German Defense Minister Wants EU Military to Match NATO

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, Sept. 27, 2016Germany’s defense minister said on Monday the European Union must modernize its military defense and security to match NATO’s drive to beef up its own security forces in the wake of a major Russian build-up.

“We have seen an enormous modernization drive by NATO over the past three years because of the Kremlin’s behavior,” Ursula von der Leyen told a security conference hosted by the conservative Christian Democrats.

“That was correct and important, but I believe that we must invest at the least same energy into a modernization of the European security and defense union,” she said.

Von der Leyen, keen to assuage concerns raised by the United States and Britain, said the increase should occur “knowing that one cannot build up competition between the two bodies, but that they should work in a complementary fashion”.

For instance, she said, the EU had a clear mission in working with Africa to stem the steady flow of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea, but that was not NATO’s job.

I see a big mission for the European Union, which must work for a solution together with the African countries,” von der Leyen said. “But to do that, it must better organize and bundle the many instruments it has in the civilian and military realms, actually implement them, and offer a joint European response.”

Image: German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, Sept. 27, 2016 (photo: Government of Slovakia)