The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) was formed in 1949 as a Western military alliance to deal with the growing threat of the Soviet Union. However, since the break-up of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, it has struggled to define itself in the 21st century. This has led some to speculate whether the military alliance has a future?
The EU will take a greater role in defence and security
The prospect of an EU army and a greater role for the EU in defence has long been floated. As tensions rise over the cost of NATO and the interests of the USA and Europe diverge, the EU will supplant NATO as the central guarantor of European security.
Under the presidency of Donald Trump, European countries have increasingly faced criticism over low levels of defence spending and a failure to meet the minimum 2% GDP contribution to NATO. This has come at the same time as Britain leaves the European Union, China and Russia undertake increasingly aggressive foreign policies, and Trump's behaviour has come to be perceived as erratic and unpredictable, putting a strain on transatlantic relations.
Within this context, European leaders have begun to revive the idea of a European army and a greater role for the European Union in security and defence policy. While advocates claim such an arrangement would complement existing NATO structures, it’s clear that the purpose and remit of a new European defence agreement would come into direct conflict with NATO.
This will lead many European countries, who are members of NATO and the European Union, to question the cost and need for both.
Talk of a European army and a greater role for the European Union in defence and security is not something new. Over the last two decades EU leaders have debated and discussed the idea and made little progress. It is far from certain, as the creation of a European army would require the support of all twenty-seven members, including Eastern European members who remain strongly in favour of NATO.
Despite much scaremongering, the EU already has joint-battle groups under its collective security and defence policy that compliments the work of NATO. These battle groups were recently deployed in the Horn of Africa to undertake anti-piracy missions.
[P1] Due to changes in the political landscape, it is becoming increasingly appealing to EU countries to unite in terms of defence and security.
[P2] Therefore, the need for NATO is diminished.
Rejecting the premises
[Rejecting P1] A European army is extremely unlikely to ever happen.