BRUSSELS, October 22 (Reuters) – French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly told her NATO counterparts on Friday that she was not afraid of the European Union’s defense plans, saying the United States would benefit and that any European capability would strengthen the alliance.
The remarks, made at a closed-door meeting of NATO defense ministers and shared with reporters, aimed to end months of uncertainty over whether the EU’s latest effort to develop arms and forces would compete with the alliance.
“When I hear defensive statements about European defense and when I observe certain threats, including within this organization, I say: ‘do not be afraid!
“European defense is not built in opposition to NATO, on the contrary: a stronger Europe will contribute to a stronger and more resilient alliance,” said Parly.
Parly took note of the statement released in September by the French and American presidents following a telephone call in which the United States said it “recognizes the importance of a stronger and more European defense. efficient, which contributes positively to transatlantic and global security and is complementary to NATO. . “
Britain, which is no longer a member of the EU, also says the EU can play a supporting role for NATO. But British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace on Thursday described any attempt to build a European army as a distraction, telling reporters it was a “red herring” and there was “absolutely no interest in sticking European berets on a whole bunch of people ”.
Of the 27 EU states, 21 are also members of the 30-strong NATO, but the US has long argued that the bloc should be able to do more to manage crises at its borders.
In March next year, the EU aims to agree on a main military strategy document to define future threats, while focusing on developing weapons together, as well as outlining a new force of EU intervention which could intervene in the event of a crisis.
Eastern European states fearful of Russia are wary of any change in orientation towards NATO. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told Reuters last month he supports the European Union’s plans to establish a common defense policy, but he warned against any rapid reaction force which could duplicate Allied operations.
Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Andrew Heavens
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.