Saturday, 11 April 2009

NATO & EU: Rewarding freeloading?

Since 1 April 2009 the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has the following 28 members: Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.

In part, NATO is larger than the European Union. There are seven non-EU NATO members: Albania, Canada, Croatia, Iceland, Norway, Turkey and the United States.

The remaining 21 are members of both NATO and the European Union. Double membership clearly represents the European mainstream.

Out of a total of 27 current EU member states, only six have left themselves outside NATO: Austria, Cyprus, Finland, Ireland, Malta and Sweden.

These countries represent a fringe within the EU in four respects:

1. Their total population is about 28.2 million, or 5.7 per cent of a total EU population of 495.1 million.
2. Geographically they are more or less on the outer rim of the EU (although Austria has been overtaken and embedded by later entrants).
3. Their definitions of (military) non-alignment or neutrality have kept them outside NATO.
4. Their status with regard to the security and defence aspects of the common foreign and security policy can be described as an opt-out (The policy of the Union in accordance with this Article shall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain Member States … ; Article 17 TEU).

To continue the discussion from my post Tony Blair new “EU President?” I ask: How could such a freeloading country (or a representative from one of them) be expected to drive forward a common defence policy and a common European defence?

This is, after all, one of the crucial areas for the European Council, and as such of its coming President.

Do the arguments look different, if we look at the double-hatted High Representative?

Am I being unreasonable or have these countries disqualified themselves from the top jobs under the Lisbon Treaty?

In my humble opinion, responsibilities and rewards should go hand in hand.

Ralf Grahn