Macron criticised over push for EU army by Italian MEP

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Mette Frederiksen has pledged to resist the proposals for a wide-ranging European Union military, warning the plans for a stronger Europe must not come “at the expense of strong transatlantic cooperation”. The Danish leader also stated she will “go up against those who try to undermine transatlantic cooperation” in what will be seen as the latest opposition to the plans for an EU army from Emmanuel Macron. When asked about the plans for the EU to operate more independently on defence issues, Ms Frederiksen made her feelings on the hotly debated issue abundantly clear.

She told Danish broadsheet newspaper Politiken: “I would also like to say quite clearly that I will at all times go up against those who try to undermine transatlantic cooperation – whether it happens in Europe or at home in Denmark.

“The most important, stand-alone explanation for the fact that Danes, Europeans and Americans have been able to live in safety and security for decades is the transatlantic cooperation that grew out of the ashes of the world wars.

“It is, by volume, the strongest alliance for democracy and freedom and fundamental human rights, and it must not be undermined by thoughts of a stronger Europe at the expense of strong transatlantic cooperation.”

The words of warning from the Danish Prime Minister come with France seemingly trying to use the fallout from the Aukus defence partnership between Australia, the UK and US to ramp up its own demands for an EU army.

French President Mr Macron has previously said Europe had to be able “to defend itself better alone”.

Several leading EU figures want a unit of up to 20,000 troops able to deploy immediately throughout the world.

Brussels officials are thought to be drawing up draft plans to be presented for a “first-entry force” in November.

Senior officials from the bloc have become convinced the shambolic withdrawal of Western troops from Afghanistan as the Taliban took hold demonstrated the need for the EU to be able to intervene in a crisis from a military standoff without relying on US troops.

But earlier this month, NATO’s secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg warned the plans could overstretch the “scarce resources” of NATO allies whilst also “dividing Europe”.

The former Danish Prime Minister Mr Stoltenberg said: “I welcome more European efforts on defence but that can never replace NATO and we need to make sure that Europe and North America band together.

“Any attempt to weaken the bond between North America and Europe will not only weaken NATO, it will divide Europe.”

“This is partly about money – 80 per cent of our defence expenditure comes from non-EU allies.

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“It’s about geography – Norway, Iceland in the North, Turkey in the South, the US, Canada, UK, in the West, are essential for the defence of Europe.

“But it’s also about politics. Because any weakening of the transatlantic bond will also divide Europe.”

He continued: “Any attempt to establish parallel structures, duplicate the command structure, that will weaken our joint capability to work together because with scarce resources we need to prevent duplication and overlapping efforts.

“The specific proposals have not been discussed in NATO, we have not seen any details.”

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