lead times typically involved in developing defence capability, decisions we take, or fail to take, today will affect whether we have the right military capabilities, and the right capacities in Europe's defence tech­nological and industrial base, in the third de­cade of this century.[12]

With hard-pressed defense budgets and the enormous costs associated with modern high-tech weaponry, defense expenditures must take on a more global character. As the technological revolu­tion rolls on, the interoperability of defense systems will likely become not just desirable, but essential to joint military efforts. In this respect, jointly funded, interoperable projects which deliberately exclude non-EU countries should not be a policy goal of the European Union. In the age of digital warfare, pro­curement decisions are absolutely critical, but they are now just as political as they are strategic. With Europe's dual desire to create a stronger defense industrial base and to advance an alternate warfare system, the procurement agenda has become skewed against sensible military budgeting and more about the EU's political agenda.

As EU military planners continue their aggres­sive pursuit of an integrationist agenda, the Special Relationship will undoubtedly suffer as British inde­pendence as a military power (and buyer) is restrained. If Britain continues to relinquish the most critical elements of sovereign statehood to Brussels--the right to military action and autono­mous foreign policy-making--the British govern­ment will become little more than a local authority, either unable or unwilling to partner with the U.S. on military missions, even when they clearly serve Britain's national interest. As Heritage Foundation analyst Nile Gardiner has observed:

The most prominent casualty of a fully de­veloped EU Common Foreign and Security Policy would be the Anglo-U.S. special rela­tionship, forcibly consigned to the scrap heap of history. America's closest ally would be unable to operate an independent foreign policy and stand alongside the United States where and when it chose to do so. The con­sequences for America would be hugely damaging.[13]

Has the ESDP Been Successful?

The Western European Union's Petersburg tasks were later adopted as EU policy in the 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam and outline the operations that the ESDP can undertake: humanitarian and rescue tasks, peacekeeping tasks, and crisis management including the deployment of combat troops in peacemaking operations.

It would be wrong to say that the ESDP has not enjoyed some limited operational success in the low-level, modest missions that it has undertaken. Operation Concordia in Macedonia, the EU's first military operation, eventually took over from NATO after the prolonged dispute between Greece and Turkey. Followed by civilian policing missions Proxima and EUPAT, Operation Concordia employed large numbers of the same troops from the preceding NATO contingent, who merely oper­ated under a different insignia. Exactly the same can be said for Operation Althea in Bosnia: "when Euro­pean Forces (EuFor) took over nine years after NATO forces imposed peace on the war-torn coun­try, many of the troops simply changed their shoul­der patches."[14] However, both of these missions went relatively smoothly and contributed margin­ally to the West's joint overall success by putting Macedonia and Bosnia on a better footing toward increased stability.

The U.S. Department of State has interpreted the smooth handover of Althea to the EU and the com­petent handling of other civilian missions as a model for future NATO-ESDP cooperation.[15] Com­bined with the EU's willingness to go into areas like Aceh, where the U.S. does not have a primary inter­est, it has left successive U.S. Administrations with a somewhat favorable impression of the ESDP. This not only ignores the plethora of other international actors and existing structures (e.g., the African Union, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and United Nations) that could undertake the same mis­sions, but also ignores the latent strategic threat posed by the ESDP and its shortcomings.

The military and civilian presence of the Euro­pean Union has been more about promoting the EU's integrationist agenda than about making a truly meaningful contribution to international sta­bility. The sheer lack of EU commitment to facing today's most serious foreign policy challenges, such as Iraq and Iran, demonstrates not only the ESDP's limitations, but, more important, the EU's pro­foundly different global outlook.

Iran is a particularly striking example. Not only is the European Union Iran's largest trading partner, accounting for 35 percent of Iran's total imports, but Germany, France, and Italy provide billions of dol­lars in government-backed export credit guarantees to minimize the risks to private companies of doing business with this unstable and unpredictable regime. The Wall Street Journal notes that total EU trade with Tehran has increased since the discovery of the Iranian nuclear program.[16] Italy and Ger­many currently rank as Iran's second and third larg­est trading partners, respectively, having moved up in the rankings in recent years.[17]

This makes a mockery of the two U.N. Security Council resolutions calling for graduated and tar­geted sanctions against Tehran. It makes a bigger mockery of the idea that the EU should be trusted to take the lead in negotiations with Iran over its ura­nium enrichment program as long as the EU contin­ues to provide a front for the business interests of its major member states and a buffer to a repressive and odious regime.

The sheer gulf that opened up across the Atlantic over Operation Iraqi Freedom saw EU elites not only critique, but also obstruct American foreign policy. EU candidate countries were even threat­ened with delays in their accession for supporting the war.[18]

Underlying this diplomatic crisis was the mes­sage that Europe's time had come to directly chal­lenge a sovereign U.S. foreign policy decision in an attempt to contain American leadership. It was also a direct challenge by the Brussels elite to the elected governments of the 12 EU member states that finally participated in the coalition of the willing in 2004. The United States should expect to see such challenges increase with further European integra­tion, which will greatly undermine America's stron­gest partners in Europe.

Limitations.It should also be noted that not all ESDP missions have gone smoothly. Sylvie Pantz, head of the EUJUST THEMIS mission in Georgia, complained of unnecessary red tape and bureau­cratic delays in the year-long mission, which took more than four months to acquire computers.[19] However, more than suffering minor embarrass­ments, the EU's behavior in Darfur in 2005 demon­strated the real nature of its uncooperative attitude toward NATO.

When the African Union (AU) requested airlift capacity from the EU, the U.S., and Canada in June 2005, it was widely expected that NATO would coordinate the response at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe. However, the EU insisted on European "branding" for the operation by using the European Airlift Centre at Eindhoven. When agree­ment could not be reached, two separate airlifts were established for the AU to coordinate. As Defense News said in its analysis of the situation, the EU "shuns overt joint initiatives."[20]

It is increasingly obvious that the EU favors inde­pendent action and cooperates with NATO only when it needs NATO assets. The ESDP's guiding principles specifically outline the EU's "determina­tion to develop an autonomous capacity to take deci­sions."[21] Operation Artemis in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2003 used no NATO assets and was the first EU mission outside of Europe, tak­ing place in the aftermath of deep transatlantic divi­sions over the Iraq war. France spearheaded this military campaign at the specific request of the United Nations, which then subsumed it a year later.

There are differing opinions over whether Arte­mis was successful or not. Denis Boyles argues that the recipe of "French troops and UN wis­dom. . . yielded not just an 'enorme statistique de mor­talite violente'--with some 50,000 dead and 10 times that number displaced--but also an enor­mous military and moral failure as well."[22] Interna­tional security experts Jean-Yves Haine and Bastian Giegerich argue that the EU's failure to guarantee Congo's continued stability since Artemis has been the bigger failure, combined with an overall lack of strategic vision and nightmare operational caveats that deploy the majority of EU troops as far away from the trouble as possible.[23]

Both scenarios demonstrate the limits of the ESDP. Moreover, the EU's desire to act is seemingly motivated less by altruism and more by its need to be seen as a global actor with clout on the interna­tional stage.

Capabilities. The world clearly needs European countries to increase their military and civilian capabilities and take on more responsibility for their security needs. However, how this is handled is crit­ically important.

Following the Feira Summit in 2000, the EU out­lined its goals for EU-level civilian crisis manage­ment capabilities and has not only met, but even exceeded expectations, with 5,700 police officers, 630 legal experts, 560 civilian administration experts, and 5,000 civil protection experts currently available to the EU.

Having outlined multiple areas of military defi­ciency in the 2001 European Capabilities Action Plan and emboldened by the rapid progress of the Feira goals, the EU set equally ambitious goals to arm, equip, and man itself. Member states have made available from their national resources a pool of 100,000 personnel, 400 combat aircraft, and 100 naval vessels under ESDP commitments, together with a host of other commitments to new EU struc­tures. Under the Headline Goal 2010, the EU now has fully operational, rapidly deployable battle groups, which can be deployed at the U.N.'s request using strategic lift equipment that the EU plans to acquire. This year, the EU also opened its own oper­ations center in Brussels, recently running a plan­ning exercise for a peacekeeping mission in the fictional African country of Alisia.[24]

At present, though, the European Union still has serious capability shortcomings. As a Brussels mili­tary planner said, "[T]he EU is still a paper tiger in defenses.. . . But as for the future, it is steadily slot­ting into place the instruments it needs for ESDP."[25]

And there is the rub. While the ESDP has been busy building separate doctrinal and operational structures to distinguish itself from NATO, it has failed to realize an increase in men or spending by EU member states. The serious manpower com­mitments to both the EU and NATO present the potential for acute conflict. Just five of the 21 EU- NATO members spend the NATO benchmark of 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) on defense.[26] The flatlining and even declining defense budgets of most major European coun­tries mean that valuable resources will merely be diverted from NATO to the ESDP.

The EU has adopted a twin-track approach to addressing its capabilities shortfall. Not only did it create multiple agencies, plans, and goals to realize operational capacity and separate itself as a deci­sion-making power, but it negotiated the 2003 Ber­lin-Plus arrangements on the EU's use of NATO assets and capabilities. The Berlin-Plus arrange­ments ensure EU access to NATO operational plan­ning and presume the availability to the EU of NATO capabilities and common assets. Berlin-Plus also ensures the adaptation of the NATO defense planning system to facilitate the availability of forces for EU operations.

If nothing else, the EU is a savvy negotiator. While creating duplicate institutions that under­mine NATO, the EU has ensured access to NATO's taxpayer-funded equipment.

Of course, Europe has called on NATO resources when it needed them. In the absence of increased defense spending and with the slow Europeaniza­tion of procurement policy, the EU has managed to negotiate the best of both worlds--a supranational public policy independent of American influence that is at least partly funded by America.

For example, Operation Concordia in Macedonia drew on NATO resources; but while Operation Con­cordia certainly complemented U.S. policy, Wash­ington should not mistake low-level operational success with the wider strategic threat that ESDP poses to the NATO alliance. In fact, it begs the ques­tion of why America should be expected to lend NATO resources to countries that explicitly reject American global leadership. Notably, NATO does not have any kind of quid pro quo arrangement for access to the EU's extensive civilian capabilities.

Most European nations need to continue their vast military transformations into modern, interop­erable fighting machines. With its existing expertise and American leadership, NATO's Allied Command Transformation (ACT) is a perfect vehicle for addressing these shortfalls and determining each member's exact contribution to NATO. Even NATO members without high-end expeditionary capabili­ties could often offer a specialized role to the alli­ance, such as the Czech Republic's nuclear, biological, and chemical defense capabilities.[27] ACT, not the duplicate European Defense Agency, should be the primary vehicle for cooperation and collaboration among NATO members in streamlin­ing and improving Europe's defense capabilities.

Many analysts point to the EU's profound capa­bilities shortfall as exemplifying why America should not really be concerned by the ESDP. How­ever, even though the EU lacks military capability when compared to NATO, it has made substantial doctrinal and organizational progress and has cre­ated an infrastructure dedicated to its progress, with plans for the assets to follow. As British Shadow Defense Secretary Liam Fox has argued, the estab­lishment of institutions is a prelude to an overall increase in the EU's capabilities, further decoupling it from NATO.[28]

Global Policymaking. The EU views itself as a global power with a significant role to play in for­eign affairs.[29] As Lady Thatcher noted, "the Euro­pean superstate is. . . designed by its architects to become a superpower."[30] The EU's determination to make decisions independently of NATO has not, however, kept it from prostrating itself before the United Nations. In fact, the EU mirrors much of the U.N. agenda and its global ambitions. The EU's 2003 European Security Strategy calls for "an inter­national order based on effective multilateralism"[31] and for strengthening the U.N. and its body of inter­national law to preside globally.

The European Parliament's 2006 year-long inves­tigation of America's rendition policy, based on the flimsiest of evidence, served less as an independent investigatory committee than as a Trojan horse intended to rein in the American-led war on terror­ism. The committee concluded:

[A]fter 11 September 2001, the so-called 'war on terror'--in its excesses--has pro­duced a serious and dangerous erosion of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as noted by the outgoing UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.[32]

As Europe develops the tools of military adven­ture and a foreign policy specifically around the idea that American power must be constrained, military action will become something that is taken only with the explicit approval of the international community, regardless of a nation's security. The EU's global view is fundamentally different from that of the United States, placing full faith in "multilateralism as the best means to solve global problems."[33] Speaking in New York in 2005, External Relations Commis­sioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner argued that security and prosperity are in fact dependent on effective multilateral systems.[34] For the United States, how­ever, security is not something subject to negotiation with bureaucrats in Turtle Bay or Brussels.


The EU continues to claim publicly that the ESDP complements NATO and that NATO remains the cornerstone of the transatlantic secu­rity alliance. However, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder blew apart that cosmetic cover story when he told a Munich security conference in February 2005 that NATO "is no longer the pri­mary venue where transatlantic partners discuss and coordinate strategies."[35] As Robin Harris, a former member of the Downing Street Policy Unit, has written, "The NATO Web site proudly boasts that there is a 'strategic partnership' between NATO and the EU. There is no such thing, only an incipient strategic competition between America and Europe."[36]

It is worth looking at the ESDP's constituent parts and how far they in fact merely replicate NATO instruments. The EU's crisis response battle groups are copied from NATO'sResponse Force (NRF). The purpose of the European Defense Agency is identical to NATO's Allied Command Transformation initiative. The EU's GALILEO global satellite navigation system is a carbon copy of Amer­ica's global positioning system. These EU structures are unnecessary and present a profound challenge to the future of the NATO alliance.

While numerous instruments allow for EU- NATO cooperation, the essential fact remains that the EU has created the ESDP with the sole purpose of acting autonomously in military and civilian mis­sions in competition with a military organization that it wishes to rival. Although they share 21 com­mon members, the EU-NATO relationship will always be contrived, as The Economist notes: "[T]he two bodies are like Siamese twins awkwardly joined together. They are many organs--soldiers, equip­ment and military planners--but their separate heads do not get on."[37]

If European powers genuinely wish to comple­ment NATO, they could do so very easily by spend­ing more on defense and rapidly modernizing their militaries. NATO has undertaken key transforma­tion initiatives to become a leaner, more effective fighting machine, using innovative instruments such as the NRF to face the strategic challenges of the 21st century. NATO's Allied Command Trans­formation presents a comprehensive plan to improve military effectiveness and interoperability, support alliance operations, and provide a "credi­ble, sustainable and agile organization."[38]

In that respect, Washington should be very wary of attempts to separate allies' procurement agendas from its own. The EDA's Steering Board recently announced a three-year, €54 million joint invest­ment program funded by member states under the EU's centralized direction. EU management of large investment projects in the military arena is worri­some too, "since NATO is the only defense organi­zation today with a proven track record of bringing large, strategic, multinational programs into exist­ence."[39] The collapse of the public-private consor­tium behind the GALILEO satellite navigation system and the EU's intention to step in and finan­cially support the failed project with up to €3.4 bil­lion of taxpayers' money demonstrate the EU's complete inability to manage large-scale multina­tional projects.[40]

NATO should also be reluctant to have its assets used in non-Allied missions for the very reason that the participation of non-NATO members in opera­tions using NATO assets raises huge questions about future technology transfers. Already a hot political topic, it adds yet another layer of tension to an increasingly divergent relationship.

The challenges of reforming NATO are many and should not be underestimated. However, the ESDP is part of the problem, not the solution. By its very design, the ESDP is a challenge to NATO's primacy. NATO ensures an interdependent, collective defense community, whereas the ESDP decouples, duplicates, and discriminates against wider transat­lantic interests.[41]

When the Clinton Administration warned against "the three Ds"--decoupling, duplication, and dis­crimination--it could not have predicted the turn of events over the past decade more accurately. Euro­pean decision-making is being deliberately decou­pled from transatlantic channels; force planning, command structures, and procurement policies are being duplicated; and non-EU NATO members are subjected to discrimination. As Lady Thatcher observed, "far from serving to strengthen the Euro­pean contribution to NATO, the EU countries under French inspiration have deliberately embarked upon the creation of at best an alternative and at worst a rival military structure and armed forces."[42]

What the United States and Britain Should Do

High-level American support for the ESDP has been lukewarm on both sides of the political divide. President George W. Bush's tepid endorsement at Camp David in 2001 following a meeting with Tony Blair was undoubtedly given on Blair's word that NATO would still be the primary security actor in the transatlantic alliance.[43] While these assurances were almost certainly given in good faith, they have since turned out to be false. The ESDP is neither what the British envisioned nor what NATO needs.

Both America and Britain should act to ward off damage to the Special Relationship by investing heavily in the bilateral relationship and continuing their close alliance, which was so forcefully reaf­firmed in the wake of 9/11. Specifically:

  • NATO's primacy should remain sacrosanct for addressing the 21st century's transatlantic security challenges. The United States should stress the importance of NATO as the cornerstone of the transatlantic security alliance and empha­size Allied Command Transformation's role in coordinating member states' transformation initi­atives and capability requirements. The United States must work closely with its European allies to ensure that the alliance's collective and broader needs are a primary focus of member states' ongoing modernization programs and should spend its foreign military financing budget as effectively as possible to fulfill its stated purpose of "promoting U.S. interests around the world."[44]

  • NATO members must commit to being full and active members of the alliance. The United States should ensure that current and future NATO alliance partners are prepared to dis­charge their membership obligations fully. Alli­ance members should commit to the NATO benchmark of spending 2 percent of GDP on defense and approve long-term and, where nec­essary, supplemental budgets to fund ongoing and future commitments.

  • The U.S. should orient its defense policy to strengthen bilateral and NATO ties with its European allies and explicitly withdraw from alliance-building with the ESDP. The Adminis­tration should prioritize the participation of more NATO allies in the International Military Educa­tion and Training program. It should also continue to develop the NRF and emphasize it as the primary actor for multilateral expeditionary operations.

  • The U.S. should reserve NATO resources exclusively for NATO missions. All European military missions should be funded exclusively by EU member states. U.S. taxpayers should not subsidize European military adventures.

  • The British government should withdraw from the ESDP immediately. In defense of the Special Relationship and to maintain the Anglo- American alliance, the British government should explicitly withdraw from further Euro­pean military integration.


Member of the European Parliament Roger Helmer (Conservative-U.K.) has said:

The CFSP and its military posturing threaten to undermine the Transatlantic Alliance. It is born out of jealousy and resentment and anti-Americanism. It is overweight with strategies and planning papers and staff colleges but desperately light on men and ships and tanks and guns and aircraft. The CFSP threatens the very foundations of security and leaves us all dangerously exposed in an unpredict­able world. This is yet another reason why my country would be better off out of the European Union.[45]

NATO has been the most successful security alli­ance in modern history and represents America's solid commitment to transatlantic security. It has secured peace in Europe and has grappled with the changing geopolitical environment better than any other multilateral institution. The creation of dupli­cate military structures with autonomous decision-making powers independent of NATO represents a major geopolitical rupture between Europe and Washington that serves neither side.

European countries disregard NATO at their peril. As independent nation-states, European nations have the ability to pursue any number of policy options and engage militarily in many contexts. However, the European Security and Defense Policy supranationalizes such huge swathes of public policymaking that such choices become increasingly difficult.

Instead, EU member states need to preserve pre­cious defense investment for those public policy programs that most directly contribute to their own safety, security, and strategic interests. It is equally vital that the U.S. recognize the value of dealing with its enduring allies on a bilateral level. Brussels has become an increasingly assertive trade partner, unafraid to square off against Washington; it is now trying to assert itself just as aggressively in foreign and military policy as well.

Sally McNamara is Senior Policy Analyst in Euro­pean Affairs in the Margaret Thatcher Center for Free­dom, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation.

[1] Former Socialist French Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine (1997-2002) coined the word hyperpuissance, which means hyperpower, to define America's political, military, and economic strength after the Cold War.

[2] Margaret Thatcher, Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World (New York: HarperCollins, 2002), p. 354.

[3] Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Southeast Europe Project, "Greek-Turkish Dispute Leads to Extended NATO Command of Peacekeeping Force," October 18, 2002, at (July 9, 2007).

[4] Stephen Hadley, "European Defence Policy: A Political Analysis," New Zealand International Review, Vol. 30, No. 6 (November 1, 2005).

[5] European Council, "Presidency Conclusions: Brussels European Council," June 21-22, 2007, p. 26.

[6] Christopher Booker, "Foreword," in Richard North, Ph.D., "The Wrong Side of the Hill: The 'Secret' Realignment of UK Defence Policy," Defense Industry Daily, August 2005, p. 2, at /static/reportimages/6F9CA3089BBD2628916E6498734A841A.pdf (June 22, 2007).

[7] North, "The Wrong Side of the Hill," p. 30.

[8] Liam Fox, Ph.D., "Security and Defense: Making Sense of the Special Relationship," Heritage Foundation Lecture No. 939, April 27, 2006, at

[9] Winston S. Churchill, "The Sinews of Peace," address delivered at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri, March 5, 1946, at (June 22, 2007).

[10] European Defence Agency, "Background," at (June 22, 2007).

[11] European Defence Agency, "An Initial Long-Term Vision for European Defence Capability and Capacity Needs," October 2006, at (June 22, 2007).

12] Press release, "EU Defence Ministers Welcome Long-Term Vision for European Capability Needs,"European Defence Agency, October 3, 2006, at (June 22, 2007).

[13] Nile Gardiner, Ph.D., "Trends in the European Union and Russia: Implications for the United States," Heritage Foundation Lecture No. 996, October 28, 2006, at

[14] Nicholas Fiorenza, "EuFor, Backed by NATO; New Force in Bosnia Relies on Alliance Troops with Experience in the Region," Armed Forces Journal, February 2005.

[15] U.S. Department of State, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, "U.S.-EU Foreign Policy Cooperation," February 17, 2005, at (June 28, 2007).

[16] Editorial, "Europe and the Mullahs--How the EU Subsidizes Trade with Iran," Opinion Journal, February 20, 2007, at (July 9, 2007).

[17] American Enterprise Institute, "Global Business in Iran: Interactive," updated June 18, 2007, at (July 9, 2007).

[18] Adam Daniel Rotfeld, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, "Special Guest: Primum Non Nocere," interview, The Polish Voice, April 4, 2003, at (December 7, 2006).

[19] European Information Service, "Interview: Georgia-Type Advisory Mission Could Suit Other Countries, Said Sylvia Pantz," European Report,July 23, 2005.

[20] Tigner Brooks, "Policies Diverge: EU, NATO Struggle to Find Common Ground on International Security," Defense News, November 20, 2006.

[21] European Council, "Presidency Conclusions: Nice European Council Meeting," December 7-9, 2000, at (June 22, 2007).

[22] Denis Boyles, "The Joy of Hopelessness¸" National Review, September 24, 2004, at (June 22, 2007).

[23] Jean-Yves Haine and Bastian Giegerich, "In Congo, a Cosmetic EU Operation," International Herald Tribune, June 12, 2006, at (July 9, 2007).

[24] Associated Press, "EU Says NATO Will Benefit from New European Military Center," International Herald Tribune, June 13, 2007, at (July 9, 2007).

[25] Brooks, "Policies Diverge."

[26] NATO International Staff, "NATO-Russia Compendium of Financial and Economic Data," December 18, 2006, at /static/reportimages/7AC74177A0058CBBF0A011D870EBFD59.pdf (June 22, 2007).

[27] Michèle A. Flournoy and Julianne Smith, Lead Investigators, European Defense Integration: Bridging the Gap Between Strategy and Capabilities,Center for Strategic and International Studies, October 2005, at 0510_eurodefensereport.pdf (June 22, 2007).

[28] Liam Fox, "The Europeanisation of Defence," Center for Policy Studies, June 19, 2006.

[29] European Commission, "The European Union and the United States: Global Partners, Global Responsibilities," at /static/reportimages/9F1EFB73CB7AEDAFFC2851F0C90EF0D0.pdf (June 22, 2007).

[30] Thatcher, Statecraft, p. 354.

[31] European Union Institute for Security Studies, "A Secure Europe in a Better World: European Security Strategy," December 2003, at /static/reportimages/2D9CCA73853F7EA77CCF9784712738D2.pdf (June 22, 2007).

[32] Transportation and Illegal Detention of Prisoners, European Parliament resolution 2006/2200(INI), February 14, 2007, at /static/reportimages/E32454F14A304FF8968925D91695069F.pdf (June 22, 2007).

[33] See European Commission, "The European Union and the United States: Global Partners, Global Responsibilities."

[34] Benita Ferrero-Waldner,"Old World, New Order: Europe's Place in the International Architecture of the 21st Century," Euro­pean Union Studies Center, City University of New York, September 15, 2005, at (July 9, 2007).

[35] Agence France-Presse, "German Leader Stands by Contentious NATO Reform Plan,"February 15, 2005.

[36] Robin Harris, Beyond Friendship: The Future of Anglo-American Relations (Washington, D.C.: The Heritage Foundation, 2006), p. 91, at

[37] "NATO's Future: Predictions of Its Death Were Premature," The Economist, November 23, 2006, at (June 22, 2007).

[38] NATO Allied Command Transformation, "Vision Statement," at (June 22, 2007).

[39] Flournoy and Smith, European Defense Integration, p. 13.

[40] EurActiv, "Parliament Backs EU Funding for Ailing Galileo," June 21, 2007, at (July 9, 2007).

[41] The Clinton Administration voiced its objections to the ESDP through the Albright Doctrine, which warned against "decoupling, duplication, and discrimination" in the creation of independent European military structures.

[42] Thatcher, Statecraft, p. 355.

[43] Press release, "Joint Statement by President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair," The White House, February 23, 2001, at (June 22, 2007).

[44] U.S. Department of State, "Military Assistance: International Military Education and Training, Foreign Military Financing, Peacekeeping Operations," 2007, at /static/reportimages/F7FA525BEA23F3F7B0552B6A0EF2CEC9.pdf (June 22, 2007).

[45] EurActiv, "Solana: 'CFSP Must Be Compatible with EU Strategy,'" March 30, 2007, at (June 22, 2007).


Sally McNamara
Sally McNamara