Par la voix de leur ambassadeur auprès de l’Union européenne, Gordon Sondland, les États-Unis ont fait savoir qu’ils prendraient des mesures de représailles si Bruxelles persistait, « par entêtement ou par protectionnisme », à tenir les entreprises américaines hors du Fonds européen de défense.
J’ai souhaité répondre à cette menace inacceptable et ainsi faire savoir à nos alliés américains qu’il n’est pas dans leurs intérêts d’affaiblir leur allié le plus fidèle.
« The Americans are trying to undermine Europe’s efforts to become more autonomous over security »
Gordon Sondland, Washington’s ambassador to Brussels, reacted strongly last month to the EU’s proposal that European Defence Fund investment should go to EU-based and controlled companies only (“Europe must open military projects to foreign firms, says US envoy”, March 11). He has threatened the EU with retaliation if it excludes American companies from European industrial defence projects.
In linking the European Defence Fund to Nato, the Americans now seem to correlate the solidarity of the alliance with the purchase of US military equipment. When Mr Sondland claims that the EU’s reasons may be “stubbornness or protectionism” he forgets that foreign companies can only benefit from American financing if they employ American personnel onl and are set up in the US. We are starting to wonder whether President Donald Trump is not putting undue pressure on us to increase our military spending simply in order that we purchase more American equipment. He also appears to be trying to force us to spend our taxpayers’ money to support American research via the European Defence Fund!
The European Commission set up the fund in order to strengthen our security. It should be endowed with €13bn over the next seven years if the new European Parliament approves the budget next autumn. It is to promote security and defence research and innovation, built on existing frameworks. Whether it is the future European MALE RPAS drone, the European Secure Software-defined Radio program for the development of military communications, or projects in artificial intelligence and cyber security, the signal is clear: for the first time Europe is claiming its strategic autonomy as well as agreeing on the definition of what the European industrial base is. Obviously it displeases our long-term partner, who is actively attempting to divide us.
In my visits to European capital cities I have observed that lobbying by the Americans is quite successful, particularly in eastern European countries, which are deeply attached to the protection of Nato. They say that this is the price to be paid for the US’s continued protection. They see Nato as the only deterrent against potential Russian aggression. They of course don’t really believe that Russia will invade them as it would trigger an immediate reaction from Nato and the EU. However, they don’t trust Europe to be capable of defending itself.
However, beyond the economic interests placed at the forefront of all negotiations by the current US administration, it is the security of European citizens that is at stake. European unity — an expression of citizenship in the making as well as European sovereignty — is being challenged by our long-term friends the Americans. A dangerous game to play with one of the US’s traditional and strongest allies.
Vice-president, Senate of France,
Member and former vice-president of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Armed Forces Committee