EU seeks to lessen dependence on US in wake of Afghanistan exit

Kranj, Slovenia, Sep 2 (EFE).- The defense ministers of the European Union held talks here Thursday on developing the capability to carry out missions such as the recent evacuations from Afghanistan without having to rely on the United States.

“I think that it is clear that the need for more European defense has never been as evident as today,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said. “We were dependent on the Americans.”

“If we don’t want to be dependent on the choices that others make, even if they are friends and allies, we need to develop our own capabilities,” he insisted, reflecting a feeling among the 27 EU members that Washington’s decisions constrained their actions in Kabul.

Borrell will formally put forward in November a proposal to create a 5,000-strong rapid reaction force that can be deployed as needed.

Not all member states agreed with the premise.

Luxembourg’s defense minister, François Bausch, advocated for other coordination measures such as the joint purchase of military equipment by all European armies.

In the event that agreement among all 27 members proves impossible, Germany suggested invoking Article 44 of the Lisbon Treaty, which allows a group of countries to move forward with joint action.

Borrell said that while he would favor such an approach, Article 44 would still require approval from the non-participating members.

Regarding the future of EU ties with Afghanistan, Borrell said that the relationship would be “condition-based.”

One condition, he said, would be that the Taliban create an “inclusive” government.

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