Can the EU raise its profile with an army?

Within the space of a few days both Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel have spoken out in favour of a European army. Macron wants independence from the US. Merkel talked of sending a signal that there will never be another war between European countries. A look at the press shows what kind of response the initiative is eliciting in other countries.

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Ria Novosti (RU) /

Moscow delighted about weak competitors

Ria Novosti discusses why Moscow welcomes the idea of a European army:

“The calm with which Moscow, as the capital of a current superpower, is observing this ambition is not surprising. It's too obvious that the presumed locomotives behind the European superpower have very different ideas about how this army should look. If France perhaps wants to be able to flex its muscles in a bigger arena, Germany wants above all to give the EU security and stability. And this indicates that the 'joint European army', once it's up and running, will be hardly any more capable of action than Nato. It will, however, be less dependent on Washington - and for that reason alone we should not reject the prospect of its creation.”

Financial Times (GB) /

No Western alliance without a Soviet threat

The alliance between Europe and the US is an anachronism in any event, the Financial Times argues:

“What gave rise to 'the West' in its modern usage was a Soviet menace that has no modern equivalent, yet. Even if we date the alliance back to 1917, when the US entered the first world war, it accounts for a minority of American history and a sliver of European history. If Nato and other items of cold war architecture now lapse into a kind of benign disrepair, it is not all the work of Mr Trump. The wonder is that they held as well as they did between 1989 and now.”

Artı Gerçek (TR) /

Not much left of the peace project

Instead of encouraging visions of peaceful coexistence the EU's leaders are pinning their hopes on military projects, comments Artı Gerçek:

“It was Macron, the young politician the neo-liberals have pinned their hopes on, who announced the message marking the 100th anniversary of the Armistice: a European army. The idea is not new. It is one of the topics most frequently discussed by the European Union in recent years. Steps in this direction have long since been taken. ... For a long time now the EU army has been taking measures against migrants, who are seen as Europe's greatest enemies. Yet the European Union was once a project for peace, even if in recent years there have been attempts to make people forget this. ... But now [Europe's] leading politicians are trying once more to capitalise on a war. ... While they celebrate the end of the war they promise death for billions.”

Stuttgarter Nachrichten (DE) /

Violation of national sovereignty

Christoph Reisinger, editor-in-chief of the Stuttgarter Nachrichten, takes a dim view of Macron's proposal:

“The fact is that a European army would above all mean one thing: the violation of national sovereignty where it counts most: when war and peace are at stake. ... Ultimately a 'true European army' means that an EU institution will have the say on where and how troops are deployed. As far as the division of labour is concerned, at the very least that means that if Germany supplies parachutists, for example, they must be at the disposal of all other states participating in the joint army. And naturally also for missions whose purpose hardly anyone in Germany understands or agrees with. And that's supposed to be the ideal solution?”

Ria Novosti (RU) /

Trump would be left empty-handed

Ria Novosti recalls that the US president has long been demanding that the Europeans raise their defence budgets:

“With his declaration on a European army that acts independently of the US on principle and even protects Europe against the US, Macron is on the one hand showing the willingness to spend money on improving Europe's security (and thus depriving Trump of his main line of argument). On the other hand he insists that these funds must stay in the EU and not end up in the Pentagon's coffers. In such a scenario Washington lacks any really good options for continuing the discussion. Naturally one could cast the French and Germans as notoriously incompetent in military affairs. But while voters in Alabama might fall for that kind of talk, in the EU it would only strengthen anti-American initiatives.”

The Independent (GB) /

British can't expect protection

In the event that a European army is established Britain is unlikely to benefit, The Independent fears:

“Yet closer military cooperation in the EU is unlikely to involve the UK after Brexit - not that a Conservative government would embrace this if it were on offer anyway. Why would an EU army have an interest in protecting the UK when Brussels has played a hardball game in negotiations on customs, trade and the divorce bill? A reforming EU, of which Macron is a leading player, is trying to discourage other nations from pursuing an exit strategy - so allowing the UK another Brexit opt-in, on military cooperation, is highly unlikely.”