The EU’s incoming security chief has said the bloc needs a standing army of 60,000 soldiers that Brussels can deploy around the world.
Josep Borrell said at a European Parliament hearing into his candidacy as vice president for foreign affairs and security on Monday: “The European Union has to learn to use the language of power.”
The 72-year-old Spanish socialist continued that the European lawmakers should “reinforce the EU’s international role and further our military capacity to act”.
He called for Brussels to raise the number of troops to at least 55,000 to 60,000. Such a force would be larger than the standing armies of Portugal (35,000) or the Netherlands (43,000).
“We should pull our national sovereignties together to multiply the power of individual member states. And I am convinced that if we don’t act together, Europe will become irrelevant in the new coming world,” he added.
Brussels currently has “battlegroups” of 3,000 soldiers from across militaries of EU Member States, according to The Telegraph. The battlegroups are on standby every six months but have not, to date, been used. To increase those forces by twenty-fold and make them permanent, Brussels would need the unanimous support of Member States.
Farage: The EU Is ‘Building an Empire. Why Deny It?’ https://t.co/jkYs8I9SWQ
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) September 17, 2019
Brexit Party leader and MEP Nigel Farage raised the alarm over the calls for a permanent EU army. He said: “The EU is now aiming for an army of 60,000 and incoming foreign policy boss Josep Borrell says: ‘the EU has to learn to use the language of power.’
“When will Remainers stop lying about the intentions of this dangerous, undemocratic state?”
In 2015, then-leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg called the notion of an EU army a “dangerous fantasy” and ridiculed Mr Farage for saying that the force was the next step in EU empire-building.
However, in November 2017, Eurosceptics were proven right when the majority of EU nations signed the Permanent Structured Cooperation process (PESCO). The document is instrumental to European Defence Union plans which were devised by outgoing President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, who supports the foundation of a “fully-fledged” EU army by 2025.
Last year, French President Emmanuel Macron called for a “real European army” to “protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America”. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the European Commission enthusiastically backed the idea.
Pro-Brexit group Veterans for Britain has warned that even when the UK leaves the EU, it could still get pulled into defence projects with the bloc. Senior figures met with the European Research Group on Tuesday to brief the group of Eurosceptic Tories on the defence implications of the proposed withdrawal treaty.
A Veterans for Britain source told the Express: “The Prime Minister may have got rid of the backstop but that was not the only thing that was wrong with the Withdrawal Agreement.
“The defence element is a serious threat to our sovereignty but this issue has been completely overlooked.”
ERG Chairman Steve Baker said the UK must “escape commitments to the EU’s Defence Union. Many of us are concerned but it’s not too late to preserve the independence of our Armed Forces.”
Farage: Von der Leyen Wants to Build ‘Updated Form of Communism’, Advance EU Army https://t.co/WvcFetxY43
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 16, 2019