EU foreign policy chief backs common block defense

The European Union foreign policy chief Friday said that he strongly supported the idea of creating a common EU defense and security policy.

“I absolutely refuse to accept that what we are trying to build has anything to do with weakening NATO or our transatlantic relationships,” Josep Borrell said at the New Economy Forum in Madrid.

His comments come less than a week after European Council President Charles Michel declared that “2022 will be the year of European defense.”

Although Borrell backs a collective EU strategy for defense, he said implementing it will not be easy, and urged the other pillar of the EU — the European Commission — to get on board.

“The EU was born to resolve inter-European problems in a world that wasn’t globalized and in the middle of the Cold War. But the geopolitical situation has changed dramatically and we haven’t rethought our relationship with the rest of the world,” he said.

Borrell described the EU as a US ally but emphasized that the EU is not always aligned with the United States.

France’s recent conflict with the US and Australia over a canceled submarine deal highlights the discrepancies.

“We have our own interests and we need to defend them. We can’t wait for others to do it for us. All three of the last US presidents have said the same thing: ‘We don’t want to fix the world’s problems,’” he said.

Borrell urged the EU, as a single voice, to establish a more “frank and open” relationship with the US, instead of relying on individual nation-states for diplomacy.

“We want strategic dialogue with the US about China, technology and commerce and security. Some people say that’s what NATO is for, but not all European states are NATO members, and not all NATO members are from the EU and US,” he added.

The EU is also aiming for “balanced” relationships with both China and Russia, said Borrell, which means treating them as strategic partners while also defending EU interests and values.

“The great question of this century is whether democracy or authoritarianism will prevail,” Borrell added. “I think we are paying the price of being complacent since the fall of the Berlin Wall.”




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