Brussels: The European Union has once again proposed to build an independent army, given Russia’s growing and aggressive movements. Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, stated that the defence ministers of the EU’s member states had discussed the issue in a meeting held on Thursday. The plan for a 5,000-strong Rapid Response Military Force was discussed at the meeting.
Given Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and ongoing conflicts in various African countries, including Libya, there has been a growing demand from the European Union, especially from Germany and France, for an independent army. The plan has not been executed yet due to opposition from the UK, a former EU member, and some northern European countries. After the UK’s exit, however, it has gained momentum.
In 1999, the European Union discussed the concept of an independent army for the first time. Later, Battlegroups were established in Europe based on the idea. More than ten EU Battlegroups were formed, comprising 1500 to 4000 soldiers but were never used. Now, the EU Battlegroups of over 5000 soldiers are being repurposed and work on the project of Rapid Response Military Force is underway.
Currently, 14 EU nations have backed the project. These include Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, Ireland, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Luxembourg and Cyprus. Moreover, a senior EU official informed about the Rapid Response Military Force. He said, “The new force includes a land component, air component and maritime component. The EU will be able to deploy its forces with an immediate effect if a militant group is attempting to usurp the legitimate government in a specific country.”
In 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron had proposed forming such an ‘Intervention Force’. At the time, Macron had clarified that this force would not be a part of NATO and function independently. After that, the European Union took steps to form a body separate from NATO and also made a particular provision for it in its budget.