Donald Trump, former US president and possible future president, left a bitter taste in the mouths of Europeans during his first term, but the eventuality of a second can cause an unprecedented crisis since American independence from England in 1776.
Trump assured over the weekend that he would encourage Russian President Vladimir Putin to attack European countries that do not spend at least 2% of GDP on Defense, the political commitment without further legal force that the 31 NATO member states have and that half is not enough.
A Trump supporter in Florida. Photo: AP
Since the creation of the Atlantic Alliance after the Second World War, Europeans took for granted that His safety was guaranteed, ultimately, by American military power, including its nuclear arsenal. But Trump is a disruptive element, destroying foreign policy that political changes in Washington did not alter for decades. His statements (“No, I wouldn't protect you, in fact, I would encourage him (Putin) to do whatever he wanted”) provoked a flood of reactions at the highest level.
NATO Secretary General, former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, told his country's review that “any suggestion that allies will not defend each other damages our security” and that he hoped the United States “remains an ally.” strong and committed to NATO no matter who wins the presidential election.”
The European chancellor, the Spanish-Argentine Josep Borrell. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard / AFP
The European Foreign Minister, the Spanish-Argentine Josep Borrell, said early on Monday that “NATO cannot be an alliance à la carte”in reference to the fact that the commitment to common defense cannot depend on the color of the government in power.
NATO published its latest spending data in September. From them it is extracted that it has increased since 2015 (Russia forcibly annexed the Ukrainian province of Crimea in 2014) and that in 2023 it did so by 8.3%, above the increase in general public spending. But still countries the size of France, Germany, Canada, Italy, Spain or the Netherlands do not reach 2% of military spending in relation to GDP. And several of those that do pass it are militarily minuscule, such as Latvia, Lithuania or Estonia.
Among the large or medium-sized European countries, only Poland and the United Kingdom spend more than 2% of GDP on Defense, which is the only one in all of NATO, with Turkey, which reduced its military spending in 2023. When we look at the total numbers, sees that US military spending is almost two-thirds of the total of all NATO member states. Of the 1.1 trillion dollars spent on Defense in 2023, 743 billion were from the United States and 356 billion from the other 30 member states.
A figure of Donald Trump spears “Ukraine” in the back at the German carnivals. Photo: AP
There have been dozens of reactions since Sunday. The influential president of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Bundestag, Norbert Röttgen said that “Europe will soon have no choice but to defend itself, because the opposite would be surrender.” The President of the European Council (speaking on behalf of the 27 governments of the European Union) said that “the inconsiderate statements about NATO security and the solidarity of Article 5 (the article of the NATO treaty that binds all its members to defend the attacked ally) They only serve Putin's interests”.
Trump's threats relaunch the debate on the never launched European Defense. EU governments have common projects to develop cutting-edge weaponry, such as the next fighter jet.
They also organize joint military peacekeeping missions, for example in the Balkans. But the Armed Forces of each country They are completely national jurisdiction.
Does the European Union need to have a military pillar outside NATO to not depending on the mood of the current president of the United States? Or, on the contrary, as some countries believe, is it enough to continue buying weapons from the United States in order to have it anchored in Europe? Should the French nuclear weapon (the only one in the 27) protect the entire bloc or just France? Trump will accelerate all these debates in the coming months.