German chancellor Angela Merkel appeared to rebuke French President Emmanual Macron today when she said Europe cannot defend itself without the Nato defence alliance.
Macron said earlier this month that Nato was suffering “brain death” due to poor coordination and the volatility of US President Donald Trump.
This morning, Merkel told the Bundestag – the German parliament – that “maintaining Nato today is even more in our very own interests as it was in the Cold War – or at least as important as it was in the Cold War”.
She said this was because “Europe currently cannot defend itself on its own”.
Nato – the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation – is a defence pact between 29 states in North America and Europe. Among its key members are the US, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Turkey.
It has become the target of frequent attacks by Trump, however. He has expressed anger that many members states, particularly Germany, are not meeting a US-driven target to spend two per cent of GDP on defence.
Trump was accused of undermining Nato by harshly criticising Berlin’s approach to defence in a speech last year.
Earlier this month, in an interview with The Economist, Macron said the US was showing signs of “turning its back on us”.
In her speech to lawmakers, Merkel today agreed with Macron’s assertion that Europe must cooperate better on defence, and praised progress made so far.
Yet she said initiatives such as Permanent Structured Co-operation, a drive for more military cooperation, should not be instead of Nato or against it.
Trump is scheduled to come to London next month for the second time this year for a Nato summit on international security. Member states will be hoping he does not lambast his allies as he did in 2018.