Cologne, Brussels-Hans-Peter Bartels, the parliamentary commissioner for the Armed Forces, said that Germany will handle a bigger responsibility in European military activity following the British decision to exit the European Union.
During an interview with Berliner Morgenpost newspaper, Bartels said that his country will have more military commitments following Brexit.
The statement of Bartels, member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), came after the announcement of Chancellor Angela Merkel on the German Army Day on June 11 about an increase in military spending, which will exceed 1.2 percent of the Gross Domestic Product for the first time in 25 years. Merkel said she will work on fulfilling NATO’s ambitions in raising the military spending of the organization’s member states to 2% of the Gross Domestic Product.
Merkel said that the decision came as a result of the new terrorist threats and the concerns among eastern European countries from the Russian expansion. She added that Germany will never accept Russia’s control on Crimea and its policy that aims to disturb the stability in eastern Ukraine.
The expert in military affairs in the Bundestag sees that the world is witnessing more American-British cooperation and military convergence, and expected the UK to direct its security policies toward the United States. He also expected the UK to become Europe’s partner in the security policy within a few years.
Tobias Lindner, expert of defense affairs in the Green Party agreed with Bartles, and anticipated the Brexit to increase Germany’s military burdens in the EU. He also expected the Union to claim more contribution in its military missions from Germany. Yet, Lindner said that these developments will negatively impact the disarmament policy. He also said that the EU’s military mission will persist with the Brexit, along with the biggest responsibility on Germany.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has also expressed concerns over the deterioration of European security policy following the British decision to leave the Union. During an interview with Der Spiegel magazine, Mogherini said that the Brexit may impose some alterations on the European Security and Defense Policy and its paper work, which will be proposed soon on the EU. The Head of the European diplomacy expected cooperation in the military field between the Union’s countries to become the “standard” in the future.
Gernot Erler, special coordinator for Russian policy in the German Parliament has criticized Merkel’s announcement on the armament increase against the Russian Federation. Erler has also warned against the consequences of a military conflict with Russia.
Apparently, many members from the Social Democratic Party of Germany’s, which is Merkel’s partner in the government, refuse an escalation with Moscow. Among them is Minister of Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier who criticized the recent NATO maneuvers on the borders with Russia.
Steinmeier sees that Europe should ease the tension, considering that a symbolic military show will not attract new members to the Atlantic alliance.
Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary general, participated in the summit of the EU leaders, which kicked off in Brussels on Tuesday. According to Donald Tusk, EU Council President, the summit discussed the cooperation and the joint work between the European Union and the NATO alliance.
Days before the inking of a historic agreement between NATO’s government and the EU to confront the threats of Russia and the terrorism in the Middle East, Officials say that Brexit threatens the new defense strategy in Europe. NATO has previously announced that the Brexit will not affect the UK’s position in the alliance, which pushed many observers to ask about the type of future cooperation between Europe and the United Kingdom in the NATO following the referendum.
The European Union and the United States intend to take advantage of two separate summits to be held by the Union and the NATO in the coming days to push for reforms in the two institutions, aiming to reduce the European dependence on Washington.
A senior Western defense official, who participates in the cooperation between the two institutions, said that things will become more difficult, as NATO planned to link itself to a strong European Union, and not to be an option of a split weak bloc.
An expert and political analyst in the Commission’s headquarters in Brussels said that following the British referendum, the partnership’s balances through the Atlantic alliance will change, and both European and American parties will work on restructuring their relations.
Accordingly, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has paid a sudden visit to Brussels, where he held discussions in the EU and the NATO’s headquarters. Kerry said that his country can cooperate with Europe to cope with the referendum’s consequences. He also stressed the importance of setting a roadmap for the joint work, along with maintaining special relations with the United Kingdom.
Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary general, said that with Brexit, the European Union has lost a powerful contributor to European military missions. He expected the EU to become more dependent on the German and the French contributions.
Yet, the UK is concerned. British Defense Minister Michael Fallon has told Reuters that his country doesn’t want to see its forces under Brussels’ control.