EU Army Gets Real

It was just a few months ago that Britain’s EU referendum campaign was in full swing, and supporters of European integration were dismissing warnings of an EU army as a “dangerous fantasy.” It turns out that, like a lot of Brussels’ wilder ideas, it was very real after all. Last week, the EU Commission’s unelected president, Jean-Claude Juncker, publicly called for an EU defense budget, a permanent headquarters structure and “common military assets.”

While the idea of an EU army has always been political suicide in Britain, some of the organization’s continental members find it quite attractive – it would let them cut their defense spending on the pretext of eliminating duplication. The reality is that anything the EU does ends up costing far more, and delivering far less, than could have been achieved by national governments, but politicians tend to think in the short term. As long as they can divert more money to their pet projects today, they’re not too worried about how the brave new EU army will perform tomorrow.

eu-mapThe danger is that this new push towards defense unification is a real threat to NATO. Juncker – who says “when it becomes serious you have to lie” and believes EU policy is best decided “in secret, dark debates” – claims that his planned military force would work “in full complementarity” with NATO. Is that the truth`? Almost certainly not. The EU’s endless drive to grab ever more power means that if it was asked to contribute its “common military assets” to a NATO mission it would probably insist on an EU headquarters having control over them. As NATO already has its own, well established, command structure this would just add another layer of staff officers, and that rarely makes things happen more efficiently.

There’s another big problem too. While there’s a lot of overlap between NATO and EU membership, it isn’t exactly total. Three EU states are not NATO members and stick firmly to traditional positions of neutrality; that’s Sweden, Ireland and Austria. What happens when NATO needs EU “common military assets” but those countries don’t agree with the mission? They’ll have a stake in the assets; at a minimum, they’ll be paying a share of the costs, and they could have personnel in the units. Right now that isn’t an issue. If NATO needs German assets, and Germany’s fine with that, the assets chop to NATO command. As manpower and equipment are transferred from national to EU control, it’s going to get more complicated and less reliable.

So whatever impressive promises come out of Brussels, the EU’s drive to unify member state’s militaries is a danger to the security of the west. Less money will be invested, staffs will multiply unnecessarily and forces will be less deployable. If Juncker isn’t stopped, the “European pillar” of NATO will wither away to almost nothing. In future, when the USA is looking for allies, it’s increasingly going to have to depend on informal coalitions of (mostly Anglosphere) countries. Europe has systematically stripped away its own defenses against terrorism, and now it seems hell-bent on trashing its conventional military power too.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Fergus Mason

Fergus Mason

Fergus Mason grew up in the west of Scotland. After attending university he spent 14 years in the British Army and served in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Kosovo and Iraq. Afterwards, he went to Afghanistan as a contractor, where he worked in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif and Camp Leatherneck. He now writes on a variety of topics including current affairs and military matters.
Fergus Mason

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