BELGIUM, March 4 (CNA) - NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned on Thursday (Mar 4) that Europe's defence depends on close transatlantic bonds and not on a quest for the continent's strategic autonomy.

Most EU member states are also NATO member states, and their citizens' safety relies on an alliance that far outspends their own capitals on security, he argued.

In an interview with AFP, after an address at the College of Europe in Belgium, Stoltenberg said he welcomed Brussels' efforts to boost spending and streamline its defence industry.

But he was dubious about calls for the continent to develop "strategic autonomy" of the kind championed by France's President Emmanuel Macron.

The European Union doesn't have an army of its own, but the European Commission is seeking what it calls a more "geopolitical role", with its own foreign and defence industry policy.

Fellow Brussels-based institution NATO, by contrast, bills itself as the most successful military alliance in the world - in large part thanks to American military spending.

"I support EU efforts on defence, because more defence spending, new military capabilities and addressing the fragmentation of the European defence industry - all of that will be good for European security, for transatlantic security, for all of us," he told AFP.

"So all these efforts - as long as they complement NATO - we welcome them, but the EU cannot defend Europe."