The Hegemon's Army

BERLIN |

BERLIN (Own report) - Immediately following the Irish "Yes" to the Lisbon Treaty, German government advisors were pleading for further steps for the EU's militarization. In Berlin it is being suggested that if it is possible to get Czech President Václav Klaus to quickly sign the treaty, the regulations for the arms build-up could soon take effect. Even the EU Foreign Minister, provided for in the document, with his European Foreign Service, would "strengthen the capability for common action in foreign affairs" says the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). But significant improvements in the EU's military firepower can only be achieved through "sharing of military duties and specialization." In the past, European states have been insufficiently willing to take this step. The individual EU member states should proceed with the amalgamation of their national armies and surrender their autonomy as demanded by the SWP. Concerning the strategic planning, Berlin's advisors write: "the most economically sound would be the creation of a European army."

Arms Build-up

Berlin's most recent initiative to advance the militarization of the EU began immediately following the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. Last Friday's majority "Yes" vote seems to have cleared the way for putting the treaty into effect. Only Czech President Václav Klaus is in a position to thwart this project, if he succeeds in postponing his signature until after British elections next spring. The next British prime minister, most likely a conservative, could hold a referendum - probably with a majority "No" result. Berlin and Brussels find this an unlikely prospect. German media have, as a precaution, already announced that Prague's mandate as EU Commissioner could be withdrawn, but other means of pressure against Czechia could also be used.[1] If the treaty comes into force, especially the arms build-up directives will become effective. In the document it says that "the member states pledge to gradually enhance their military capability." Detailed measures are given.[2]

Battle Groups

The Lisbon Treaty points in the right direction, writes the German Institute for International and Security Policy (SWP) in Berlin. The SWP recalls that in the '90s, the attempt to create a common European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) was met with strong resistance. Ireland, for example "saw the danger that this could be a first step toward the creation of a European army."[3] The German government advisors explain that "such an idea is even today categorically rejected in Ireland", which is why it has always been emphasized "that the ESDP process is not aimed at the creation of a European army." The ESDP was finally officially established at the June 1999 EU Summit Meeting in Cologne. Since then, European military policy has made enormous progress. The SWP recalls the creation of battle groups, the European Defense Agency as well as the EU military intervention in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Chad.

Deficit

Since the Irish "Yes," Berlin is now pushing to decisively advance the EU's militarization. According to the SWP there are significant "deficits" in the facilities of the European armed forces. The air transport, for example, must be significantly upgraded. The SWP finds that "a more effective and above all, more economical use of means" could be achieved particularly "through a sharing of military duties and specialization." That these "options are only rarely applied" is due "above all, to the insistence on the maximal national sovereignty and independence of decision." The majority of EU states want "to maintain as much of the own armed forces and national command structure as possible," says the SWP study. "Therefore each EU state - or at least each one that can afford to - buys numerous fighter jets."[4] The goal is "to have the permanent capability of protecting against violations of the national airspace (air policing)."

Savings

Precisely this is what the Berlin government's advisors do not want. For example, the difficulties of air transport - which during the EU's intervention in Chad led to aggravated problems - could be easily overcome, "if at least the member nations with a smaller territory would coordinate a common air policing with their larger neighbors."[5] Enough transport helicopters could be paid for "with the money that could be saved on interceptors", writes SWP. This suggestion is aimed at placing, for example, the airspace of Austria or the Czech Republic under the surveillance of the German Luftwaffe. Vienna and Prague would have to submit to serious cutbacks in their sovereignty - for the purpose of procuring, for example, the necessary transport equipment to satisfy Germany's or some other key EU power's intervention needs.

Take Over

As a first step, SWP is demanding that those states "prepared to do so" proceed with their "military integration." This would permit "the German naval command and the German Baltic naval bases to take over functions for other nations as well." In the long run, the SWP is clearly pleading for the creation of an EU army, though this "term is controversial for the majority of the EU states," because they are not prepared to give up their national independence in a very key sector. But in the long run, the EU army is indispensable. Berlin's government advisors judge that "to continue to maintain 27 national armed forces represents a definite waste of the limited financial resources."[6] The one to benefit most from the amalgamation of the national armed forces into an EU army would be the state that wields the most influence inside the EU. According to the Lisbon Treaty's rules of voting, just accepted by Ireland, it would be the country already economically and politically predominating in Europe - Germany.

[1] Nach dem Ja der Iren Druck auf Prag und Warschau; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 05.10.2009
[2] Vertrag von Lissabon zur Änderung des Vertrags über die Europäische Union und des Vertrags zur Gründung der Europäischen Gemeinschaft, unterzeichnet in Lissabon am 13. Dezember 2007
[3], [4], [5], [6] Volker Heise: Zehn Jahre Europäische Sicherheits- und Verteidigungspolitik. Entwicklung, Stand und Probleme; SWP-Studie S 25, Oktober 2009