Macron Claims NATO Suffering ‘Brain Death’ But Germany Commits to Increasing Defence Spending

French President Emmanuel Macron attends the OECD ministerial council meeting on "Refoundi
Philippe Wojazer/ AP

Emmanuel Macron has claimed that NATO is suffering a “brain death” and that Europe can no longer depend on the United States of America to defend her.

In an interview with The Economist published on Thursday, the French president said: “What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO.”

Asked whether he believed in members’ commitment to Article Five — where if one North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member is attacked, the others will defend it — Mr Macron said: “I don’t know, but what will Article Five mean tomorrow?”

Claiming that America is “turning its back on us”, he said NATO “only works if the guarantor of last resort functions as such. I’d argue that we should reassess the reality of what NATO is in the light of the commitment of the United States.”

The head of one of the two leading nations of the progressive EU, France and Germany, Macron also lamented that President Donald Trump “doesn’t share our idea of the European project”.

President Trump has criticised other NATO members during his political campaign and presidency for failing to pay their fair share of defence spending to sustain the organisation, with the USA funding some 70 per cent of the security alliance. Three years ago, just five of the then-27 member union were paying at least the minimum two per cent of GDP on defence.

Since then, a number of countries have recommitted to the union, with the prime minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, telling his European colleagues to start paying up.

“Anyone who is a member of a club has to pay the fee. We might not like it, but the days in which Europe could for a minimal fee find shelter under the American safety umbrella are over… Europe can and should do more,” Prime Minister Rutte said.

President Macron continued to tell The Economist that the EU stands on “the edge of a precipice” and needs to start considering its position as a global political power; otherwise, the bloc will “no longer be in control of our destiny”.

While claiming that NATO is brain dead, last year the French president said the EU needs its own army “protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America,” — a call vigorously backed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the EU’s executive arm the European Commission, and senior European Parliament politician Guy Verhofstadt.

Mr Macron’s comments about NATO comes as the defence union’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that Germany must not forget the U.S.’s commitment to European security and credited Washington’s support in unifying Germany and Europe after the Cold War.

Mr Stoltenberg said in reference to the 30th anniversary of the Berlin Wall falling: “The reunification of Germany and Europe would have been impossible without the United States’s security guarantee.”

“Any attempt to distance Europe from North America will not only weaken the transatlantic Alliance, it also risks dividing Europe itself,” he said on Thursday in comments reported by Reuters.

President Trump had criticised Germany in the past for failing to commit to increased defence spending. However, Chancellor Merkel rejected Mr Macron’s comments, saying the Frenchman had used “drastic words”.

“NATO remains a cornerstone of our security,” Dr Merkel told reporters on Thursday.

Also on Thursday, Germany said that it would commit to NATO spending by 2031. While missing its 2024 target, defence minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer assured allies: “NATO is and will remain the anchor of European security. But it is also clear that Europe must increase its own complementary ability to act.”

“This starts with the defence budget. We need [to spend] 1.5 per cent by 2024 and 2 per cent by 2031 at the latest,” Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer said.

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