The European Union and NATO have much in common, sharing members and pursuing similar goalswrites Judy Dempsey.
But instead of cooperating on defense, analysts say, the two organizations are engaged in a bitter competition that is damaging the credibility and effectiveness of both. …
The countries at the center of this competition, analysts say, are Britain, which wants to preserve and strengthen NATO, and France, which wants the EU to grow into a more robust defense institution, independent of NATO.
"The competition is there," said Peter Schwarz of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin. "There is always the tendency by France to try to separate the EU's defense policy from NATO."
Indeed, when Germany agreed to command the EU's latest military mission to Democratic Republic of the Congo, which started in July, Chancellor Angela Merkel wanted to cooperate with NATO by using its planning headquarters, SHAPE, based in Mons, Belgium. But President Jacques Chirac of France and his Foreign Ministry insisted that the EU command the mission - alone, and from Potsdam, just south of Berlin, where the EU's newest military operations headquarters is based. …
NATO has repeatedly asked the EU for more civilian and humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan, particularly since both organizations say security cannot be attained without economic development and jobs. But the European Commission has refused.
"The Commission put its foot down largely because of opposition from some of the member states," Keohane said. These included Belgium, France, Greece and Spain, EU diplomats said.