14 Oct 05. BROOKS TIGNER OF Defense News in BRUSSELS reported that alarm bells are ringing in Europe about the dire implications of its shrinking military spending and defense technological base relevant to the United States, prompting new calls from defense experts for nations to pool military assets and defense spending. Yet a resurgent nationalism across the continent threatens to block movement in this direction, as military and defense officials here readily admit.
“Europe is again being haunted by the ghosts of sovereignty,” said Klaus Naumann, former head of NATO’s Military Committee and co-chair of a new report that urges radical change to the way NATO and the European Union spend their defense money and achieve military capabilities.
Naumann addressed an Oct. 12 conference here that unveiled the 97-page report, “European Defense Integration: Bridging the Gap between Strategy and Capabilities,” by the Washington-based policy group, the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Fellow speaker Muriel Domenach, defense counselor at France’s delegation to NATO, confirmed that view.
“We’re very skeptical about abandoning sovereignty within NATO or the European Union,” Domenach said. But “the EU is meant to become, perhaps, a supranational entity at some point and NATO is not.” Europe spends the equivalent of 60 percent of the U.S. defense budget while getting “less than 20 percent of effectiveness” in terms of power projection, said Naumann, who also is Germany’s former chief of defense.
He warned that a failure to correct this imbalance “will cause a dangerous deterioration in Europe’s relations as a partner in our alliance with the United States. I am already worried that we have begun to lose intellectual capability in the field of operations because the two sides are thinking and reacting [to their respective circumstances] so differently.” Naumann was not alone in that assessment. Ian Abbott, chief of the policy and plans division at the EU Military Staff, said Europe’s national governments “are already behind the curve” in addressing the union’s future capability needs.
Observing that part of the problem lies in a lack of coordination between NATO and EU military planners, Abbott told the gathering that “understanding would be improved if we recognize that there are fundamental differences in culture between the two organizations.”
By tacit agreement, NATO deals with war situations, leaving the EU to focus on peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction. The two organizations should be talking far more often, however, and at far deeper levels, according to Julianne Smith, CSIS’ deputy director for international security program, who helped oversee the report.
“There is a great deal of mistrust, severe information blockages and a lot of unhealthy competition between NATO and the EU,” she told participants.
“Yes, they confer on the Balkans, but that is not enough. NATO and the EU should be talking about nonproliferation, the Caucasus, Ukraine, Moldova — the whole package,” she said. “And they don’t share intelligence: A major diplomatic effort is needed to break this impasse. Critically, too, they need a real dialogue on defense planning.”
Among its many recommendations, the CSIS report urges that: European nations spend at least 25 percent of their annual defense budgets on research and development (R&D) and procurement — and no more than 40 percent on personnel costs. The European Defense Agency (EDA) “be given a large research and technology budget” of at least 200 million euros and sufficient staff to deal with it.
NATO re-write its 1999 strategic concept to “chart a way forward for the alliance” in the 21st century, and overhaul its entire defense planning process, with NATO — and not individual allies — taking the lead on transformation and the definition of military require