Does the European Union Need a Common Military Force?

By Glascock, J Walker | The Christian Science Monitor, September 14, 2016 | Go to article overview

Does the European Union Need a Common Military Force?


Glascock, J Walker, The Christian Science Monitor


Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Union Commission President called for greater defense cooperation between countries and the establishment of a joint-command headquarters for EU military missions.

"We must have a European headquarters and so we should work towards a common military force," Mr. Juncker told the European Parliament, as a part of his annual state of the union address. He stressed that he was not proposing a EU army, but rather the creation of a centralized location from which operations can be based.

His proposal is a further example of the ways in which the EU is looking to reshape itself after "Brexit," the June vote in the United Kingdom to exit the EU. Juncker and many of the EU nations feel the current and pressing need for raised defense co-operation - something the UK had always been opposed to out of concerns it would create conflict with the already existing NATO alliance, which is headquartered in Belgium.

"This should be to complement NATO," Juncker said, as the US has also been concerned about what effect a EU military headquarters would have on the existing system. "More defence in Europe doesn't mean less transatlantic solidarity," he continued before going on to outline the need for a European Defense Fund, which would stimulate military research and development.

Following recent attacks across Europe, including those in Paris, Nice, and Brussels in the past year, EU leaders identify security as one of their primary concerns in the immediate future. And the Brexit negotiations may only further complicate the situation as remaining nations must compensate for the loss of the EU's highest- spending military power, which could easily reduce their overall defense capacity by 25 percent if new proposals aren't implemented.

At present, EU military cooperation is already convoluted due to the varied nature of a multi-national alliance. Current defense contracts are granted individually to each nation's internal industries, creating a situation where 19 different types of armored infantry fighting vehicles exist within the European Union, as opposed to one within the United States, according to information gathered by Reuters. …

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