The Eurodeterrent: NATO’s Existential Crisis or a European Enigma?

By Ozan Beran Akturan, Jordi Vasquez, Yiyang Li, Alex Castro, Noah McLean, Alex Shura, Asher Rose


What does NATO represent? With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the alliance needed a new focus for its purpose and rhetoric. The relative safety and stability of the new European continent seemed to leave NATO devoid of meaning. In fact, even the American dominance and apparent unipolarity of the late 20th century new world-order was too simple of an answer to justify the military-political niche NATO was left to occupy, given the emergence of complex security threats, e.g. soft power and terrorism, against which Article V of collective defense could not effectively combat. Thus, at times, the alliance found its purpose in conflict management – as in the Kosovo mission – and other times in fostering regional stability and democratization – the NATO-Ukraine partnership being the most recent example. However, deterrence has been the official appeal of the 21st- century NATO to its “threatened” members, especially to the Baltic states. The responsibility to deter has not only justified military capacity building in Europe, further safeguarding the American sphere of influence, but also positioned itself on high moral grounds, as made possible by an increasingly aggressive Russia with a modernized military.

The nuclear component of this deterrence agenda has proved to be the most contentious. In particular, NATO’s commitment to stay as a nuclear alliance as long as nuclear weapons exist and pursue nuclear deterrence policies strained global denuclearization efforts and strengthened the NATO-skeptic attitude of Russia. The insistence on nuclear deterrence was a sign of NATO’s existential crisis as well as an organic consequence of present-day security dynamics. In this environment, crucial questions such as the problems of nuclear deterrence in the current global order have been left with ambiguous answers. However, vital debates that have long been stalled on the nature of nuclear deterrence – if it is palliative or curative – have started to reappear after some European politicians have talked about their desire to create a European nuclear deterrence scheme – the Eurodeterrent- independent of the already in place nuclear sharing program of NATO in Europe. In this article, we address the evolution of the historical NATO-EU nuclear cooperation in light of the contemporary political challenges the Eurodeterrent would face. In particular, we aim for developing a sense of critical judgement on the following topics:

1) Is Europe’s desire for an independent Eurodeterrent a testament to NATO’s obsolete character?

2) How might the development of Eurodeterrent affect the NATO-EU cooperation in long term?

3) Is Eurodetrrent is feasible given the EU’s wavering spirit of unity?

4) How does the discussion of Eurodeterrent inform us about the global trajectory of nuclear disarmament and anti-nuclear sentiment in Europe?

We will begin with a look at the roots and form of the current nuclear sharing scheme. Then we will examine possibilities for the Eurodeterrent. Next, we will see what conventional deterrence tells us about both EU cooperation, and deterrence in general. We will look at the idea of EU unity and whether it is truly a reality. Finally, we will close with some concluding thoughts on the significance of the Eurodeterrent to our four questions.

History of the Triad System: Seeds of NATO Nuclear Sharing

The conceptual origin of nuclear deterrence traces back to Cold War’s triad strategy, involving three arms. These consisted of land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, air-based strategic bombers, and submarine-based ballistic missiles. The air component of the triad, the heavy bombers, was crucial for highly-accurate massive destruction, but took a long time to be deployed and was vulnerable to enemy attack. The land component, or intercontinental ballistic missiles, had the greatest range and provided massive destruction and accuracy, but was not immune to a first-strike by the enemy. The submarine component, however, provided excellent survivability and almost certain retaliatory second-strike capability, which was primed for survivability and rapid response in case of an enemy first-strike. In addition to these, for both the Americans and the Russians, were the tactical nuclear weapons with smaller range which would deter conventional enemy attacks. This nuclear complement was mostly in the form of nuclear artillery shells, tactical ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs carried by dual-purpose aircrafts. During Cold War, in addition to participating in a nuclear sharing scheme and deploying US nuclear weapons at their own military bases, known as NATO nuclear sharing and detailed later, the United Kingdom and France also developed their independent nuclear forces similar to the triad structure, but in smaller scale.

During the cold war, Europe was confronted from many sides: Western European countries faced not only conventional threats by Communist forces but also strategic nuclear threats. To deter the latter and guarantee European security, the United States offered a “nuclear umbrella” over the Western Europe via NATO, known as NATO’s nuclear sharing program, by deploying nuclear weapons in Europe. The sharing scheme was designed not only to increase military readiness through tactical nuclear weapons that could be used by allied air forces, but also to demonstrate the American political resolve for European protection; thus, nuclear sharing was welcomed as a necessary fortification of this triad-system.  In addition to safeguarding European security, the program allowed the United States to exert influence abroad and maintain nuclear capabilities overseas. NATO’s nuclear sharing is still in place and so far catalyzed cooperation between US and NATO-member European states that lacked their own nuclear arsenals. To date, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy, and Turkey have received US tactical nuclear weapons through the program.

Post Cold-War Dynamics: Europe Growing Lonely

However, with the end of the Cold War, the extent of the triad-system, hence that of nuclear sharing, drastically changed. Over the years, nuclear sharing lost its political immediacy, signalling the overall weakening in transatlantic defense cooperation. Although the US kept its nuclear deterrence scheme and size almost unchanged at home, since the end of the Cold War, it has removed 90% of its nuclear weapons from Europe, including all of their land-based tactical nuclear missiles. This was the first blow to NATO-EU nuclear cooperation, the most present symptom of which is the suggested European abandonment of the NATO nuclear sharing program and its replacement by Eurodeterrent. This European appeal for Eurodeterrent is driven by two factors: the technical and military shortcomings of the nuclear sharing within the triad system, for only the air-based component of the triad allows for nuclear weapons to be shared among members, and the increasing call for European autonomy from the US as first exemplified by EU’s attempts for creating its independent collective defense structure with minimal NATO interference.

First, the technical limitations of operating the pre-existing nuclear sharing scheme within the triad structure should be discussed. To start with the submarine and land-based components of the triad system, we should emphasize that in the event of a crisis, it would be very hard or impossible to share such missiles with European countries in time to have an impact. For instance, as it stands, the only land-based nuclear weapon the US holds is the Minutemen III, which is deployed solely in the continental US, making the sharing of  land-based arm of the nuclear triad impossible. On top of this shareability problem, disarmament of European ballistic missiles made the continent heavily dependent on the American nuclear arsenal, making it difficult for European countries to stay active in nuclear deterrence agenda without American cooperation. European countries other than the UK and France have no access to any nuclear arms. France has disarmed all its land-based ballistic missiles since 1996. The United Kingdom has also taken drastic steps in disarmament of nuclear forces, leaving only 4 nuclear submarines as their entire nuclear force. The total submarine ballistic missile presence in the EU is 8, half by the French and half by the British, whereas the US currently possess 14 Ohio Class ballistic missile submarines that each hold up to 20 ballistic missiles with multiple warheads, which demonstrates that Europe would not have a viable arsenal at home if it wants to spearhead the nuclear trend.

In short, Europe would be reliant on the US for nuclear submarines. Combined with the fact that Europe could also not have access to American land-based nuclear missiles as all are located in continental America, this impracticality of submarine sharing render triad-system almost archaic in terms of naval and territorial mobility. The remaining part of the triad, aircraft-based nuclear deterrence, is hence the only part of the triad that is practical in existing nuclear sharing. The US B61 nuclear bomb is currently deployed in five European countries (Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey) and have a combined total of fewer than 200 nuclear bombs. These bombs are old, but constitute the only portion of the nuclear capacity of EU countries other than the UK and France, which can use them with US authorization. Yet, they can only be deployed by those countries’ dual-purpose aircrafts (for both conventional and nuclear use). The only currently deployed aircrafts that fit into this category are the F-16 and the Tornado, which are both out of date and will be retired soon without any planned substitutes. In short, the technical difficulties in sustaining the European nuclear force is widespread and politically complex.

Second, since the end of Cold War, the decrease in nuclear protection that the US offers under the NATO sharing scheme has reinforced the idea of well-integrated European military cooperation, which assumed the form of the proposed Eurodeterrent only recently. After the Second World War, with the Iron Curtain wedged through the heart of Europe and the stated intent of new NATO leaders  to “keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down,” it is no wonder that the lack of political will ruled out a common European Defense.  While scholars cite this past lack of political will as preventing European common defence, the tide seems to be changing with greater demands for an independently sufficient and less US-dependent EU security network, especially after the election of President Trump, who was critical of NATO’s vitality and harshly criticized the member states that didn’t devote 2% of their GDP to defense, and following the Russian strong-arm annexation of Ukrainian Crimea in 2014. These culminated with the signing of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) agreement in December of 2017, where 25 EU countries—excluding only Britain, Denmark, and Malta—agreed to jointly fund, develop, and deploy their armed forces. European Council President Donald Tusk called it “bad news for our enemies” and referenced the long road to European military solitary which began in the 1950s. Additionally, the unique recent political climate may prove just right for what German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has called “a historic step [and] milestone in European Development. Internally, Britain’s departure from the EU actually removes the obstacles it posed with its unwillingness to support a common European defense. In the meantime, the newfound intent of France to take on a lead role in the European defense cooperation provides a uniquely favorable framework that may enable the long-anticipated idea to finally materialize.

The Euro-Deterrent’s Lynchpin: The French Option

The calls and threats by US President Donald Trump for Europe to spend more on its militaries has led to even further doubts about the US resolve to protect the EU. This is accompanied by the increased threat from Russia after the Crimean annexation and subsequent aggressive activity and rhetoric – as most feared by the Baltic states. Therefore, given the doubts over the legitimacy of  NATO’s nuclear sharing scheme after the end of the Cold War, accompanied by all the sharing limitations inherent to the triad system and louder calls for a consolidated European common defense, it is time for Europe to re-evaluate the future of its nuclear sharing with NATO in order to strengthen the rationale of the future Eurodeterrent. An essential question that needs immediate clarification is how and by whom the technical and economic burden of Eurodeterrent would be shouldered, since the political and military planning of the possible substitutes for the US nuclear arsenal are critical for the Eurodeterrent’s feasibility. The two European nuclear powers are the United Kingdom and France, yet with the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, the only viable candidate to bear the material cost of Eurodeterrent is France.

Although Germany has the financial and technological power to develop its own nuclear force, its pursuing of the Eurodetterent would stand directly against the Non-Proliferation Treaty to which all NATO and EU members are signatories and to which Germany feels the strong urge to adhere due to its political history and very strong domestic anti-nuclear sentiment. To complicate it even further, the “Two Plus Four Agreement” that outlined the re-unification of Germany states that the German military could never possess, manufacture or have control over nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Therefore, establishing a German nuclear force seems to be far from the near future, if ever. Hence, France is effectively the only viable candidate for the projected European Nuclear Deterrence program for now. Therefore, the viability of using the French Force de dissuasion (strike force) as the core of the European nuclear deterrence program remains a current political and economical bottleneck of the project.

Militarily, the French nuclear force possesses 4 nuclear submarines each armed with 16 nuclear missiles, providing a reliable second-strike capability, and about 50 nuclear-capable cruise missiles that can launch tactical warheads from aircraft in service. By combining the second strike strategic capability and the shareable tactical nuclear capability, the French nuclear arsenal is at least militarily fit to be a deterrence force. However, politically, the French doctrine has always seen their nuclear forces as closely tied to the republic, and its president holds the final and ultimate control of these weapons. In fact, France had rejected a West German proposal to share nuclear deterrence during the Cold War, so it is highly doubtful if France would be willing to fully extend their nuclear umbrella to the rest of Europe. Therefore, the French option is characterized by political ambiguity,  at least for now.

Conventional Deterrence: An Omen of Things to Come?

As we have seen, the needs of European deterrence are not necessarily being fulfilled by the existing U.S. controlled nuclear sharing. Indeed, the withdrawal of elements of the U.S. nuclear triad from Europe since the end of the Cold War has put the EU in a potentially precarious position, vis-a-vis a resurgent Russia. For now efforts at creating a Eurodeterrent are hampered by the current unwillingness of France to part with its independent nuclear force. But this is not the only limitation to current efforts at a Eurodeterrent. As we will see, there is also the issue of EU unity. Namely, the divide between core and periphery. For now, let us examine what levels of unity already exist, especially with regard to conventional deterrence. European commitment to NATO’s Very High Readiness Task Force and current force-sharing plans between EU member states demonstrate this potential. In order to consider the possibility of a unified EU conventional deterrence strategy, the current NATO conventional deterrence strategy must first be discussed. The overlap in membership between NATO and the EU makes this strategy the effective status-quo for pan-European conventional deterrence, albeit with significant support from the United States.

NATO conventional deterrence strategy involves the creation of “credibility” via up to date, effective conventional forces working around a system of “modest tripwires.” NATO’s aim is not to provide a complete conventional defense strategy for the whole of Europe. Instead, its primary goal is to affirm its ability and resolve to support any member state in the event of foreign aggression. To accomplish this goal, NATO’s conventional forces must be strong and capable enough to appear ready and willing to intervene in any threatening situation. These forces are essential even with the NATO nuclear deterrent. If NATO appears to be overly reliant on nuclear weapons, its willingness to intervene in the event of relatively minor aggression will be challenged. These general principles underpin nearly all conventional deterrence strategies and can be applied to potential European combined nuclear and conventional deterrence as well.

The NATO conventional deterrence strategy is based on a cold-war concept of defense-in-depth. This strategy requires NATO’s border regions to be sacrificed in the initial stages of a conflict to allow concentrated reserve units to strike advancing armies with overwhelming force. Faced with the Cold War threat of massed Soviet forces moving rapidly through Europe’s central plains, this strategy seemed the most reliable mode of defense. While this specific Cold War threat is no longer present, defense-in-depth still appeals to the militaries of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. None of these nations would likely be the target of direct Russian aggression, making potential territorial losses on the European periphery immaterial to these major players. Their military forces are concentrated at home, ready to deliver an overwhelming second strike in the event of a major Eastern European conflict. Despite the appeal of defense-in-depth, though, it is not the ideal conventional deterrence strategy for Europe at present.

A conventional deterrence strategy of preclusion is likely to be more effective than defense-in-depth when the current Russian threat is considered. Preclusion involves a rigid frontier manned by military forces capable of inhibiting most enemy activity. Rather than using border regions as areas in which to enact strategic retreats and maneuvers, preclusion aims to deny a potential enemy any territorial advances, considering any ground lost unlikely to be regained. This strategy appeals not only in the context of the altered nature of the European threat, including the emergence of hybrid warfare, but in the context of the political systems that support NATO. In the event of a potential Russian incursion into a NATO country, immediate overwhelming reinforcements of the type demanded by a defense-in-depth deterrence strategy might not be forthcoming from the fractious allies that comprise NATO. Preclusion then, would provide a political tripwire demanding a response. A tough border force capable of using its local superiority to resist intrusions is a clearly advantageous system for European defense.

NATO’s mission and political composition makes it unlikely to shift its conventional deterrence strategy in the short term. The transfer of substantial military assets to Eastern Europe coupled with a strong commitment to the territorial integrity of small states in that region are politically unlikely for the alliance at present. The reasons for this reluctance to change are many, including the desire to avoid perceived “offensive” action in the vicinity of Russia and the lack of faith on the part of the Trump administration in various smaller member states. While NATO may help provide military assets and a transatlantic strategic connection, only the combined nations of Europe possess the military and political capital to implement the strategic and practical components of a preclusion strategy. Consequently, European nations must work together to provide the conventional deterrence necessary to adequately address the shortcomings of NATO conventional deterrence strategy.

The Baltic states present a case study revealing the problems with the current NATO approach of defense-in-depth. Baltic states cannot match the numerical and technological advantages of the Russian Federation. Rather than focusing on conventional military assets – such as tanks, aircraft, and naval craft – the Baltic states have shaped their defense doctrines around guerrilla tactics and heavy usage of infantry. None of these measures are expected to comprehensively defeat a Russian attack. The primary goal of the Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian militaries is to drag an invading force into a war of attrition until NATO intervenes. However, a RAND study suggested that the Baltic states would be overrun by Russian forces in no more than 60 hours, despite any efforts by NATO to provide reinforcements. Remedying this weakness would require a massive increase in NATO forces in the Baltic. Politically, as stated above, this is unlikely to occur.

Thus, while the Baltic states have optimized their militaries to work within current NATO doctrine, the present vulnerability of these states combined with the changed nature of the Russian threat suggests a new conventional deterrence concept is required. Russia presents a threat based on “little green men” and other smaller-scale, semi-covert military operations, often described as “hybrid warfare.” These forces were successful in Crimea and have effectively supported separatist elements in the Ukraine for several years. Defense-in-depth, while easy and perhaps even practical for large NATO member nations, has proven incapable of even responding to, much less countering, Russian aggression in Eastern Europe. It cannot effectively address either a large-scale conventional assault (as shown in the RAND study and above) or a hybrid warfare situation. Europe needs a new conventional deterrence strategy, preferably structured around preclusion.

Europe has recently made substantial progress towards creating a military force capable of enacting a conventional deterrence strategy based on preclusion. However, many of these efforts are based on the idea of joint response or expeditionary action, not common defense and deterrence. Proposals like those recently made by French President Emmanuel Macron in support of a far more cohesive, potent European defense doctrine are still in their formative stages and do not yet represent a concrete foundation for united military action. Thus, in order to immediately redress the strategic weakness of the current NATO conventional deterrence strategy, Europe must adopt a model of bottom-up integration based on the force-sharing systems currently in place.

A number of integrated military forces already exist across Europe, suggesting a starting point for creating European conventional defense forces. The oldest and most unique example is the Franco-German Brigade stationed across Germany and France. There is also the German-Netherlands Corps and the integration of the German Naval Forces Protection Battalion into the Dutch Navy. Additional integration progress has been made through recent NATO initiatives. Though NATO would, in this system of integration, no longer be the basis for European conventional deterrence, the NATO Framework Nations Concept offers a basis for unified action that has already achieved considerable results. This program offers smaller NATO member nations the opportunity to partially integrate their armed forces within those of a large member state, most notably Germany. By pooling resources and engaging in joint operations, the capacities of both nations can be enhanced. Each foreign unit currently integrated within the German military system, for instance, adds local capability and desire to engage in preclusive deterrence to a powerful European political actor.

In a European conventional deterrence model, integration could proceed independent of the NATO Framework Nations Concept. United by a common desire not to be the surrendered battlegrounds to which they would be reduced in a NATO defense-in-depth strategy, European nations need only provide enough strength on their borders to substantially hinder any Russian attempt to engage in another Crimea-style operation. This grassroots alliance could then provide the basis for the European defense force discussed with increasing urgency in Paris and Brussels.

Security in the Periphery: EU Unity

As we have seen, cooperation in conventional deterrence presages the potential for greater European integration, especially if new conventional strategies like preclusion are implemented. Nonetheless, we must examine the general unity within the EU. Things do not look great. The most potent example of the disunity of the EU/NATO was the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2015. In a Pew Research Poll conducted from April 6th to May 15th among the inhabitants of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States, a medium of 70% supported sending economic aid to Ukraine and 57% backed Ukraine joining NATO. However, Germany and Italy, two of the most important members of the EU and NATO, came out strongly against, with respectively only 36 percent and 35 percent supporting the move. Compared to the slight majority of respondents who supported Ukraine joining NATO, the 50% who supported Ukraine joining the EU represented a worryingly mixed opinion. While Ukraine was not an EU or NATO member and thus may represent somewhat of an anomaly, it was attempting to become one prior to the conflict with Russia, and the EU/NATO abandonment of a potential partner and ally is a telling sign of the disunity of the EU and NATO. While the Pew survey of the Ukrainian issue is certainly an eye opener, it isn’t even the most shocking element of the survey.

The far more shocking element of the Pew Poll was the response to support of Article V. Among Europeans, a massive 49% thought their country should not defend an ally, displaying an incredibly lackluster commitment to collective security. With regards to if their country should defend a NATO ally, the British (49%) displayed the greatest commitment to collective security while Germany (38%) displayed the least, and it is a worrying sign that the greatest supporter of Collective security in Europe has severed its ties with the European Union, only further weakening the EU’s unity.

While the Pew poll does reveal a worrying lack of EU unity among the public, there have already been measures to solidify EU unity. In the field of conventional military cooperation, Germany, one of the most influential members, has agreed to join  NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, a rapid response force created in September 2014 that is to be deployed to Eastern Europe. Just as importantly, Germany has also entered a military sharing agreement in which a German battalion will be placed under Polish Command and a Polish battalion will be placed under German Command in order to strengthen military cooperation and unity between these two nations. While not under the direct control of the Baltic states, NATO’s “Baltic Air Policing” program would be enough to intercept any nuclear-capable aircraft launched from the Russian Federation and would deter further retaliation due to the presence of other NATO members. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania’s EU membership also includes them in EU projects related to cyber defense. While it is unlikely that the EU is developing technologies designed to sabotage a nuclear weapon, the Baltic states are included in any sort of initiative under the EU’s umbrella of digital defense.

The other major example of strengthening EU Unity to defend the periphery is energy related. While the Baltic States have until recently operated their electricity grids in synchronicity with Russia, EU Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete stated “Achieving the electricity synchronisation of the Baltics will be a symbol of true European solidarity. The Commission will support this process and is ready to facilitate discussions between Member States. And we are backing the synchronisation project through its recent inclusion in the 3rd Projects of common interest list, which will give it potential access to EU financing. This could be an important milestone in helping to complete the EU-wide energy market and improve security of supply in the Baltic region.” This integration of the Baltic States into the EU, even if just through the electric grid, is a welcome sign of the European commitment to unity with the periphery in face of outside aggression. More broadly, it is possible that increased economic ties would necessarily incentivize Western European countries to care more about eastern defense.

While the question of whether the EU would effectively utilize a nuclear deterrent to defend the periphery is still up in the air, the EU’s commitment to collective security is undeniably increasing. With the continuing military, economic, social, and cultural binding of the periphery and core members of the EU, the EU could eventually become unified in its support of the periphery and commitment to the use of nuclear deterrence in their defence.

Concluding Perspectives

The Eurodeterrent would greatly change the power dynamics of the Western world, seriously harming NATO’s (and therefore the United States’) ability to project power. Currently, the United States has 200 nuclear weapons in Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Turkey as part of its nuclear sharing program. Despite Turkey being the holder of the majority of these, the loss of four out of five of the US nuclear sites would greatly reduce NATO’s ability to perform an effective counterattack in the event of nuclear war. In 2010, NATO stated its goals for the next decade, one of the most salient being the restatement that NATO is and will be “a nuclear alliance”. With the introduction of a Eurodeterrent, what is the need for Europe to be in another nuclear alliance? Perhaps a NATO involved in European affairs would be completely obsolete. This is not to mention the questionable legality of nuclear sharing in the first place, after the passing of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). NATO has continued to assert its nuclear sharing follows the guidelines of the Treaty but its argument has been widely criticized and questioned. Just like NATO has attempted, the EU must tackle the difficult task of distributing nuclear weapons yet remaining signatories of the NPT.

A fully nuclear-equipped EU would be quite similar to a new sovereign superpower, with its own agenda and concerns that have continuously proven to be sometimes independent of the rest of the Western world. In some ways, the EU would be freer to focus on the issues that matter most to the Union, but would simultaneously become responsible for their own defense, which the US and NATO currently greatly support. The EU would be greatly empowered in one sense, now able to enforce its will internationally with nuclear force and become increasingly distant from the demands of the United States and NATO. But at the same time, defense budgets throughout the EU would need to rise greatly to compensate.

The political history and current situation in France suggests that a Eurodeterrent is  not feasible at the moment. However, in the future, this may be more than simply a dream. In order for a Eurodeterrent to be implemented, Europe would need to look quite different. France would have to be willing to donate a substantial portion of its nuclear arsenal to the EU, and perhaps even relinquish direct control over the weapons as well. Germans, 71% of whom currently support a total nuclear ban, must largely support this program, because Germany is one of the most important economic, political and military forces of the EU. A Eurodeterrent would only be necessary if the already existing NATO nuclear sharing program was unable to address security concerns or NATO and EU had different reasons to have a deterrent. By viewing the Eurodeterrent in this lens, there is a nonzero probability that these conditions could happen, but it is clear that they do not exist now.

Thus, overall, there are serious barriers that limit the possibility of an independent Eurodeterrent at the moment. France is reluctant to sacrifice its own nuclear force. There is a palpable divide between East and West, especially in the willingness to defend an attacked ally. The security structure in Europe at this moment, with NATO holding the predominant role, also limits the Eurodeterrent’s potential. That is to say, although NATO nuclear sharing does not fully fulfill the needs of the triad deterrence, because it is currently still a dominant force in security provision for Europe, unless the United States signals further withdrawal from Europe it will be in a difficult position to overtake. Nonetheless, there have been moves towards greater EU unity with regard to a variety of security issues, which perhaps points to a future in which the Eurodeterrent is not so unbelievable. As we demonstrated with the energy dependence issue, the discussion on EU deterrence should not be limited to nuclear deterrence. We would also be remiss not to acknowledge the connections between nuclear and conventional deterrence. Existing strategies of defense-in-depth are perhaps unprepared for new doctrines of hybrid warfare. Therefore, we have advocated a strategy of preclusion, in which a focus will be placed on not giving up territory where possible, both militarily and politically. This corresponds better to unconventional threats, while also having the potential to increase EU unity. Conventional European deterrence is thus related to the Eurodeterrent proposal because they both deal with European security cooperation, and because the strategy of preclusion that we see as necessary would indirectly have positive effects for the likelihood of the Eurodeterrent through improving EU unity and security commitments.

Returning to the four questions that we asked at the beginning of this article, we notice that while the Eurodeterrent proposal might not speak to the obsolescence of NATO, it perhaps speaks to a growing dissatisfaction with its present and future guarantees. In this regard the effect of the Euroderrent on NATO-EU cooperation is two-way. That is the Eurodeterrent has the potential to negatively impact NATO-EU cooperation, but a negative turn in NATO-EU cooperation also has the potential to increase the likelihood of the Eurodeterrent. Regarding our interrogation of EU unity, we found mixed results. On the one hand, there is a dangerously low level of support among the populations of the western nations for the defense of their eastern fellow members. On the other hand, we see growing avenues for EU unity across conventional security and energy topics. Finally, there is the issue of anti-nuclear sentiment. It is our feeling that although anti-nuclear sentiment in the EU, especially Germany, creates a roadblock to the Eurodeterrent, it is hard to say how this would be affected by negative changes in the NATO-EU dynamic and/or rising threats. The Eurodeterrent in many ways remains an enigma because it is, at this point, still so theoretical and faces many challenges. Nonetheless, we hope we have demonstrated that its mere proposal indicates a lurking tension in NATO-EU relations.