EU leaders push for a joint military

The leaders of Slovakia, Germany, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic at a meeting in Warsaw on August 26, 2016.

by Jacob D. Clark

The leaders of Germany, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic met ahead of the EU summit in order to discuss Brexit. Britain’s exit of the European Union has raised many concerns for the future of Europe, including its security. Lately many Eastern European nations have been pushing the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, to begin discussions over the controversial formation of a joint EU military. Hungary’s right wing prime minister Viktor Orban was quoted at the talks as saying: “We must prioritize security, and let’s start by building a common European army.” These concerns come as many nations realize the rising threat of terror in the region and throughout the world. The leftist Czech Premier Bohuslav Sobotka  perpetuated Orban’s remarks by adding: “…we should also begin a discussion about creating a common European army.” Western European nations are more hesitant but not opposed to move ahead with these actions with concerns it could send the wrong message to the U.S. about NATO’s future.

With Britain’s exit of the EU and Trump raising doubts over the future of NATO, German and French officials have taken a look at moving forward with the plan. Merkel was quoted saying that, “Security is a fundamental issue,” and that Europe, “…can do more together in the areas of security and defense.” The plans could potentially come to be as early as December as EU President Jean-Claude Juncker called for the construction of a new EU headquarters which could later be used as mission control for an EU army. Jean-Claude issued statements reassuring the U.S. and NATO that a joint military in Europe would act “in complement to NATO.” He also added that: “More defense in Europe doesn’t mean less transatlantic solidarity.”

Britain is one of the most vocal opponents to the plan. Shortly before Britain’s exit of the EU, Defense Minister Earl Howe stated: “The Prime Minister has been clear that the UK will never be part of a European Army. We have consistently said that we will oppose any measures which would undermine member states’ competence for their own military forces, or lead to competition and duplication with NATO, which is the cornerstone of our defense.” The plans will not be finalized anytime soon as all 28 nations included in the EU will have to approve first. The future of NATO could depend upon the final decision on this matter but until then Washington will surely be watching closely as plans for the joint EU army progress.