It was reported last week that Turkey has blocked the European Commission President, José Manuel Barroso, and the EU’s President of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy, from attending the upcoming NATO Summit in Chicago. Neither has any business attending the Summit, and Turkey was correct in blocking their attendance.
There are two good reasons why neither Barroso nor Van Rompuy needs to be representing the European Union at Chicago.
First, the European Union is largely a supranational entity. The Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, works for and is accountable to NATO’s member states. The European Commission president is above the member states and accountable to nobody. NATO Summits are a place where serious nation-states gather to take decisions on complex defense and security issues where lives are usually at stake. It is not a place for unelected and unaccountable senior Eurocrats.
Even if EU representation were required at the Summit—which it is not—then 22 out of the 27 EU member states are also in NATO and will already be attending the Summit. Furthermore, another four European Union members who are not members of NATO (Austria, Sweden, Finland and Ireland) will also be present during the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) session at the Summit. This means that only two EU member states, Malta and Cyprus, will not be present in some capacity at the NATO Summit. No great loss.
Secondly, the European Union can never be a serious defense actor, because it contains member states that are declared neutral and wield a veto. Also, two important security partners,NorwayandTurkey, are both members of NATO but not members of the European Union. No organization can be serious about European security without including these two important countries.
The French argue that the EU should be represented due to its contribution to Afghanistan. Again, not a convincing argument. Just look at the European Union’s miniscule contribution to Afghanistan through its EUPOL police training mission. NATO, with a monthly budget of approximately $1 billion for training Afghan Security Forces, including police, spends every 50 hours what the EU spends all year on its EUPOL mission.
There is no reason for any of the supranational elements of the EU to be represented at theSummit. Allowing Barroso and Van Rompuy to represent the European Union would give the EU an implied legitimacy on defense matters that it does not deserve. The EU is not a nation-state and therefore should not be treated as such.