Europeans are still divided on the security of their own continent, and the economic crisis has accentuated the leadership role of the US.
In 2011, US–European relations on security policy were dominated by the successful intervention in Libya (see component 33) and the announcement of deep cuts in military budgets on both sides of the Atlantic because of the financial crisis. But Europeans were no more united regarding European security than in 2010 and, as a result, the US remained in the driving seat on fundamental issues of war and peace on the continent.
Europeans were divided on several important issues, most of them concerning relations with Russia. The Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), for example, is more important to smaller, eastern European countries, than it is to big, western ones. But it continued unravelling, and in 2011 the Americans all but stopped their efforts to revive it and began weighing alternative models for conventional arms control in Europe. In the autumn, European NATO members followed the US and suspended the sharing of certain CFE information with Russia. Similarly, inside NATO (which does not include all EU member states), Europeans disagree on the need for US tactical nuclear weapons on European soil and many look to the US to make decisions. The same is true for the Defense and Deterrence Posture Review process inside NATO, with ongoing divergence on threat perception. One exception to this disunity is missile defence, where the Obama administration’s Phased Adaptive Approach is consensual: in 2011, Poland, Romania and Spain – as well as Turkey – agreed to host parts of the system, which is essentially provided by Washington.
The euro crisis undoubtedly accentuated European passivity. The initiatives of 2010 by Germany and France to establish different security relations with Russia (the Meseberg and Deauville summits) were not followed up in 2011. Europeans were not even capable of co-ordinating the downsizing of their military capabilities, thereby incurring even more reproaches from Washington. The crisis also affected CSDP efforts, which further amplified the role of NATO and the US in European security.