Monday

21st Jun 2021

MEPs: EU needs defence force 'under Union command'

  • The largest group in the EU parliament wants the Union to have its own military force (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

Europe should create a civilian and military crisis operations HQ under EU command, according to a report by centre-right MEPs.

The proposal, contained in a policy paper published on Tuesday (3 September), by deputies from the European People’s Party, the largest group in the assembly, said EU "heads of state and government have to start building stand-by forces under Union command."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

It called for EU leaders to commit themselves to defining the union’s security interests, prioritising its strategic objectives and linking these with operational deployments.

They said this should include a definition of European defence interests and its geographical priority zones.

Launching the paper, deputies Michael Gahler, Arnaud Danjean and Krzysztof Lisek, all members of the Eparliament's security and defence sub-committee, noted that "deepening the EU's security and defence co-operation will help slash procurement costs and allow the EU to react faster to international crises."

Leaders will debate the idea of EU-level military integration at a summit in December.

For the time being, defence and security policy remains exclusively in the hands of national governments, many of which are reluctant to increase the EU's role in the field.

Last month, a French Senate paper outlined ideas to abandon plans for a Europe-wide defence system in favour of creating a so-called "Eurogroup" force which would work outside the influence of EU institutions.

The force would see four European generals in charge of co-operating on military operations.

Meanwhile, a report by the European Commission in July warned that the bloc's military strength was diluted by overlapping capacities and defence procurement at national level.

In a nod to this, the MEPs described it as an "unacceptable situation to have 10 different versions of one European attack helicopter or to have six different versions of one European military transport aircraft."

The commission's "ideas paper," also designed to feed into the summit talks, called on member states to review national defence capabilities and to identify what is hardware is needed for the protection of EU countries' interests.

Between them, EU governments spent €194 billion on defence in 2011, down from €251 billion in 2001.

Defence R&D spending also fell by 14 percent between 2005 and 2010, to €9 billion.

In contrast, the US spends seven times more on research and development than the EU's 28 member states put together, while Russia and China are expected to double their defence spending by 2015 when compared to 2011.

EU to wage economic war on Belarus dictator

EU foreign relations chief Josep Borrell will announce sweeping economic sanctions on Belarus at Monday's foreign affairs meeting after Austria caved to pressure.

Agenda

EU leaders discuss Turkey, Russia, migration This WEEK

EU foreign affairs ministers will try to sort out a new round of sanctions on Belarus, and EU affairs ministers will hold intergovernmental conferences with two candidate countries, Serbia and Montenegro.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Too soon to lift EU sanctions on Burundi, NGOs warn
  2. EU to wage economic war on Belarus dictator
  3. EU commission takes stand against Danish asylum law
  4. Air pollution in many EU cities 'stubbornly high'
  5. EU leaders discuss Turkey, Russia, migration This WEEK
  6. Pandemic exposed corruption in some EU health systems
  7. The European Court of Justice vs German Constitutional Court
  8. AstraZeneca must deliver 50m doses by September or face fines

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us