BERLIN, (BM) – MEPs from the German social democratic party, SPD, proposed the creation of a European military unit, subordinate to the EU institutions – the Commission and the European Parliament, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing Defence24. In practice, this would implement the concept of a “European army” that has been talked about for a long time.
The assumption of the project described by Die Welt and Augen Geradeaus would be to create a new military unit directly subordinate to European institutions. Executive power would be exercised by the European Commission through a newly appointed Defense Commissioner, while its use would be decided by the European Parliament’s Defense Committee, by simple majority. This would be, as emphasized by the Germans themselves, a significant change in relation to the present state, because today the most important decisions on foreign and security policy are taken by representatives of the governments of the member states, on the basis of unanimity.
The new unit would be – from the point of view of the organization – modeled on the NATO immediate reaction force, the so-called spitz. Ultimately, it would have up to 8,000 troops, being de facto a reinforced brigade of high-readiness land forces [then reinforced by the armed forces of the member states in the case of long missions]. Initially, its structures would be based on the existing combat groups of the European Union, with around 1,500 soldiers.
With the proviso that they would be composed not of contingents from the armed forces of the member states, but of military personnel serving directly in the “European Union army”. Recruited first from the armed forces of the member countries, and then also from EU nationals, who would then be trained and served as professional or contract soldiers.
Funding, on the other hand, would be channeled initially through the Member States, taking into account their population and GDP, and then from the European Union budget. According to the authors of the concept, the new unit would be complementary to NATO and could participate not only in activities outside the territory of the Union, on which the EU defense and security policy was focused in accordance with Article 42 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, but also in collective defense and crisis response operations on its territory. cooperating with the structures of the North Atlantic Alliance.
The authors of the concept often speak of strengthening the “strategic autonomy” of the European Union. In their opinion, its implementation may give the Union the ability to act effectively, as well as to spend resources more effectively on defense, including by using mechanisms such as the European Defense Fund. They add that “national sovereignty” in the current mechanisms of the common defense and security policy is a “brake” and, as a result, hinders further integration. On the other hand, delegating decision-making to the European Parliament would give “more democracy” at the EU level and strengthen the functions of the EP modeled on national parliaments [in Germany, it is the Bundestag that decides on the Bundeswehr’s foreign missions].
The proposal of the German SPD may be a step towards a very far-reaching defense integration of the EU, including the transfer of competences that previously were only in national states. It is worth noting that the concept of “strategic autonomy”, which the French government also talks about, is in a sense opposed to strengthening NATO’s capabilities and transatlantic relations, advocated by Angela Merkel’s party – CDU / CSU (SPD coalition partner). On the other hand, the current head of the European commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who comes from the CDU, already several years ago, as the federal defense minister, said that the European army is the future.
Read more: Top 5 weakest armies in Europe 2020
It should also be remembered that parliamentary elections are taking place in Germany next year, and the SPD is counting on a coalition with Greens skeptical of cooperation with the US [and within NATO]. On the other hand, however, the Social Democrats’ proposal reflects the views of a large number of German experts in the field of security and defense policy.
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