EU defense plans 'can never replace' NATO, says Stoltenberg - POLITICO | MCUTimes

EU defense plans ‘can never replace’ NATO, says Stoltenberg – POLITICO

Calls for a new European military force following the withdrawal from Afghanistan must not undermine NATO’s command structures or divert resources from the alliance, warned NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in an interview published on Sunday.

“Any attempt to establish parallel structures, copy the command structure, will weaken our common ability to work together, because with scarce resources we need to prevent duplication of work and overlapping efforts,” Stoltenberg told Telegraph.

The EU is ready to propose a strategy paper later this year, which will consider a proposal for a rapid entry force of several thousand troops. Calls for an autonomous European military capability have risen in recent weeks after the US decision to withdraw from Afghanistan led to the Taliban regaining control of the county.

Stoltenberg said “specific proposals” for such a European force have not been discussed in NATO, and he has “not seen any details.”

“I welcome more European defense attempts, but it can never replace NATO, and we must make sure that Europe and North America go together,” Stoltenberg told the newspaper. “Any attempt to weaken the bond between North America and Europe will not only weaken NATO, it will divide Europe.”

The goal is to have a first draft of the EU defense plan by November and to unveil the final version in early 2022.

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