Young European Federalists demand decisive steps towards a European army

, by Juuso Järviniemi

Young European Federalists demand decisive steps towards a European army
Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron at a European Council meeting in 2017. Photo: European Council / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Since the centenary of the Armistice on 11 November, both French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have spoken out in support of a European army to guarantee peace between European countries and to strengthen Europe’s sovereignty. In a press release, the Young European Federalists (JEF-Europe) welcome the two leaders’ proposals but criticise their lack of detail.

On 11 November, Emmanuel Macron started the most recent discussion on a European army by pointing to the threat that nationalism presents to peace within the EU. Two days later at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Angela Merkel echoed Macron’s ideas, while also appealing for unity in other areas such as refugee and asylum policy, and the future of the Eurozone. The two leaders further discussed these issues last Sunday as they met in Berlin to commemorate the German Volkstrauertag, national day of mourning past conflicts and oppression.

As long-time advocates for a European army, JEF welcomed these expressions of commitment to Europe. However, the organisation demands more in-depth discussion on the practical details to take place immediately.

In reference to Angela Merkel’s Strasbourg speech where she envisaged a European army “one day”, board member Emma Farrugia cited the continued ascent of ‘illiberalism’ and said, “there is simply no more time to discuss the possibilities of ‘one day’ - real and bold steps must be decisively taken to start discussing the creation of a truly European army now”. The leaders’ proposals concern topics such as a European arms acquisition policy and European rapid reaction force, but JEF warns about the scant practical detail in Macron and Merkel’s proposals.

The two leaders’ declarations may have created fresh discussion on the long-overdue theme of a European army, but the job of politicians is not only to talk about things, but also to act on their words. Pro-European organisations, on the other hand, are showing that they are ready to support bold proposals but also to hold leaders accountable. All eyes are still on French, German and other leaders who are now called on to get around a table and agree what a “true European army” means in practice.

Your comments

  • On 22 November at 13:33, by Ian Beckett Replying to: Young European Federalists demand decisive steps towards a European army

    A European Army would require a single foreign policy, yet foreign policy is not covered by QMV. To illustrate the problem, this month several EU countries have stated they will not sign the new UN global compact on migration, while others see it as vital. The result would inevitable be deadlock without any action ever being taken.

    A number of EU states are militarily neutral. The question arises how that will that be handled or are they to be told that this is no longer an option. Certainly while it may be possible for the EU to form a military without any input from these countries it is unlikely that any opponent the EU was fighting would decide that they should not attack the neutral countries. The whole concept of neutrality is therefore removed from these citizens without them being consulted.

    The comment “to guarantee peace between European countries” suggests that the tension between some EU states is seen as serious. If that is really the case then trying to impose a single military is likely to exacerbate the situation and to be rejected by those considered as ‘illiberal’.

    In summary, it is difficult to see how an effective common military can be formed without a full federal state preceding it. An attempt to do so as a step towards such a federal state would be rather like the euro, a flawed construct with fundamental problems that causes more problems than it resolves.

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