Macron Looking for ‘Any Excuse’ to Get Rid of U.S., Build ‘Walter Mitty EU Army’, Says Farage

US President Donald Trump (L) and French President Emmanuel Macron give a joint press conference in Biarritz, south-west France on August 26, 2019, on the third day of the annual G7 Summit attended by the leaders of the world's seven richest democracies, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the …
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images

Nigel Farage criticised Emmanuel Macron for claiming that NATO is suffering “brain death” because the U.S. is “turning its back on [Europe]”, saying the French president is looking for “any excuse” to build his own “Walter Mitty” EU army.

In an interview with The Economist published on Thursday, President Macron claimed that “what we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO.”

Implying that it was time for Europe to build its own army, Macron continued that the EU “should reassess the reality of what NATO is in the light of the commitment of the United States.”

Speaking on the campaign trail in Wales, Mr Farage said on Friday: “This is all wrong. I know Trump. He does not want to abandon NATO at all. What he says is that all the members should obey the rules and pay the two per cent contribution.

“At the moment, of the 28 members, over 20 are not paying the two per cent. They’re not spending the two per cent on defence. Trump, in my view, is saying quite rightly that whether you’re small or big, two per cent is a reasonable number to spend on defence.”

He added: “You can see with Macron, you can with Verhofstadt… any excuse to get rid of America and to build their own Walter Mitty European Army.”

It is not the first time that President Macron has made extraordinary comments with regards to defence and the United States. Last year, he said that the EU needs a “real European army” to protect itself from its historic ally.

“We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America,” he had said.

During a 2014 debate on the European Union, then-Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg had called Mr Farage’s warning of an EU army a “dangerous fantasy”.

However, three years later and a year after the UK voted to leave the EU, members of the bloc signed up to Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) mechanism, part of a Common Defence Fund, and seen as the first step towards the EU army that outgoing President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker wanted to see realised by 2025.

In response to Mr Macron’s 2018 call for an EU army, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the bloc will “have to work on a vision of one day creating a real, true European army”. While senior member of the European Parliament Guy Verhofstadt said: “I am very pleased that both Merkel and Macron are now fully behind a European army. We fought for this for many years.”

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