Tuesday, November 15, 2016

EU backs defence plan after Trump win fuelled fears

EU backs defence plan after Trump win fuelled fears: EU ministers approved a common defence plan on Monday despite sharp differences over how far it should go, as Donald Trump's election win stoked fears about Washington's commitment to European security.

Trump's campaign threat to think twice about defending NATO allies unless they up their defence spending has driven calls for the European Union to press ahead on its own, despite objections from Britain.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini insisted the plans -- to boost the bloc's ability to respond to external conflicts, help partner countries build their defence capabilities and protect EU citizens -- would not undermine NATO.

"It's not about a European army, it's not about creating a new European Union SHAPE-style headquarters," Mogherini said after talks with foreign and defence ministers in Brussels, referring to NATO's own military HQ.

Britain has long opposed any such moves as undermining NATO, but after its shock June Brexit vote, France and Germany jumped in with plans to boost defence cooperation that have now gained extra urgency with Trump's election victory.

Mogerhini said the bloc was working on the issue long before the US vote and that it would "continue to do this in strong partnership with NATO".