14:33 GMT28 January 2021
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    The bloc’s request comes amid ongoing debate among European powers about just how much the US should be relied upon to defend the Continent.

    The European Union will create its own secure communications capabilities if NATO doesn’t share its resources, German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has indicated.

    “If we – as it seems for the foreseeable future – must continue to meet virtually, then we have two options,” Kramp-Karrenbauer, who also serves as leader of Germany’s ruling Christian Democratic Union Party, indicated in a 11 December review of Germany’s term as president of the European Council.

    According to the politician, these options include using NATO's headquarters, which are apparently “big enough."

    An unnamed NATO official told DefenseNews that the idea of sharing the alliance’s secure online meeting software would need to be “assessed carefully,” since only 21 of NATO’s 30 member states are part of the EU.

    Kramp-Karrenbauer’s remarks come amid ongoing debate within the EU regarding the extent of Europe’s security dependence on NATO. US-European ties within NATO have been strained in recent years by President Donald Trump’s insistence that other bloc members start “pulling their weight” and commit at least two percent of their GDP to defence.

    European Army Debate

    Last month, Kramp-Karrenbauer and French President Emmanuel Macron engaged in a heated debate about the creation of a “European Army.” The German politician encouraged Europe to accept the “sobering facts” about America’s “crucial role as a security provider,” but Macron disagreed “profoundly” with this position.

    “The United States will only respect us as allies if we are serious about our own position, and if we have our own sovereignty regarding our defence,” Macron said.

    The French president has repeatedly expressed interest in the creation of a European Army, with US officials and Trump dismissing the idea. The UK has also expressed its disdain for the proposal, although with more diplomacy. 

    Emmanuel Macron suggests building its own army to protect Europe against the U.S., China and Russia. 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 U.S. came along. Pay for NATO or not!

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 13, 2018

    The idea of a European Army was previously stoked by former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who called for the formation of a united defence force in 2015 to “convey to Russia that we are serious about defending the values of the EU.”

    The fate of NATO has been a talking point ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the alliance’s main prospective adversary, in 1991. Since then, instead of dissolving, the alliance has grown to incorporate every former member of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact, as well as seven former republics of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, while also signing military agreements with Ukraine and Georgia.

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