Does the EU need an army of its own?

If the European army is actually created, what will Russia's reaction be?

If the European army is actually created, what will Russia's reaction be?

Separate from NATO, does the European Union need an army? What stands in the way of building such a European army? Will it be able to deal with new challenges in the region?

The European Union has again become preoccupied with the idea of building an army of its own. This issue was raised by Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, in his annual state of the union address to the European Parliament.

He felt one of the ways of addressing the problem of European security after ‘Brexit’ is a deep integration between the armed forces of member countries. The idea to build such a European army was also supported by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and several other ‘Old World’ political figures.

Why Europe needs its own army

References either to Russia’s “unpredictability and aggressiveness” or to the real terrorist threat cannot be applied there. For the "containment of Russia," there is the North Atlantic Alliance (NATO) which, however, is powerless in the face of terrorist attacks in Europe.

The proposed army also cannot be a panacea for the “terrorist disease.” The fight against terrorists does not need more troops, but extensive and professional law enforcement agencies, a wide network of agents and other anti-terrorist structures. These cannot be in a regular army with rockets, tanks, bombers and fighters – one does not fight against terrorists with heavy armour and military equipment.

Is NATO really not enough for Europe, even if the alliance includes the majority of European countries, and has the clause in paragraph 5 of the Washington Treaty, which can be expressed in the catchphrase "One for all, and all for one"?

Is the security umbrella spread over the European Union by one of the most powerful armies in the world, with the world's largest stockpile of nuclear missiles – the US – too small?

Perhaps it is Washington's interference in the affairs of the Europeans, its messianic and intrusive impact on the policies of the EU, which often result in losses to the EU economy (like the sanctions against Russia, imposed by the US), and drawing the EU into unnecessary and unprofitable wars (Libya, Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan) that was an underlying and unspoken reason for the emergence of the idea of "separate European armed forces"?

Components of the new army

Europe cannot afford two parallel armies for several reasons.

Firstly, a number of states are not in a hurry to allocate 2 percent of their GDP to NATO’s overall defence budget, which depends mainly on Washington paying 75 per cent of the total. At the same time, the US understands the hidden and long-lasting meaning of political ideas expressed by Juncker – i.e. to minimize Europe's dependence on the White House's military decisions.

Secondly, there are not enough human resources for the new army. They can hardly enlist refugees from the Islamic Middle East and North Africa in these forces.

French President Hollande suggested the creation of a European army within and based on NATO. According to him, the European armed forces must have a certain autonomy. But in the army, which is based on unity of command and unquestioning obedience to the commander or boss there cannot, in principle, be any independent structures. Otherwise, it is not an army, but a bad farm. Any disobedience in the army is punished by the tribunal.

In addition, the North Atlantic Alliance would hardly like a parallel and autonomous army. It has no army at all, actually, but there are commands in the theatre of war: the central, southern and northern commands.

Special formations are created for specific combat missions, to which each member country allocates units from its national armed forces. Some provide tank crews, some allocate missile personnel, some supply motorized infantry, signalers, repairers, rear troops, nurses and so on. It is unclear on what principle an integrated European army should be created.

It would more likely appear that talk about a European army and its joint headquarters is another attempt to set up a new bureaucratic structure for European officials to comfortably exist, producing paperwork and public declarations, just as it is done in the EU and PACE.

However, if the European army is actually created, what will Russia's reaction be?

The Russians will work with it as they do with NATO. The hope can be that the relationship will start with a clean slate and become friendly.

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