Commission President calls for European army
Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, has called for an EU army in order "to improve the bloc's standing on the world stage, and to send a message to Moscow."
"An army like this would help us to better coordinate our foreign and defense policies, and to collectively take on Europe's responsibilities in the world," Juncker told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag. "Europe's image has suffered dramatically and also in terms of foreign policy, we don't seem to be taken entirely seriously."
A Deutsche Welle article on Juncker's comments notes that the UK "might be a prime candidate to resist such a strategic integration of military and defensive assets."
A UK government spokesman confirmed their "prime candidate" status by telling The Guardian: "Our position is crystal clear that defence is a national not an EU responsibility and that there is no prospect of that position changing and no prospect of a European army."
Nevertheless, the EU's role in military affairs is growing. A military research programme is being developed, with the aim of a specific military research budget being included in the EU's 2021-27 "Multiannual Financial Framework". This programme is based on conclusions on defence cooperation agreed by the European Council in December 2013.
A recent European Parliament resolution on the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy calls for greater European defence integration. It calls on the June 2015 European Council to take "ambitious decisions", including (emphasis added):
- "setting out the required capabilities and options for deepening defence cooperation in order to be able to better respond to the threats facing the countries of the EU";
- "strengthening the European Defence Agency... so that it can play its full role in coordinating and stimulating armaments cooperation";
- "prevent financial considerations from compromising the EU's ability to respond to crises";
- "strengthening the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base, inter alia by coordinating defence budgets, harmonising requirements, reducing inefficiencies and creating synergies";
- "addressing existing problems in the area of the planning and conduct of military operations, including by establishing a permanent military operational headquarters"; and
- "increasing the EU Battlegroups' effectiveness... and deploying the Battlegroups in future crisis management scenarios wherever appropriate".
- 'Juncker calls for collective EU army', Deutsche Welle, 8 March 2015
- 'Jean-Claude Juncker calls for EU army', The Guardian, 8 March 2015
- 'Commission proposes military research programme', Statewatch News Online, August 2014
- European Council, 'Conclusions', 19 December 2013
- European Parliament, 'REPORT on the Annual Report from the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to the European Parliament', 3 March 2015
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