Monday

1st May 2017

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."

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"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 boasts unity on Brexit talks

EU leaders adopted the bloc's guidelines for the UK exit negotiations that will start in June, amid concerns that France could elect a president that would try to take it out of the EU.

Column / Brexit Briefing

May’s election juggernaut

The prime minister's Tories almost need not bother campaigning for the June election. There is no opposition worthy of the name.

Investigation

Alte Freundschaft zwischen Le Pen und Putin

Le Pen traf Putin dreimal, nicht einmal, wie berichtet wurde. Aber wieviel Geld bekam ihre Partei und an welche Bedingungen war es geknüpft?

News in Brief

  1. Vote of no confidence prepared against Spanish PM
  2. Syria to buy Russian anti-missile system
  3. Germany seeks partial burka ban
  4. Libya has no plan to stop migration flows
  5. EU has no evidence of NGO-smuggler collusion in Libya
  6. Poland gets 'final warning' on logging in ancient forest
  7. Commission gives Italy final warning on air pollution
  8. Romania and Slovenia taken to court over environment policies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCharlotte Hornets' Nicolas Batum Tells Kids to "Eat Well, Drink Well, Move!"
  2. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey
  3. Counter BalanceParliament Sends Strong Signal to the EIB: Time to Act on Climate Change
  4. ACCARisks and Opportunities of Blockchain and Shared Ledgers Technologies in Financial Services
  5. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  7. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  8. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  9. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  10. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  11. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  12. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process

Latest News

  1. EU boasts unity on Brexit talks
  2. May’s election juggernaut
  3. EPP scolds Orban over university and NGO laws
  4. Oxford-Studie besorgt über 'Schrott' News in Frankreich
  5. Alte Freundschaft zwischen Le Pen und Putin
  6. EP chief faces questions after homophobic 'summit'
  7. EU signals Northern Ireland could join if united with Ireland
  8. One year later: EU right to open internet still virtual