Brussels/Geneva – ‘European efforts are welcome defence front, but it cannot replace NATO. Any efforts to weaken the bond between Europe and the United States would not only undermine the NATO but can potentially divide Europe’, warned NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg
The relations of the US and Europe appear to be strained due to the recent developments. The withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan resulted in a disaster and is censured. The European Union, the traditional ally of the US, has also criticised the decision, calling it a big mistake. In this tense situation, the demand for an independent European Army from the European countries is gaining momentum once again.
High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, at a recent meeting in Slovenia, proposed that the European Union have an independent First Entry Force with at least 5,000 troops. Some European countries have supplemented their demand to have up to 20,000 soldiers. The proposals from Borrell and other countries appear to be part of building a European army.
In the past, NATO had expressed displeasure over the proposal of an independent European army. Even now, while expressing his displeasure, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg directly hinted at the division of Europe. He spoke in support of the US Alliance but said that maintaining some independence was important for Europe. At the same time, he highlighted the danger that the objectives, structure, and command of an independent European Army would become a duplicate of NATO.
For the past two decades, the idea of an independent European army has been pushed by some countries of the European Union. This is an initiative by Germany and France, which have succeeded in gaining the support of other countries but faced strong opposition from the United Kingdom. After Brexit, the member states of the Union have once again renewed their efforts for an independent European army, which is part of the Union’s defence policy. As a groundwork to set up an independent European army, the Union had established two battlegroups with 1,500 soldiers each, which have never been deployed yet.