Coalition of Those Willing to Go to War (II)

PARIS/BERLIN (Own report) - The European Intervention Initiative (Initiative européenne d'intervention, IEI) initiated by Paris and supported by Berlin, will begin work this week. Representatives of the ten participating states took this decision in the French capital, yesterday. France's President Emmanuel Macron promoted the IEI, aimed at rapid deployment capability, in search of gaining support for his country's over-stretched armed forces. So far, Berlin has been applying the brakes. The German government is focused on systematically merging European troops, for example, within the framework of the EU's "PESCO" projects and integrating European arms industries with the help of subsidies from the EU Defense Fund. In the future EU budget, the EU Defense Fund is to be increased thirty-fold, to more than €17 billion. Despite all the dissention, Berlin (with PESCO) and Paris (with IEI) are both seeking to establish a European armed forces, which can be deployed on a global scale, independent of the USA.


In the ongoing Franco-German dispute over the long-term establishment of an integrated European armed forces, Berlin is still prioritizing PESCO (Permanent Structured Cooperation), which formally began working on December 11, 2017,[1] and seeks to enhance the coordination and development of the EU countries' military capacities. It includes 25 of the 28 EU member countries. Great Britain, Denmark, and Malta are not participating: Great Britain, because it is leaving the EU, Denmark, because it has an opt-out clause from EU military policy, following the Danish population's "NO" to the Maastricht Treaty, and Malta because it wants to maintain its neutrality. Thus far, 17 projects have been determined in the PESCO framework, with more soon to follow. Berlin is coordinating four: the establishment of the European Medical Command, the Network of Logistic Hubs, the EU Training Mission Competence Center and the EUFOR Crisis Response Operation Core.[2]

Building Armed Forces from Below

With PESCO, the German government is seeking to strengthen the integration of EU countries' armed forces to build, quasi from below, a long-term base for jointly waging wars. Aimed at better integration of the EU countries' arms industries, Brussels has established the EU Defense Fund, due to be significantly increased. In the current EU budget period (2014 - 2020), €575 million have been allocated; which is to be increased thirty-fold to €17.22 billion in the following (2021 - 2027) budget period.[3] According to current planning, the funds may be allocated without European parliamentary monitoring.[4] In addition to its activities within the EU framework, Berlin is pushing for closer cooperation with the armed forces of selected European NATO allies. It is intensifying cooperation not only with the Dutch army and navy and with Czech and Rumanian army brigades, but also with the navy of Norway, which is a member of NATO but not of the EU. In NATO's Framework Nations Concept (FNC), the Bundeswehr's medical corps is establishing the Multinational Medical Coordination Centre (MMCC). Since troops from non-EU countries, such as Norway, are also linked to EU member's armed forces via the FNC, it is not unusual to hear of the establishment of a "European" rather than an "EU" army.


Paris sets other priorities. According to an analysis published last June by the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), the French military is drastically "over-stretched" and France's government is desperately searching for support in its current and future missions.[5] For example, Paris is trying - with Berlin's help - to involve troops from the Sahel countries ("G5 Sahel") in its "Operation Barkhane." ( reported.[6]) Brussels has hardly contributed. The DGAP concluded, "EU structures" have "proven of little help, when it comes to rapid interventions." Therefore, the French government is now seeking help - through its European Intervention Initiative (Initiative européenne d'intervention, IEI), announced by President Macron in his keynote speech at the Sorbonne on September 26, 2017. Officially, the IEI was founded June 25, 2018. Nine countries are participating. It is referred to as a "coalition of the willing."[7] Because the IEI is not a component of the EU's military policy, both Denmark - which is under an opt out clause for the EU's Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) - can participate and post-Brexit Great Britain can remain a member. IEI is also an independent structure and must not rely on the Union*s, at times, extremely lengthy decision-making processes.

Building Armed Forces in Action

In the run-up to yesterday's IEI meeting, Paris and Berlin again went public with their dissentions. Already at the founding of the initiative, the German government had seen to it that Macron would only be partially able to accomplish what he had set out to achieve. For example, the IEI has, until now, been limited to the regular coordination of the participating national staffs at the military command level, whereas the initial objective was to develop joint situation analyses and intervention plans. France, which, in fact, had sought to create a stronger structure, promotes the founding of IEI as progress in the creation of a joint "strategic culture."[8] On Tuesday, Macron demanded that "a real European army" be created. The move was aimed at winning wider competence for the IEI, which he fashionably justified saying that "Europe" must be prepared "to handle its own defense, in complete independence of the USA."[9] Chancellor Angela Merkel and other German politicians also gave their opinions.[10] Germany's Minister of Defense, Ursula von der Leyen immediately contradicted Macron, Tuesday, making it clear that the German government continues to rely on PESCO, rather than Paris' IEI. "A European army must be set up within and not outside the European Union," von der Leyen said in Berlin.[11]

Situation Analyses and Operation Scenarios

At yesterday's meeting of representatives of the IEI participating countries, a preliminary "timetable" was established for the merger, to which Finland will now become the tenth member. According to reports, leading representatives of the IEI armed forces plan to begin this week to establish situation analyses and possible operation scenarios, that will form the basis of future missions. These are activities that are neither carried out in NATO nor within the realm of the EU, announced France's Minister of Defense, Florence Parly.[12] There are openings for other countries wanting to participate. There is but one stipulation - the capability and the willingness to engage in missions.


[1] See also Launching the Military Union.

[2] Jörg Fleischer: PESCO: Schritt in die richtige Richtung. 30.05.2018.

[3] Eva Fischer: Haushaltsausschuss des Europaparlaments will 190 Milliarden mehr von EU-Mitgliedstaaten. 06.11.2018.

[4] Christoph Prössl: 13 Milliarden Euro am Parlament vorbei. 20.09.2018.

[5] Claudia Major, Christian Mölling: Die Europäische Interventionsinitiative EI2. Warum mitmachen für Deutschland die richtige Entscheidung ist. DGAPkompakt Nr. 10, Juni 2018.

[6] See also Die Militarisierung des Sahel (IV).

[7] An der Europäischen Interventionsinitiative nehmen Belgien, Dänemark, Deutschland, Estland, Frankreich, Großbritannien, die Niederlande, Portugal und Spanien teil.

[8] See also Coalition of Those Willing to Go to War.

[9] Nicolas Berrod: A quoi pourrait ressembler l'armée européenne voulue par Emmanuel Macron? 06.11.2018.

[10] See also Das Ende einer Ära.

[11] Macron fordert eine gemeinsame europäische Armee. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 07.11.2018.

[12] L'avant-garde de la défense européenne entre en rodage. 07.11.2018.