A report issued by the Rome-based Institute of International Affairs said that Britain’s exit from the European Union on the pro-Atlantic balance in the United Kingdom towards France is pushing for more autonomy on defense policy in the European Union. Emmanuel Macron and German Defense Minister Anagret Kramp-Karenbauer have clashed over the role of the United States and NATO in European security in recent weeks. But the International Research Institute report said that Italy should enter the Franco-German campaign for European defense and strategic independence.
“In an ideal world, this ambitious treaty could take the form of a tripartite treaty that overcomes the French approach based on the network of bilateral treaties signed by Paris, which of course puts France in a pioneering position,” she said.
The report suggested that Italy should clearly position itself in the European Union after Brexit as the different positions of member states on the level of strategic autonomy and transatlantic relations must be balanced.
She said a better alignment with France and Germany could create a new and more solid “center of gravity” for the EU’s defense in Europe.
“The acceleration of the European Union’s defense initiative through the Franco-German engine and a greater role for the European Commission, along with the ongoing US disengagement, indicates a higher degree of European strategic autonomy and greater regional security responsibilities for EU member states,” the report said.
In this context, Italy has to adjust its approach to strategic autonomy along with the following lines of action.
First, to press for cooperation between NATO and the European Union on a variety of files, from the Southern Neighborhood to hybrid threats, cyber and maritime domains, technological innovation, and resilience.
Second, within NATO and toward the United States, to demonstrate that European defense initiatives are mutually supportive of the Alliance.
“Third, in the context of the European Union, to present a pragmatic approach to the European Union’s capabilities and institution building in order to avoid unnecessary tensions with the United States.”
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The report of the International Institute for Industrial Research warned that alternatives to Italy are neither easier nor better.
“Waiting and anticipating European strategic independence will leave the EU defense leadership to the French-German driver, with Paris in the driver’s seat,” she said.
This risks increasing the transatlantic drift, dividing the Europeans between those who support an extreme level of strategic autonomy and those, especially in Eastern Europe, who reject the entire process in order not to jeopardize NATO’s security umbrella with Russia in mind.
“The result will be a fractured and weak Europe within a divided West, not a player, but a playground for competition between the true great powers.”
But Ms. Kramp-Karenbauer responded in a speech at the Berlin Foreign Policy Forum.
“I didn’t hear the chancellor say that NATO is somewhat unnecessary,” she said.
Instead, in her first statements about the newly elected US president, she made clear once again that we should invest in the transatlantic relationship.
“In this regard, I agree with her.”
Sources familiar with the matter said the dispute highlighted how some deep differences between the two most powerful countries in the European Union came to the fore in the wake of the defeat of Donald Trump, whose isolationist policies helped Macron advance his security agenda.
The French president has previously been vocal about creating a European army.