EU Headed towards ‘EU Army’, EC Spokesman Acknowledges after Macron’s Call
Margaritis Schinas says the growing level of intra-EU defense cooperation will likely result in an “EU army”.
In wake of French President Emmanuel Macron’s call for the creation of an EU army, the chief spokesman of the European Commission, the EU executive, has commented that the Union’s existing defense cooperation would likely result in precisely that.
Earlier on Tuesday, Macron called for a “real European army” to reduce dependence on the United States, and to be able to defend the EU against powers such as China and Russia.
The President of France attended a ceremony in Douaumont near Verdun as part of the events marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
Following Macron’s EU army remark, the chief spokesman of the EC, Margaritis Schinas, was asked by reporters if the Commission supported the creation of a “European army”
“This is the Commission that put forward lots of initiatives and proposals to start building gradually a more meaningful and assertive defense identity in these difficult geopolitical times,” he told reporters at a regular briefing, as cited by Reuters.
“I don’t think that this defense identity will start with an EU army. We’ll see that at some point in time, probably down at the end of this process, we may see something that people already describe as an EU army or an EU pooling of resources to make this EU defense identity more visible and more meaningful,” Schinas elaborated.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has been a vocal supporter of the idea that the EU should have its own military capabilities, aside from the U.S.-dominated NATO military alliance.
Brexit has reinvigorated the debate on EU defense cooperation as the UK, the major opponent of a common EU military, is about to depart from the Union.
So have concerns that US President Donald Trump may renege on America’s commitments to European security against the backdrop of Vladimir Putin’s assertive Russia.
Some EU leaders share Britain’s view that giving the EU a big military role could undermine NATO. Traditionally neutral, non-NATO countries in the Union are also wary. However, most member states agreed last December to cooperate on funding and developing their armed forces.
In his comment, EC spokesperson Schinas pointed out the growing intra-EU military cooperation on defense procurement and research under PESCO, the new “Permanent Structured Cooperation”, which was legislated for in 2009 and activated in 2017.
PESCO includes 25 of the 28 EU member states, with the UK, Denmark, and Malta opting out.
EU member states have launched a total of 34 joint missions under the EU flag since 2003 under their existing Common Security and Defense Policy.
(Banner image: Video grab, Emmanuel Macron on Twitter)