EU and NATO take partnership to next level to confront Russia and China
Against the backdrop of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, China's growing assertiveness and the instability in Africa and the Middle East, the European Union and NATO have decided to take their cooperation to a higher level. "Strong allies make strong alliances," European Council President Charles Michel said in a joint statement.
With European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Michel signed a declaration today at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, in which the two organisations pledged to deepen their partnership further.
It is already the third declaration since 2016. It is, however, the first time that China has been mentioned in such a document. Yet, it is mainly the war in Ukraine that makes a further rapprochement between the military giant and the economic giant even more urgent.
"The regime in Moscow wants a different Europe. It wants to control its neighbours and considers democracy and freedom a threat. This will have long-term consequences for our security," Stoltenberg advocated enhanced cooperation between democratic forces on both sides of the Atlantic.
Michel argued that Russian President Vladimir Putin's attack on Ukraine achieved the opposite of what he wanted. As a result, NATO has a stronger presence on its eastern flank, and Sweden and Finland are on the verge of joining.
The Russian war has "strengthened both our organisations and brought them closer together", Michel argued. As a result, Putin "gets more NATO and more EU".
Once Finland and Sweden overcome Turkish and Hungarian objections to their accession, 23 of the 27 EU member states will belong to NATO. The military organisation will then protect 96 per cent of EU citizens.
Despite this intertwining, there has traditionally been some distrust between the two organisations. For instance, the United States and the UK are concerned that the EU's military ambitions could eventually come at the expense of the transatlantic alliance.
The statement, therefore, affirmed that NATO remains the cornerstone of the collective security of its member states. "NATO remains the foundation of the Allies' collective defence and is essential for Euro-Atlantic security. We recognise the value of a stronger and more performing European defence that contributes positively to global and transatlantic security and is complementary and interoperable with NATO," the statement reads.
© ZUMA PRESS