BRUSSELS --- The United States and its European allies on Thursday commemorated the 75th anniversary of D-Day, which freed the Continent from tyranny. But at the same time, the two sides are squabbling bitterly over the future and funding of European defense.
Washington has been pressing the European Union to spend more and do more for its own defense for well over a decade, with President Trump just the latest and loudest to do so.
Now that the European Union is actually responding, with a defense fund and a project for military cooperation and development, the United States is criticizing how it’s being done and complaining that the moves could harm trans-Atlantic cooperation and prevent American companies from competing for potentially lucrative contracts.
If anything, the spat is another reminder of the sour state of relations between the Trump administration and the European bloc and of the divisions on issues such as trade, climate change and Iran. The fact that a European plan to increase military spending — acceding to a demand from Mr. Trump — has degenerated into acrimony only emphasizes the split.
European diplomats say the issue recently boiled over at a private meeting in Washington. A senior American diplomat, Michael J. Murphy, a top official at the Bureau of Europe and Eurasian Affairs, lectured European Union ambassadors about the United States’ unhappiness with proposed restrictions on third-country participation in European Union defense projects.
Mr. Murphy warned that the European initiatives “could undermine trans-Atlantic security by duplicating NATO efforts and diverting valuable resources” and “make all of us less safe, Americans included.”
Some countries, he said in remarks obtained by The Times, “are pursuing an industrial policy under the veneer of a security policy,” with a priority on supporting national defense industries and trying to cut out participation and competition by nonbloc countries like Canada, Norway, the United States — and importantly, after Brexit, Britain.
European ambassadors who were there, members of the Political and Security Committee of the European Union, which deals with the bloc’s foreign and defense policy, said that the atmosphere was tense and that Mr. Murphy’s remarks did not leave time for discussion afterward. The envoys requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about closed-doors meetings. (end of excerpt)
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The following correspondence was published by the New York Times:
Click here for the May 22 remarks by Michael J. Murphy to European Union Ambassadors in Washington.
Click here for May 16 reply from the EU to US Dept. of Defense and of State.
Click here for May 1 letter from US Dept of Defense and State to EU’s Mogherini