29th Jan 2023

US worried about Franco-German alliance

The gap in the transatlantic relationship is widening with the US showing concerns over the strengthening Franco-German alliance. According to the Financial Times, US envoys have expressed their worries in bilateral meetings with European officials.

The Iraq issue has also put pressure on the transatlantic relationship, as some EU member states have questioned the US's motives for attacking Baghdad. However, the EU has not managed to agree on a single position over Iraq, showing the weakness of the common foreign and security policy. Britain, Germany, France and Spain, current EU members of the United Nations Security Council, have failed to agree on the issue.

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  • The US is concerned about the potential of the Franco-German axis and its envoys have expressed their worries in bilateral meetings with European officials. (Photo: EUobserver)

"US diplomats have suggested to us they do not like certain aspects of the Franco-German plan," a senior European diplomat told the Financial Times. "The Americans discreetly question how this reinvigorated alliance will change Europe in a way that could completely redefine transatlantic relations."

Last week the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, described France and Germany as part of "the old Europe", it seems that he is worried about the potential of the Franco-German axis. "It is not really the 'old Europe' that worries Rumsfeld. It is the 'new Europe' that France and Germany are creating," commented an EU military officer according to the Financial Times.

According to the Financial Times, Washington dislikes the Franco-German proposal to set up a defence procurement agency. We are trying to improve our capabilities and improve co-ordination, yet Washington really worries about the defence procurement agency. Perhaps it would lose out on contracts, said an EU military officer.

Relations with candidate countries

Another aspect to the Iraq issue is the relationship between the EU and the candidate countries. The future member states are not completely sure where their loyalties lie. Bulgaria, a non-permanent member of the Security Council, has indicated that it could support an American-led war against Iraq. Similarly, Poland has been brushing up its transatlantic credentials. According to Le Figaro, the Polish foreign minister, has said that a second UN resolution on Iraq is not indispensable and indicated support for possible unilateral action by the US.

Hungary, reports the Financial Times, is the most involved of any country in the region in the war build-up. The Socialist-led coalition government has given the US permission to train up to 3,000 Iraqi opposition activists at an airbase at Taszar, south-west Hungary.

Old Europe comment causes uproar

Both France and Germany have reacted angrily to comments by US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld describing them as "old Europe." His words follow the decision by Paris and Berlin to form a more united front against a war in Iraq and have sparked a volley of criticism from politicians in both countries.

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