Stoltenberg: the EU cannot defend Europe alone and needs a US presence

The NATO Secretary General also said that members of the alliance should not refuse to increase defence spending, even though financial pressure has been exerted due to the pandemic

The EU cannot protect Europe without the United States and therefore security assurances from the US, the presence of its troops on the continent and nuclear deterrence measures are essential. This opinion was expressed by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in an interview with the German media group Funke published on Tuesday.

“The fact is that the European Union cannot protect Europe. After Brexit, 80% of defence expenditures of NATO countries will be spent by non-EU countries”, –  the Secretary General said. –  “U.S. security guarantees, nuclear deterrence and the presence of American troops are absolutely necessary to protect Europe”, – he said. Stoltenberg acknowledged that Europeans must invest more in their own defence, but he believes that this effort can never replace a transatlantic alliance.

“Any attempt to weaken the link between North America and Europe would not only weaken NATO, but also create a rift in Europe”, –  Stoltenberg warned. And, he said, if the US gets the impression that the EU can provide its own security alone, a new problem will arise, namely, “political forces in the US that are opposed to multi-lateralism and transatlantic cooperation are using this as an excuse to reduce their commitments.”

The NATO Secretary General expects the US and under President Joseph Biden to maintain pressure on the EU to increase defence spending. He noted that Donald Trump has “his own style” of expression and expectations.

“But I am sure that President-elect Biden will tell European partners about the same expectations. He will send a very clear message that they must do more as the world becomes more dangerous”, –  says Stoltenberg.

Acting US President Donald Trump has repeatedly demanded that all member countries bring defence spending to 2% of GDP as quickly as possible. Speaking at the NATO Summit in London in December 2019, he proposed that such countries not only meet this commitment, but also increase spending to 4% of GDP.