Republican frontrunner and former US president Donald Trump’s recent comments about how he would not protect NATO countries that do not abide by their spending obligations if he were to be re-elected led to Czech MEP Mikuláš Peksa (Pirates, Greens/EFA) calling for a European army.
Besides Trump making comments about the US not automatically intervening to help NATO allies at a rally in South Carolina Saturday, he also said he would “encourage” Russia to “do whatever the hell they want”.
“Europe needs its own army. Donald Trump’s protection cannot be relied upon,” Peksa wrote in reaction to media reports about Trump’s comments on X.
The European joint army could be financed from the EU’s budget chapter and fall under the European Parliament’s competence, Peksa further explained to Euractiv Czechia.
“So we do not have to worry about whether there is a majority for 2% of GDP in 30 different parliaments,” Peksa added.
The US invests many times more in defence than other NATO allies, putting pressure on other countries to meet the minimum 2% NATO commitment, which some do not. Trump believes that if countries do not pay the pledge, they do not deserve US protection.
According to a poll conducted by SSRS for CNN at the end of January, Trump is narrowly ahead of incumbent US President Joe Biden. The US presidential election is scheduled for November 2024.
This sentiment is shared by other Czech politicians who admit Europe needs to strengthen its defence spending, though they have not made calls for a European army.
Czech MEP Alexandr Vondra (ODS, ECR), also pointed to the low European investment in defence.
“Whether Trump or Biden is in the White House, this is untenable in the long run. The United States is changing,” Vondra wrote on X as he referred to a changing demography, culture and wanging grip on global geopolitics. “The US is no longer the main power ruling everywhere”, he said.
“Of course, such an America will not enjoy paying for the defence of Europe indefinitely. We need to get our act together and make defence one of our top priorities,” Vondra wrote.
Meanwhile, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský (Pirates, Greens) stressed that Trump’s comments are part of his election campaign.
“NATO is currently in the strongest position it has ever been, both because of the strong transatlantic link and because of the domestic tasks that European allies are fulfilling in the area of deterrence and defence,” Lipavský told the Czech News Agency.
Russia’s war in Ukraine is the biggest threat to NATO since the end of World War II, said Lipavský, pointing to member countries increasing defence budgets and securing new capabilities, often by buying from the US.
(Aneta Zachová | Euractiv.cz)
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