The German Defense Minister said on Monday that the European Union must match NATO’s drive to protect the continent against Russia’s build-up.

EU matching NATO

Ursula von der Layen said told a security conference on Monday that Kremlin’s behavior calls for the modernization of the European security and defense union to match that of NATO.

She also underscored that she was looking for complementarity rather than competition between the two bodies. At the heart of the proposal is pooling of military assets, administration, and infrastructure, releasing resources that can be deployed to develop technology and the development of tangible capability, including a consolidated force that can defend European cyberspace.

France, Germany, Italy, and Spain are calling for a common European defense policy that does not depend on the United States. Britain vows to block the union for as long as it remains in the EU. The German Minister said on Monday that missions such as patrolling to Mediterranean for migrant crossings should be a job for the EU, not NATO.

British opposition

At the EU Defense Council in Bratislava, the British Secretary of Defense Michael Fallon said the U.K would oppose “a single set of forces” or “a European Army.” Fallon opposed the idea of a European Army HQ, distinct from NATO’s; he objected to the dispersion of scant military resources, and he spoke repeatedly about avoiding “duplication” of any kind.

Sweden, the Netherlands, Poland, and the Baltic States appear to be standing behind the British position. Fallon told the BBC in late September that up to 12 states oppose the idea of a European Defense Union, not least because the idea cuts across national sovereignty. “We are all Eurosceptics,” he told reporters.

epa05557876 German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen (L) and French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian talk as they arrive for the Informal Meeting of the European Union (EU) Defence Ministers in Bratislava, Slovakia, 27 September 2016.  EPA/CHRISTIAN BRUNA
German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen (L) and French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian talk as they arrive for the Informal Meeting of the European Union (EU) Defence Ministers in Bratislava, Slovakia, 27 September 2016. EPA/CHRISTIAN BRUNA