The European War Union (II)

BERLIN |

BERLIN (Own report) - The EU will significantly increase the number of its military interventions. This was one the results of the EU heads of state and government summit meeting, held yesterday in Brussels. The member countries will also intensify cooperation of their armed forces. This coincides with demands repeatedly put forward by the German government during its campaign, launched last summer to promote the militarization of the EU. Recently, after the EU defense ministers, along with other bodies, including the European Parliament, passed several resolutions, the EU Commission published a "Defense Action Plan," which provides for annual expenditures from a "European Defense Fund" of half a billion Euros for weapons research, beginning in the early 2020s. Most recently, the European Parliament called for the EU to upgrade its military to be able to use "its full potential as a world power." The objective, according Hans-Peter Bartels (SPD), Parliamentary Commissioner for the German Armed Forces, is to establish an EU army.

Claim to Global Policy Making

The EU's heads of states and governments' decision yesterday raised the past few months of campaign for the further militarization of the EU to new heights. It began last summer with Berlin's initiatives,[1] which first resulted in a catalogue of demands jointly formulated by the foreign ministers of Germany and France. The EU needs a common "security agenda" to enable it to execute its political "policy making," - not just in its "immediate neighborhood" but "worldwide" - was one of their demands.[2] This was followed, among other things, by another joint catalogue of demands, formulated this time by the defense ministers of Germany and France, advocating a "European strategic autonomy,"[3] which was followed, September 16, by an informal EU summit resolution explicitly envisaging closer military cooperation among individual EU member countries. The campaign continued with the EU defense ministers reaffirming the decision to promote the establishment of joint European forces, on November 14.[4] A resolution on the establishment of a European Defense Union was subsequently adopted by the European Parliament November 22.[5]

The European Defense Fund

On November 30, the European Commission also published a "European Defense Action Plan," which includes the creation of a European Defense Fund, which should allocate around 90 million Euros annually for weapons research within the EU, until 2020. Thereafter, the allocations should be increased to a half-billion Euros. According to the EU's armaments action plan, even though EU countries, when added together, rank "second in the world's military spending," the EU, nevertheless, continues to lag behind the US and is also suffering from "inefficient use of its resources, due to a duplication of structures, lack of interoperability and technological gaps." "Without sustainable investment" in weapons research and the arms industry, the EU's arms manufacturers risk "missing the boat on the necessary technological expertise needed for the next generation of decisive defense capabilities," continues the EU Commission's Action Plan. This would place "the union's strategic autonomy" in jeopardy.[6]

World Power, Super Power

Wednesday, the European Parliament followed up with another resolution pleading for the EU's resolute militarization, in which the parliament "deeply regrets" the limited budget of around 320 million Euros (0,2 % of the EU budget),"[7] for the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy. The parliamentarians highlight the EU's alleged "immense potential as a diplomatic superpower," while urging the union to "strengthen its security and defence capabilities," because it can "only use its full potential as a global power if it combines its unrivalled soft power with hard power," Therefore the parliament calls on "the Member States to increase their defence expenditure" - to meet the NATO capacity goals of two percent of GDP. In addition "the EU’s rapid reaction tools" must be enhanced, "notably by further improving the usability of battle groups, ... and by strengthening and making greater use of Eurocorps" for EU missions. Moreover, the common financing of combat missions must be allowed from the EU's collective funds. Ultimately, "the creation of a permanent civilian and military headquarters" must be achieved, "with a Military Planning and Conduct Capability" and a "Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability ... to enhance civil-military cooperation and improve the EU’s ability to react speedily to crises."

A Clear Impulse

Based on the militarization campaign of the preceding months - culminating in European Parliaments resolutions, such as that from last Wednesday - the EU heads of states and governments reiterated, yesterday, their will to militarize the EU and strengthen its military cooperation. We will continue to "cooperate more in the future - continually and structurally" in "defense and external security," according to the German government, following the summit meeting. There will also be "more joint civilian missions," as well as more "military operations." The summit gave "a clear impulse" in this regard.[8] The EU Commission's "European Defense Action Plan," has also been explicitly confirmed.

Train as You Fight

The official creation of an EU army, which cannot be realized until Great Britain has left the EU, remains the long-term objective. "Every mission, in which Bundeswehr soldiers are currently involved" is "multinational," according to the Bundestag's Commissioner for the Armed Forces, Hans-Peter Bartels (SPD). "We must work with the partners in the alliance."[9] Bartels claims, "it may be helpful, if we would adopt the principle, 'train as you fight'" - in other words, if the armed forces, in peace time, would be "organized ... as they later would be in combat." That is why "a European army ... the vision ... is the long term objective," explains the social democratic politician. All future steps of the "Europeanization and integration" of the armed forces in the EU should "be compatible with this objective." The German-Dutch military cooperation could serve as an example. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[10]) Bartels also names the benchmark for assessing the EU's military cooperation: "We have 1.5 million soldiers in Europe, which is more than the USA." The reason why the EU is still lagging behind the USA is the "European small state patchwork mentality."

See also Make Europe Great Again and Shock as Opportunity.

[1] See Auf Weltmachtniveau.
[2] See The European War Union.
[3] See Strategische Autonomie.
[4] See Superpower Europe.
[5] See Shock as Opportunity.
[6] Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee or the Regions: European Defence Action Plan. COM(2016) 950 final. Brussels, 30.11.2016.
[7] European Parliament resolution of 14 December 2016 on the implementation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (2016/2036(INI)).
[8] Verteidigung soll europäischer werden. www.bundesregierung.de 15.12.2016.
[9] Vision der Einigung: Die EU-Armee. www.heute.de 11.12.2016.
[10] See Under German Command, The German Path to an EU Army (III) and Der deutsche Weg zur EU-Armee (V).