By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in Brussels
"Old Europe" threw down the gauntlet at the feet of Britain, the United States and the Atlantic Alliance at a mini-summit yesterday, unveiling plans for a new Euro-army with its own military headquarters.
France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg - described by some in the US as the "Axis of Weasel" - vowed to press ahead with a full-fledged defence union, brushing aside warnings that the move would entrench the European Union's bitter divisions over Iraq and could lead to the break-up of Nato.
A new rapid reaction force would be built around the existing Franco-German brigade, taking in Belgian commandos and units from Luxembourg. It would answer to a headquarters in the Brussels suburb of Tervuren and be ready for joint operations next year.
Jacques Chirac, the French president, insisted that the plans would bolster Nato by making Europe a more credible partner for Washington, and denied there was an attempt to set up a rival to Nato's operational command. "The aim is not to decouple European Union and Atlantic Alliance defence efforts," he said.
But M Chirac gave out mixed signals when he gently rebuked Tony Blair for advocating a "one polar world" and warning of a new Cold War if Europe tried to become a rival power to America.
"Quite naturally a multi-polar world is being created, whether one likes it or not. It's inevitable. For balance to exist, there will have to be a strong Europe. Relations between the European Union and the United States will have to be a partnership between equals," said M Chirac.
He invited all 25 of the EU's current and future states to join the new defence core, but the so-called New Europe camp - led by Britain, Spain, Italy and Poland - has reacted with deep suspicion. Ana Palacio, the Spanish foreign minister, said the proposals were "counter-productive" and would cause needless division at a delicate time.
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CJ AEGIS, tennyson, jon, and others, how effective of a counterweight to the US is this likely to be?
Edit: Added jon
Edited by Certifiably Cait, 26 August 2012 - 03:09 PM.