In the face of rising crime rates, terror attacks, and ongoing pressure from Donald Trump to increase defense spending, French President Emmanuel Macron is calling to establish a “true European Army.”
“When President Trump has to protect or to defend one of the states of the United States, he doesn’t ask France or Germany, or another government of Europe to finance it,” said Macron before meeting face-to-face with Trump in Paris last week. “That’s why I do believe that we need more investment.”
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed a similar sentiment, telling lawmakers in the EU Parliament that “we have to work on the vision of one day creating a real European army.”
Macron also expressed concerns regarding Trump’s withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty: “When I see President Trump announcing that he’s quitting a major disarmament treaty which was formed in the 1980’s Euro-missile crisis that hit Europe, who is the main victim? Europe and its security.”
Upon returning from Paris, Trump criticized Macron’s idea as “insulting” and reiterated his demand that Europe pay its “fair share of NATO, which the US subsidizes greatly.”
NATO members are encouraged to spend at least 2% of their GDP on defense. France currently spends 1.81% and Germany – the EU’s largest economy – spends 1.24%. The United States spends 3.5%.
“Emmanual Macron suggests building its own army to protect Europe against the US, China, and Russia,” tweeted Trump on Tuesday. “But it was Germany in World Wars One & Two – How did that work out for France? They were starting to learn German in Paris before the US came along. Pay for NATO or not!”
Trump also attacked Macron over trade, unemployment, and his low approval rating.
“The problem is that Emmanuel suffers from a very low Approval Rating in France, 26%, and an unemployment rate of almost 10%. He was just trying to get onto another subject. By the way, there is no country more Nationalist than France, very proud people-and rightfully so!” tweeted Trump, followed by, “MAKE FRANCE GREAT AGAIN!”
Editor’s note: Trump’s expertise is creating conversations (and not necessarily pleasant ones). But to get the EU to take more responsibility for their defense he has accomplished his initial goal, which is to create the conversation.
Ultimately this will lead to change, but who knows what change will happen?