Also in October, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg had warned the military alliance should not lose its unity in the fight against Daesh (IS), in light of Turkey's military operation against Kurdish militants in northeastern Syria. Trump's preoccupation with defense spending has been a constant theme since he came to office in 2016 and is expected to feature at the December 3-4 summit in London.
The situation in northern Syria is indeed puzzling for NATO: Turkey is a member of the alliance, but the USA has threatened it and even briefly imposed sanctions over its actions on the Kurdish-controlled Turkish-Syrian border.
Macron has said there is a lack of strategic coordination between European allies on the one hand and the United States and Turkey, with NATO's second largest military, on the other.
"You have partners together in the same part of the world, and you have no coordination whatsoever of strategic decision-making between the United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies", Macron said, in a reference to Trump's recent decision to green light Turkey's operation in Syria, by withdrawing US troops from the target area.
At the time Macron decried NATO's inability to react to Turkey's offensive and said it was time Europe stopped acting like a junior ally of the United States when it came to the Middle East.
Stoltenberg "agreed" with Merkel's statements saying any attempt to distance Europe from the US was also endangering European Union security.
"The European Union can not defend Europe", Stoltenberg said in a speech in Berlin. He demanded they double NATO's defence spending goal of 2% of economic output, set in 2014.
The head of one of the two leading nations of the progressive EU, France and Germany, Macron also lamented that President Donald Trump "doesn't share our idea of the European project". While missing its 2024 target, defence minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer assured allies: "NATO is and will remain the anchor of European security".
In one sign of ongoing cooperation, the U.S. Air Force flew B-52 bombers from the U.S. mainland to train with British and Norwegian allies for nearly a month in October at a time when China and Russian Federation continue to modernise their militaries.
France has long pressed for closer European defence cooperation but has faced resistance from Britain and others which say the United States remains key to Western defence, especially in the face of a more assertive Russian Federation.