EU-NATO marriage reflects cold war mentality
On 10 January 2023, the leaders of NATO and the European Union signed a new joint declaration on EU-NATO cooperation.
It follows earlier declarations in 2016 (in Warsaw) and 2018 (in Brussels) aimed at strengthening the EU-NATO strategic partnership.
In reality, these declarations reinforce the militarisation of the EU, confirm the leading role of the US through its leadership position within NATO, obstruct alternative security architectures on the European continent and undermine autonomous and/or neutral security policies of certain EU-countries that are not member of NATO.
In the statement, the two Brussels-based institutions rightly condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but fail to acknowledge the pernicious role of NATO and the US in the deterioration of post-Cold War relations with Russia, such as the eastward expansion of the military alliance, the construction of a missile shield in Poland and Romania and Washington’s cancellation of several bilateral disarmament treaties.
The declaration comes at a time of great security challenges with an impending escalation of the war in Ukraine, in which NATO has made far-reaching commitments of military support and arms supplies to the Ukrainian army.
Whereas the 2018 declaration welcomed “political agreement to give higher priority to security and defence” in the European Union, the language in the new declaration is designed to reinforce NATO primacy. According to the declaration, NATO is “the foundation of collective defence for its allies and essential for Euro Atlantic security.” NATO and thus the US will have a more dominant role in European security policy eroding Europe’s ambition for more Strategic Autonomy.
Giving a self-proclaimed “nuclear alliance” a more central place in European security and defence policy draws Europe into NATO’s nuclear weapons strategy under the US nuclear umbrella.
The marriage between NATO and EU also affects relations with China. For the first time, China is mentioned whose “growing assertiveness and policies present challenges that we need to address” while the EU Strategic Compass (2022) also sees China as a “partner for cooperation”. In her statement, European Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen added the claim that China is not only challenging but also threatening Europe.
The International Coordination Committee of the ‘No-to-War No-to-Nato’ network condemns the declaration’s Cold War mentality of confrontation and the further militarisation of a European Union under the leadership of the US.
The European Union once started as a project “founded on peaceful relations”. The Lisbon Treaty (2007) pushed the European Union in a militaristic direction a decade and a half ago. The growing weight of NATO is pushing this militarised EU’s security policy in an even more aggressive direction with an implicit growing role for nuclear weapons.
The EU should primarily develop a civilian security policy in its neighbourhood and global policies. This means working towards a different security architecture for the European continent based on the principle of indivisible collective security in which disarmament is back at the centre and investment in human security.
ICC of the International Network No to war – No to NATO, 17 January 2023