Can’t fault the logic but the outcome is entirely flawed. On the basis that the EU has a problem being taken “entirely seriously”, Jean-Claude Juncker’s answer is simple. Not to reform the organisation but instead give it military muscle via a standing army of its own.
In an interview with German magazine Die Welt am Sonntag on Sunday, Juncker said: “Europe has lost a huge amount of respect. In foreign policy too, we don’t seem to be taken entirely seriously.”
The EU president argues by extension that a land force would therefore allow the EU to react in a “credible manner” to threats against a member state.
“You would not create a European army to use it immediately,” said Juncker, who was previously prime minister of military giant Luxembourg. “But a common European army would send a clear message to Russia that we are serious about defending European values.”
Um, with all due respect Mr President, isn’t that what NATO is for?
The key section of the NATO treaty, signed in Washington, D.C. on 4 April 1949, is Article 5. It commits each member state to consider an armed attack against one member state to be an armed attack against them all. This article has been invoked only once in NATO history: by the United States after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Yes, NATO members Canada and the US are not part of continental Europe, but the alliance stands and gives members on this side of the Atlantic the ability to act as one if and when the threat of an attack is made by an outside force.
At the same time, NATO members can maintain their armed forces to pursue national interests as defined by them without first deferring to another layer of self-appointed but ultimately unaccountable bureaucrats.
So as if establishing a single currency, centralising policy making in Brussels, abandoning nation state border controls, creating supra national laws and judicial systems, sanctioning mass migration and creating citizenship which conforms not to a country but a scarcely realised construct (the EU itself) were not enough examples of the EU’s manifest inability to even govern itself let alone prosecute a war against a hostile aggressor, Juncker’s answer to Moscow’s aggression is more power to Brussels.
Germany’s defence minister is on board, though.
Ursula Von der Leyen told German radio that she believed that the German army could “under certain circumstances” be prepared to put soldiers under the control of another nation. Such a move would “strengthen Europe’s security” and “strengthen a European pillar in the transAtlantic alliance”.
“Our future as Europeans will one day be a European army” she said before quickly adding “not in the short term”.
The idea of a EU army is not a new one. It has been talked about, off and on, for years.
When Nigel Farage warned last year about the EU wanting its own army in his debate with Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem deputy prime minister dismissed the claim as a “dangerous fantasy”.
Mike Hookem, a defence spokesman for Ukip, said Juncker’s comments confirmed the position of the Ukip leader.
“Ukip [has] been ridiculed for years and branded scaremongers for suggesting that the UK’s traditional parties were slowly relinquishing control of our defence and moving toward a European army,” Hookem said. “However, yet again, Ukip’s predictions have been proved correct.”
“A European Army would be a tragedy for the UK. We have all seen the utter mess the EU has made of the eurozone economy, so how can we even think of trusting them with this island’s defence?”
Exactly. The answer to armed in conflict in Europe will never be to send in the clowns of Brussels. A debating society of 28 member states is no substitute for centralised command and control in one country.
The UK is better to stand alone with sovereign control of its own army. At least while we still have one worthy of the name.
And if Russia’s major concern with NATO is the involvement of the US, a military giant in every sense of the word, then that is as good an argument as any to keep the military status quo as it is.