Despite repeated assurances by the “Remain” group during the Brexit referendum campaign, plans are moving ahead at full speed to establish what some consider an “EU Army.” Germany and France presented their plans for a common EU defense strategy this Tuesday, to be discussed further at a summit in December.
“Now is the time for us to move ahead in terms of a European Defense Union,” said German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen. “The initiative is designed for a strong Europe. This Europe also wants to have good relations with Britain in the future, especially in the area of defense… It’s not about a European Army.”
Proposals include establishing a central EU military HQ, increased spending on military operations, expanding peacekeeping abroad, jointly developing assets like drones and helicopters, and constructing stronger defenses against hackers.
The UK is firmly against these plans, and Britain’s Secretary of State for Defense, Sir Michael Fallon, argues that the creation of a European Defense Union would “undermine” NATO.
“NATO wants adequate support and Britain sees some aspects of the EU’s ambitions that are useful, say on terrorism and cyber security,” said MEP and former Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet. According to Paet, diplomacy in Bratislava will be centered on convincing London that a stronger EU defense is in NATO’s interest.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who is chairing the talks, says that NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg’s presence means that the EU and NATO are working together. “It has been conveyed very clearly that this is not about establishing anything which is duplicating the efforts of NATO, but which is in complementarity to NATO,” said Stoltenberg.
Nonetheless, Fallon remains firmly against the formation of a common EU defense, and Britain retains full voting rights until it completes the process of leaving the EU (which will occur in 2019 at the earliest).
“There are member states who would like to see…a single set of forces. That looks and sounds to me like a European Army, and we would oppose that,” said Fallon. “Europe is littered with HQs, what we don’t need is another one.”
But the EU already has the framework – provided by the Lisbon Treaty – for the formation of two defense union organizations, and EU bureaucrats aim for these institutions to be up and running by 2021.
The document, on which MEPs will soon vote, not only ensures that an EU Army will happen, but proves that the “Remain” campaign lied during the Brexit vote.
“The thin edge of the wedge for integration will be defense research, with more projects taking shape once countries get used to initial forms of military cooperation,” writes Breitbart’s Mike Hookem.
But the plan is clear: the EU wants to station battle groups in Eastern Europe along the Russian border and establish a widespread system to allow EU troops to move throughout the EU “when necessary.”
Sounds like an army to me.
While the EU’s decision-making skills here aren’t great, these military plans represent a big move on the worldwide political chessboard and could bolster the EU’s ability to act – without the US – in response to challenges like Russia.
Britain has feared such plans for years, while France now spies an opportunity to show leadership without London getting in the way.
France and Britain are currently the largest military powers in the EU, and the EU will need post-Brexit Britain as a partner after it officially leaves the union. Britian, on the other hand, needs to be careful to mind its place as an outgoing member.