Juncker triggers debate over EU army

With his proposal to create an EU army Jean-Claude Juncker has kicked off a debate about the Union's security policy. The Commission president called on the weekend for the formation of a joint army in response to threats above all from Russia. Only as a single entity can Europe defend its values, some commentators concur. For others, strengthening Nato would be a more sensible reaction to Moscow's power politics.

Open/close all quotes
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

Strengthening Nato would be more effective

Now is not the time to focus on building up an EU army, the conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung believes: "A joint European army that is supposed to do more than just parade through the continent's capitals on the respective national holidays will not exist as long as there is no joint foreign and security policy worthy of the name. That would require high-level agreement on the part of national decision-makers. ... The EU simply can't afford another baseless collective structure. The order of the day is not to fantasise about the future but to look current dangers in the eye. Europe's security is being menaced by an aggressive Russia that is rearming itself on a massive scale. ... The answer to Moscow's cynical power politics can only lie in the political and military strengthening of Nato."

Irish Examiner (IE) /

Resolute unity the best deterrent

An EU army would be the best guarantee of peace in an increasingly belligerent world, the liberal daily Irish Examiner believes: "We are members of a European-wide community, a community that has been the defining and positive force in Irish life in recent decades. In a world that seems ever more fractious and bellicose, it seems that these questions are unavoidable. They may be academic today, but the old argument that suggests that a coalition of nations is stronger than a series of small, independent states is still true - as is the argument that determined unity is the most effective deterrent to those who would threaten the peace we all enjoy and wish to see prevail."

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Armed forces wouldn't have a leader

The European army that EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker has in mind would show the EU is serious about defending its values, however the idea won't be practicable, the conservative daily Lidové noviny writes: "Who wants to lead this army, who will be its Hegemon? Germany is the economic and political Hegemon of the EU and Eurozone. This Germany may be in a position to talk tough with Putin, but it can't even send a battle standard onto a battlefield abroad without the prior approval of the Bundestag or Federal Constitutional Court. ... Even if the European states changed their stance, got together trillions of euros for joint defence and gave themselves a hard-hitting security doctrine - a military Hegemon is lacking. The EU as an institution can't be it, nor can Germany, and the UK and France don't want to be it. The EU army will therefore be a long-term project. If it's not already a stillbirth."

Eesti Rahvusringhääling (EE) /

Joint army a boon for EU foreign policy

The EU urgently needs a common foreign policy strategy and consequently an EU army, writes journalist Erkki Bahovski on the web portal of the Estonian public broadcaster Eesti Ravusringhääling: "The EU took a look at how its Neighbourhood Policy has developed [at the meeting of foreign ministers in Riga on the weekend] - in the Mediterranean countries and the countries of the Eastern Partnership. ... Better than nothing. The EU super tanker is slowly turning, but the helm still has to be turned further. ... The problem is that the conflicts in the immediate proximity of the EU are bringing us refugees, instability and the constant threat of war. EU Commission President Juncker is planning a joint EU army now. This is certainly a step in the right direction and shows that the tanker can perhaps move more quickly than expected."