This article examines the relations between the European Union (EU) and NATO in light of both of the current, deeply unhealthy, state of the transatlantic relationship, and of its ongoing evolution. The first part is devoted to a retrospective outline of the links between European defence and the Atlantic system, which highlights the major constant features of these last sixty years, as well as the rupture points. Then, various issues, from the problem of the division of labour and the definition of the chain of command to coordination on the ground and arms procurement, are evoked as concrete examples where the same fundamental question marks emerge, again and again; all of them revolving around the concept of sovereignty – that of the Europeans vis-à-vis America. It is suggested in the article that current European dependence does not allow but superficial and/or temporary ‘progress’ in EU-NATO relations, just as is the case in the broader Euro-American relationship. As long as Europeans will not assume fully the objective of autonomy (i.e. freedom of decision and action, with all the commitments it would imply), their subjection will continue to generate increasing tensions, since this inherent imbalance is not only detrimental to Europe’s own interests, but it also excludes any reciprocity and prohibits any genuine partnership with the United States.
transatlantic, ESDP, NATO, EU
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