From Judy Dempsey, International Herald Tribune:  For many months, the European Union has been discussing how to combine and share defense resources in order to reduce duplication of military equipment and increase efficiencies.

It would seem an ideal opportunity to do so, given the economic crisis that has led to drastic cuts in defense budgets in most European countries.

Yet despite all the lip service, hardly anything is being done to pool and share. One reason is that governments are loath to weaken their control over anything that involves defense. That would entail ceding some sovereignty and losing some jobs. . . .

“Pooling and sharing is about giving something up and someone else doing the job,” said Zbigniew Wlosowicz, the Polish deputy defense minister for defense policy. “These are very complex decisions. This is where the question of sovereignty kicks in. . . .”

But some defense experts in Bratislava argued that the United States should insist that Europe take on a bigger share of the burden instead of just complaining.

Only then, they say, would that concentrate the minds of the Europeans on finding answers.

Indeed, look what happened last year, when the standoff on the border between Kosovo and Serbia could have developed into a conflagration.

The catalyst was a trade dispute about the recognition of customs stamps. (Serbia does not recognize Kosovo as an independent state.)

To outsiders, the incident was just another spat between Kosovo and Serbia. But such episodes cannot be ignored. When it turned to violence, NATO and its hard power — not the European Union and its diplomatic overtures — prevented further escalation.  (photo: