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Wednesday 29 March 2023 Dublin: 11°C
# bulking up?
Is the EU actually heading towards having its own army?
This week the EU and Nato made their first ever joint declaration on security.

ONE PIECE OF literature cited by the official Vote Leave campaign in the run up to the Brexit vote came from a group called ‘Veterans for Britain’.

In a leaflet the group – made up of former high-ranking military personnel – made a pretty definite claim about the future of the UK’s security:

If we stay, the EU is planning the creation of an EU Army. The EU Parliament is in favour of it. This would mean that the UK would lose control of its defence and its international standing would be diminished.

leaflet Veterans for Britain The leaflet in question Veterans for Britain

In the wake of the Leave vote a number of its pre-referendum promises have been called into doubt – with doubts over the £350 million being sent to Europe and Britain’s ability to control its own borders. 

However, with the case of a possible European Army – things are a little bit more complicated.

So are there plans in place for an EU Army?

While there is nothing immediate on the horizon, the EU has been mulling over its security options for a long time.

Back in 1998, then British PM Tony Blair and French president Jacques Chirac bilaterally endorsed the Petersberg tasks – a measure which broadened the circumstances in which the political union can take military action.

In a joint statement on the matter, EU heads of state said that it was agreed that the EU:

Must have the capacity for autonomous action, backed by credible military forces, the means to decide to use them, and a readiness to do so.

That would seem to be pretty clear about the aims of the EU – and concern about it isn’t just the conservation of leave campaigners.

“Despite plans for the creation of a Common European Army, Irish citizens deeply value our neutrality and oppose any Irish role in the growing militarisation of Europe,” said Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carty ahead of a summit this week to examine further ties between NATO and the EU.

The overlap between the two organisations is significant, with 21 of the EU’s 28 member states members of the military alliance.

20160707_NATO Statistia Statistia

While Carthy called upon Taoiseach Enda Kenny to oppose any closer ties between the two organisations – it would seem they are now coming closer together.

The summit, which took place in Warsaw, Poland during the last two weeks, saw the EU and NATO sign their first ever joint declaration on security, with it stating that the time has come to “give new impetus and new substance to the NATO-EU strategic partnership”.

“It is a blatant contradiction of the principle of Irish neutrality,” said Carthy, “and the wishes of the Irish people who wish Ireland pursue a foreign policy based on peace making and human values.”

So is an EU Army on the horizon?

While bold statements about further cooperation with Nato might raise a few eyebrows, it is unlikely that a fully-fledged EU Army will be a reality any time soon.

Currently, the EU runs six military missions and 11 civilian operations across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. However – unlike UN peacekeepers – troops working under the coordination of the EU serve under the banner of their own countries. 

map juil2016


Ultimately, decisions on further expansion of EU military power lies in the hands of

In a report on the EU’s Global Strategy at the end of last month, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini notes that the EU has “always prided itself on soft power” and makes no mention of the creation of an EU Army.

Read: Former Nato general warns that the west is risking a nuclear war with Russia

Also: The EU’s economic head honcho doesn’t think the UK will go through with its huge corporate tax cut

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