European security co-operation has never really been off the EU’s agenda, but controversy, political divisions and expense have for many years kept it well away from the top. Donald Trump’s election – along with concerns of a potentially emboldened Vladimir Putin – will likely ensure that this changes.
The question now is, what form should enhanced European security co-operation take?
The 2% Solution
The nation state remains the fundamental building bloc of international security. Given this reality, a useful step forward would be if more NATO members met the 2% of GDP target set by the alliance as the notional minimum budget for defence expenditure. At present, only four European countries – the UK, Poland, Estonia and Greece – do so. A commitment to addressing this would help shore up the alliance in light of Trump’s apparent belief that nations not contributing their fair share do not merit US protection. These days, it is not enough to be serious about security; one must be demonstrably so.
Of course, not all EU states are members of NATO and vice versa. Finland and Sweden are contemplating joining the latter, for example, and NATO-member Turkey has a tortuous on-and-off relationship with the former. Nonetheless, as far as a potential Russian threat – currently the primary military challenge – goes, there is little practical difference. NATO would be very unlikely to sit back and watch Moscow outflank it to the north, regardless of Sweden and Finland’s formal status, and anyway the EU also embodies security guarantees of its own.
To continue reading, please visit the website of the European Council on Foreign Relations.
(Photo: Sébastien Bertrand)