Should Europe have its own army? With Britain set to invoke Article 50 on 29 March 2017, one of the largest defence spenders in the European Union is about to leave. Almost 25% of EU defence expenditure currently comes from the UK, and Britain has historically obstructed any moves towards a common EU military. With the British and their veto on their way out (and with President Trump openly questioning US commitment to NATO) could it finally be time to move ahead on security and defence integration?
What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Heinrich on our ‘Suggest a Debate’ page, who believes that one day the European Union will have a common army which, possibly, could act as a counterweight to US military might internationally. Is he right? Or is he ignoring political reality?
Is it time for a European army? We asked Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from all sides of the political spectrum to stake out their positions on this question, and it’s up to YOU to vote for the policies you favour. See what the different MEPs have to say, then vote at the bottom of this debate for the one you most agree with! Take part in the vote below and tell us who you support in the European Parliament!
We reject any further militarisation of the European Union and believe that the European Union should be a purely civilian union and not a military union. Therefore, this question is superfluous in the context of our basic program. At the same time, however, I would like to say that, even if one supported this idea, which I do not, it is not constitutionally possible at all in my view. For a European army we would also need a European federal state, with corresponding parliamentary powers which the European Parliament does not have at all.
We don’t believe it’s a good idea to have a common army. We think that we have, for example, the battlegroups that we can send out in peacekeeping missions; they have never been used so far, even though they cost a lot. That could be a first step towards working more together. It’s good to coordinate the different armies we have in Europe, but we should not have a common European army.
It wouldn’t be a problem, in technical terms, to establish military units or a so-called ‘European army’. The political question is how and when, or for what purpose this army will be used. We are again speaking about the problems of political unity. We have to agree who is our enemy and where we should engage our army. And I remember how it was when Slovenia was attacked 25 years ago. At that time, there was no European Common Foreign and Security Policy. And I would say we still have problems with that because different Member States have different opinions of the main challenges.
IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – European External Action Service
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