Germany and France have outlined plans to deepen European military cooperation after Britain’s exit from the European Union, a document obtained by Reuters show.
In potentially the biggest leap in European defence since the 1990s, Berlin and Paris are laying out ways for the bloc to rapidly deploy forces, with security cooperation emerging as a unifying force for Europe after Britain’s shock vote to leave.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is set to add to the momentum in his annual State of the Union address on Wednesday by calling for an end to the isolated way in which EU militaries work. EU leaders will discuss defence cooperation at a summit without Britain on Friday in the Slovak capital Bratislava and could take decisions at the end of this year.
In a policy document seen by Reuters, Germany and France, the EU’s two remaining military powers, have made a detailed list of proposals, including a joint and permanent EU command headquarters for its civilian and military missions.
Such a move falls well short of a European army, but would mark a step in the EU’s ambitions in areas from disaster relief to peace-keeping. It could help revive the EU battle groups that have been operational since 2007 but have never been used.
Berlin and Paris said they also sought a strengthening of the Eurocorps, a joint military group of some EU and NATO states, allowing it to play a bigger role in EU operations.
The decision to relaunch closer military cooperation, which was first tried by Britain and France in 1998, goes beyond Britain’s decision to leave the EU, diplomats say. No European nation has the resources alone to confront failing states on Europe’s borders, Islamist militants or a resurgent Russia.
The joint paper floats the idea of setting up the EU’s own medical resources, joint land, air and sea transport capabilities to complement the bloc’s missions and enhancing common training among officers across the 27 states.
France and Germany, as well as senior EU defence officials, are also keen to work with the U.S-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), which counts 22 of the EU’s 28 members. “We … recognise that a stronger and more capable European defence will also lead to a stronger NATO,” the document read. (full article & document in Reuters)
PS EU members cannot agree on a common migration policy and its implementation (i.e. deploy judges, asylum personnel) and will agree on deployment of armed forces? In EU’s plans for an “EU Army” I see nothing more than another opportunity for Brussels to occupy thousands of personnel and spend millions of euros just to the sake of drafting such plans.
They have agreed in principle on a militarized EU Border Force, whose operation will not require the permission of the national government of any EU country concerned. We’ll see how that works out too — most likely a bitter and dismal (not to say expensive) failure.