European Union’s military powers
November 19, 2020 - November 20, 2020 - The European Union’s first annual report on joint defence capabilities will serve as the basis for a French-led, post-Brexit, post-Trump effort to turn the EU into a stand-alone military power.
During Britain’s membership of the bloc, London resisted a continental military force, putting an emphasis instead on cooperation with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for European defence. NATO and the EU have long operated together, in particular in the Western Balkans and Afghanistan.
France, which now becomes the EU’s remaining significant military power after Brexit, has been pushing for a European military force, independent of the United States since 2017.
In a recent interview with the “Revue Grand Continent,” French President Emmanuel Macron said that Europe needs an independent defence strategy.
“The United States will only respect us as allies if we are serious about our own position, and if we have our own sovereignty regarding our defence,” said Macron.
France has been fighting in northwest Africa’s Sahel region since 2014 in Operation Barkhane -- an intervention to defend Europe’s southern flank from Islamist extremism.
And now, Macron’s call for the formation of a European army has the backing of German Chancellor Angela Merkel as well as former German Defence Minister and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.
Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) -- the country’s second-biggest political party -- has proposed a plan to create a new, separate EU force in addition to the national armed forces of the 27 members of the bloc.
However, Germany’s Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has stressed that Europe would have to remain dependent on U.S. military protection for the near future.