Europe’s weaknesses exposed

Europe’s weaknesses exposed

How unprepared was Europe for the crisis in Ukraine? And how dearly will the war cost the continent? Europe was literally caught sleeping at the wheel. It totally relied on Russia for its energy and on America for its defense.

For decades after the Second World War, the continent behaved like a spoiled child. Europeans felt they did not need to deal with security issues because Washington had taken care of this on their behalf. They did not invest enough on their strategic autonomy and they underestimated the looming threats to their security.

The Ukraine crisis has exposed Europe’s weaknesses. Germany has decided to spend a significant part of its GDP on armaments, overcoming the ideological obsessions of the past. But because the next-generation fighter aircraft that France and Germany are building jointly will be ready in 2040, Berlin was forced to buy 35 F-35 warplanes from the US. Germany is under pressure to send and allow other countries to also send its Leopard tanks to Ukraine. The problem is that the countries that will run out of German tanks after handing them over will then be forced to order American-built Abrams tanks because these will be the only ones immediately available. As for the joint Franco-German next-generation tank, this will also be ready, in the best-case scenario, in 2030.

In the energy sector, US LNG exports have doubled compared to 2021. So it looks like the US is winning on all fronts. Then came Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, a $430 billion bill offering massive subsidies for US-made products. EU states see the strategy as a threat to their economies as many European companies could be tempted to move their operations to America. The risk of a trade war is imminent.

EU officials hear Washington constantly speaking of the need for a united and solid front against Russia, as well as China. However, it is taking no practical steps to promote a plan for the strategic and economic integration of the West. What we are seeing is, in fact, more of Trump’s “America first” policy dogma. This policy however will not be long-lived. It will find support domestically. But it will wear Europe down; ultimately it will generate political reactions and Western cohesion will be put to the test. 

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.