Aukus agreement exposes European divisions over NATO

To analyse. The times are tough for Europeans anxious to see the Union in a better position to defend itself against external threats. The chaotic withdrawal from Kabul confirmed their inability to act alone. The realization of the Aukus trilateral security pact (Australia, United Kingdom, United States) for the Indo-Pacific zone was announced one day before the unveiling, in Brussels, of a European strategy which therefore went almost unnoticed and reduced to a slogan : “Cooperation, not confrontation”. Finally, the Twenty-Seven now have confirmation that, even after the Trump era, Washington undoubtedly intends to inform them, but not to consult them beforehand. The themes of “strategic autonomy” and the “Defense Union” undoubtedly punctuate many speeches, but all this gives off an image of helplessness.

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Relations between NATO and the EU appear to be affected in the long term again. Skillful and prudent maneuver so far, Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of the Atlantic Alliance, is attacking the last phase of his mandate with fairly clear objectives. On the one hand: contesting the idea of ​​European defense, which he boils down to competition and a means of weakening NATO. On the other hand: to confirm his little interest in the wishes of the European allies, invited above all to take into account the weakness of their contribution to an organization of which, he insists, Europeans who are not members of the group of Europeans are also members. Twenty-Seven and therefore little concerned by the ambition of a more solid European “pillar” (Norway, Iceland, Albania, North Macedonia, etc.).

To portray the theme of autonomy as anti-American is certainly a way of torpedoing it and winning the sympathy of Central and Eastern European states. Germany remains torn between its loyalty to Washington, its economic interests and its desire to maintain at all costs the increasingly shaky cohesion of the Twenty-Seven.

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France remains. Asked about the Aukus agreement, Mr. Stoltenberg simply said that he “Understood his disappointment”. But he stressed that the last summit of the organization, in June, in Brussels, had advocated a rapprochement with its partners in the Indo-Pacific. “It is therefore a good thing that the allies are working with Australia », Summarized the secretary general. However, it is in fact a press release inviting action “As an alliance” in the zone, against China, which had been adopted at the time.

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