German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on EU countries to share their capabilities in order to build weapons systems independent of the United States.
Speaking to her Christian Democrats party in the northern city of Rostock, Merkel said Europe had many more systems than the US which has threatened to “go its own way” under President Donald Trump.
Merkel called on EU members to ease up their strict controls on exports and technologies and refrain from competing among themselves for new projects and fighter planes.
Her remarks were apparently aimed at France which did not go Germany’s way last year to halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia after the murder of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
With Britain’s pending departure from the EU, there is more momentum for remaining member states to find common ground on defense, although there remain divisions.
“It is good that after several decades we want to develop a common defense policy … We must develop weapons systems together,” Merkel said on Saturday.
Supporters of a European military union say the EU has struggled in military and humanitarian missions, and that it was caught off guard by Crimea’s decision to rejoin Russia.
Most importantly, however, the EU is searching for answers to a US president who views the EU with contempt.
In November, Merkel echoed a call by French President Emmanuel Macron for an integrated European Union military that infuriated President Trump.
“The times when we could rely on others are over. This means we Europeans have to take our fate fully into our own hands,” Merkel said. “We should work on a vision of one day establishing a real European army.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel calls for the formation of “a real and true European army.”
Trump then accused Macron of seeking to develop the EU’s own military to defend itself from the United States as he blasted France over its near defeat to Germany in two world wars.
“Emmanuel Macron suggests building its own army to protect Europe against the US, China and Russia. But it was Germany in World Wars One & Two — How did that work out for France? They were starting to learn German in Paris before the US came along. Pay for NATO or not!” Trump tweeted.
French officials explained that Macron’s call was in fact meant to show European willingness to meet US demands that Europe do more for its own security and rely less on America’s security umbrella.
Under a 2014 agreement, each NATO member should set aside two percent of their GDP for military purposes. However, only the US, Britain, Estonia, Greece and Poland have so far been able to meet the target.
Meanwhile, a major trade dispute between the US and its European allies has escalated since March last year, when Washington imposed a 25-percent tariff on steel imports and a 10-percent tariff on aluminum imports from EU member nations.