Europe: Russian and Chinese threat ‘is increasing’ says Beaune
The French President has been a vocal advocate of Europe having its own defence force in recent years, and his position was underlined by Minister for Europe Mr Beaune during an interview with French broadcaster CNews. In remarks which are likely to raise eyebrows in the new administration of Joe Biden, Mr Beaune appeared to take a swipe at the new US President and question the USA’s commitment to Europe, while highlighting the threat posed by Vladimir Putin’s Russia and Xi Jinping’s China.
The French want to do more for European defence
Mr Beaune said: “The American want to do less for European defence, the French want to do more for European defence.
“I think that’s the big European project for the years to come.
“Our European partners are close to this path.”
Mr Macron’s support for a European army has been well documented.
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In 2018, during an event to commemorate the centenary of the World War 1 armistice he stressed the need for a “true, European army”, while insisting Europe could no longer rely on the US, then led by Donald Trump, who was defeated by Mr Biden in November.
Mr Macron said: “I want to build a real security dialogue with Russia, which is a country I respect, a European country – but we must have a Europe that can defend itself on its own without relying only on the United States.”
With reference to cyber-security, Mr Macron went further, suggesting the US could potentially be a hostile actor.
He added: “We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America.”
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Daniel Kawczynski, Tory MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham was unimpressed by Mr Beaune’s remarks.
He told Express.co.uk: Anything that undermines the supremacy, unity and cohesion of NATO on our continent is a sure way to bring instability and possible military conflict.
“To allow EU bureaucrats to replicate with defence what they have done over Eurozone and vaccines crises would be an unmitigated disaster for our continent
“We must work with like minded EU/NATO states to prevent this from materialising.
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“The USA, Canada, Iceland, Norway, Britain and Turkey are all critical NATO partners committed to the defence of Europe but not EU members.
“We must not allow these countries to be pushed away by the bungling EU bureaucrats from our common defence as these countries and their populations have no interest in working with this artificial past-its-sell-by-date supranational state.
Concerns about the prospect of a European army have been raised frequently by UK politicians over the years, with Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage referring to the possibility on a number of occasions during the 2015 general election campaign.
Speaking last month, Ben Habib, a former Brexit Party MEP, highlighted a little known aspect of the trade deal between the UK and the EU which commits Britain to pay almost £290million a year into the bloc’s European Defence Fund, which he sees as paying the way for a military force.
Mr Habib told Express.co.uk: “When you go back to 2015 and remember the debate that Nick Clegg had with Nigel Farage, when Nigel said they were aiming to have a standing army and Nick said something like ‘don’t talk garbage, that’s just scaremongering’, they were busy planning it at the same time.
“Now there is no way that the deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom did not know what was going on in the Commission.
“The EDF was the first of a series of establishments set up by the EU for the creation of this European defence union.
“And it is effectively a defence fund, so it is for military research.
“And so the European Union aims to create its own, advanced military-industrial base.”
He added: “This is not what we should be doing and I don’t know whether Boris Johnson knows what he is signing into or if this slipped through.
“They are trying to draw us into their defence web.
“Why the hell is the EU doing military research? This is all heading towards a supra-national state with an army, a standing army.”
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