Former German Vice Chancellor says Europe needs to start thinking about security like the US

European Council President Charles Michel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and US President Joe Biden will meet on June 15, 2021 at the EU-US Summit in Brussels, Belgium.

Dorson Admir | Anadolu Agentur | Getty Images

LONDON – The former German vice chancellor said the European Union needs to strengthen its defense and security policies as the United States withdraws from the region.

The European Union has been conducting self-research exercises since the withdrawal of the United States and allied forces from Afghanistan in August. Shortly thereafter, Australia announced a submarine deal with France in September and instead announced a partnership with the United States. French and European officials described the deal as a “stab in the back”.

Tensions between Europe and the United States have sparked calls within the European Union for a stronger defense policy that is less dependent on the United States.

“Europe must learn to think strategically,” Sigmar Gabriel, a former German vice chancellor and foreign minister, told CNBC Thursday. We never had to do this before, as this work was done by the British, and a little by the French, but mostly by the Americans. Now we have to learn it ourselves.”

The European Union is a merger of 27 countries in which powers are distributed both at the national level and at the level of the European Union in the broadest sense. In security and defense, as in health and fiscal policy, decisions are still made by national governments.

In addition, the European Union does not yet see the need for strong coordination in this area, since most of its members are represented in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a security alliance.

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“Europeans should certainly learn that Joe Biden’s ‘America is back’ slogan does not mean that Old America is back, which has represented international European interest for more than 70 years,” Gabriel said.

The Biden government has specifically focused its foreign policy on China. The data at the level of the Group of Seven industrialized countries and NATO showed this.

“The United States wants a leadership role in defending democracies against the rise of authoritarian regimes, but it will focus more on the Indo-Pacific and the transatlantic alliance will have many things to deal with – but smaller ones.” [them] Everything is the Atlantic.”

However, the geopolitical repositioning of the United States opens opportunities for the European Union to strengthen its role elsewhere.

“Europe needs to think about how to fill the void [now] Leaving the United States in the southern Mediterranean, North Africa, and the Middle East. Only authoritarian countries, Turkey, Russia and Iran are currently entering the void [United] UAE – even China, they all want to expand their influence in the region. The only ones who don’t have much to say are the Europeans.”

He argues that the EU does not have to become a militarily active, but rather a “common security and defense policy”.

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