Tuesday

11th Dec 2018

Germany speaks out in favour of European army

  • Westerwelle: "The long term goal is the establishment of a European army" (Photo: Kai Moerk, Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz 2010)

German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle has said Berlin supports the long term goal of creating a European army, which will bolster the EU's role as a global player.

Speaking on Saturday (6 February) at the Munich Security Conference, an annual gathering for high-level discussions on security and defence, Mr Westerwelle said the EU's new institutional rules, the Lisbon Treaty, are "not the end but, rather, the beginning for common security and defence policy."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"The long term goal is the establishment of a European army under full parliamentary control," he said, noting that the German government "wants to advance along this path."

Mr Westerwelle, who is just a few months into the job as Germany's top diplomat as part of a ruling Christian Democrat and liberal coalition, suggested that moving further on common security and defence will be the "motor for greater European integration."

With a nod to Nato, the military alliance which competes with the EU in terms of overlapping members and available resources, he said: "This is not intended to replace other security structures. More Europe is not a strategy directed against anyone. No one has any reason to fear Europe, but everyone should be able to depend on Europe."

Under EU rules, member states with certain military capacities and the political will to move in this direction can club together to move forward on common defence.

In recent years, the need for an EU army has often been floated in political discussions - politicians in France, the UK and Poland have also spoken favourably of the idea.

However, until now it is has always come up against a mix of factors, including a lack of political will, a lack of real military power - except in France and the UK - the complexities of having several neutral member states, the overlap with Nato, and a reluctance to put money into defence coffers, this last compounded by the current economic crisis.

Acknowledging the effects of the economic crisis, Mr Westerwelle said member states keen on moving towards creating a common defence policy must "pool resources, set priorities and distribute responsibility - even in times of ever scarcer means."

Within the EU's 27 member states, France and the UK have the greatest defence means. Their co-operation and willingness is seen as essential for any possible development of EU military defence.

In a Strategic Defence Review published last week, Britain called for enhanced military action between itself and France.

"The return of France to Nato's integrated military structures offers an opportunity for even greater co-operation with a key partner across a range of defence activity," said the paper.

Analysts suggest that the pressure on defence budgets caused by the economic downturn may spur further defence sharing among EU member states.

EU aviation agreement with Morocco in legal hot water

The European Commission is struggling to respond to questions on how it can include the disputed territory of the Western Sahara into its aviation agreement with Morocco - following a recent order from the General Court of the European Union.

Anti-semitism 'disturbingly normalised' in Europe

Almost 40 percent of European Jews contemplate leaving their home country because they no longer feel safe, and almost 85 percent say their number one concern in Europe is anti-semitism and racism, according to a new EU survey.

Stakeholder

Help consumers take cruelty away from EU's Xmas buffet

Will commissioners Phil Hogan and Vytenis Andriukaitis help consumers take cruelty away from the EU's Christmas buffet? Some 79 MEPs have asked the EU Commission to delete the requirement of minimum liver weights for foie gras

EU court adds to knife-edge Brexit drama

EU judges have granted the UK the right to unilaterally stop Brexit - amid question marks on whether Tuesday's crunch vote in London will take place.

News in Brief

  1. Lead MEP on Morocco resigns position on trade file
  2. EU gives green light to new human rights sanctions
  3. May pulls vote, seeks to renegotiate Brexit 'backstop'
  4. Report: May cancels Tuesday's Brexit vote in parliament
  5. Belgium left with minority government after UN migration pact row
  6. EU court: UK can unilaterally revoke Article 50
  7. UK remains largest arms producer in western Europe
  8. Macron to address French nation in bid to calm tension

EU aviation agreement with Morocco in legal hot water

The European Commission is struggling to respond to questions on how it can include the disputed territory of the Western Sahara into its aviation agreement with Morocco - following a recent order from the General Court of the European Union.

Opinion

EU foot-dragging puts rule of law at risk in Hungary, Poland

The European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, has yet to be heard on the forced eviction of the Central European University from Budapest to Vienna. Just months before crucial European parliament elections, EU leaders should not shy away from this debate.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. EU aviation agreement with Morocco in legal hot water
  2. Anti-semitism 'disturbingly normalised' in Europe
  3. Help consumers take cruelty away from EU's Xmas buffet
  4. EU court adds to knife-edge Brexit drama
  5. France and Germany back Dutch on human rights sanctions
  6. COP24: vital to keep big polluters away from climate policy
  7. EU foot-dragging puts rule of law at risk in Hungary, Poland
  8. Merkel loyalist AKK wins CDU leadership battle

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us