The claim of the European federalists clashes with national sovereignty

Nine arguments to reject the creation of an own army for the European Union

From time to time, European federalists reignite the debate on the supposed need for an army of their own for the EU. But do we really need that?

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The evacuation of Afghanistan has been used as an excuse by the socialist Josep Borrell, High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the EU, to reopen the debate. “I hope that this situation helps to make the concept of strategic autonomy well understood,” he said this week, adding: now we would like to have the capacity to act on our own, to have a military force capable of mobilizing as the Americans mobilize theirs.”

There are good arguments to reject this claim of the European federalists. Here are some of them:

  1. Defense is a national prerogative of the member countries of the EU, and it should continue to be so, since the possession of an Armed Forces is a characteristic clearly linked to national sovereignty. The creation of a European army would undermine the national sovereignty of the member countries, granting it the status that the states that make up the United States have, which would mean the de facto dissolution of each of the European countries and their corresponding armies. There would no longer be a Spanish Armada, a Spanish Army, or a Spanish Air Force. Our military would not be under the orders of the King and the Spanish Parliament, but under the orders of the members of the European Commission. Many Europeans do not want our Nations and their armies to disappear so that the Brussels bureaucrats can accumulate more and more power.
  2. We Europeans already have a very effective defense collaboration structure: NATO. It is based on loyal cooperation between free and independent nations. In addition, it is a structure that we have in common with countries outside the EU, such as the US, Canada, the United Kingdom and Turkey. Therefore, in addition to being contrary to national sovereignty, an European army is unnecessary and would overlap with the NATO structure, with which the Alliance countries have been able to equip themselves with common defense tools, such as the AWACS E-3. Sentry, the RQ-4 Global Hawk and the C-17 of the Strategic Airlift Capability Program.
  3. The EU is turning into a dangerous mega-state. Brussels’ bureaucratic elite has acquired the worst characteristics of an elephantine state, compounded by its alienation from the ordinary citizen. The legislative diarrhea of the European Parliament has turned into an eagerness to impose ideological agendas on the member countries, with totalitarian overtones that are beginning to be alarming. With an EU that seems bent on becoming more and more like the USSR, one wonders if what some want is a European army to emulate the Soviets in their invasion of Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968, when a member country – such as It is happening now with Poland and Hungary – detach yourself from that ideological agenda.
  4. The problem of recruitment: today most of the armed forces of the EU member countries are professional armies. However, some European federalists are already demanding a European army with conscription. One wonders by what right they intend to impose such a thing on the youth of the member countries. Would it be approved in a referendum? And if that referendum ends in a rejection of that service, for example, in Spain, but in much more populated countries such as Germany and France it is approved, would young Spaniards have to do a mandatory European “military service” because the Germans and French want it?
  5. The adverse experience of the Eurocorps: in 1993 France and Germany formed a common army corps headquarters based in Strasbourg, called Eurocorps. It functions as a multinational army corps, to which the member countries freely assign the forces they decide. In the years following its creation, Belgium, Spain and Luxembourg joined it. Starting in 2002, Greece, Turkey, Italy, Poland and Romania associated to the corps. There were also other countries that associated to it, such as the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Finland, and Canada, which ended up dissociating themselves. Today, the countries involved are a minority of the 27 members of the EU. Given so little interest in the Eurocorps, do some already want to launch an EU army?
  6. Europe already had a defense organization, the Western European Union (WEU), and its foreign missions did not show the need for a European army, as they were perfectly acceptable by the armed forces of the member countries within the framework of this common collaboration without having than to renounce their national sovereignty. The powers of the WEU were assumed by the EU after its dissolution in 2011, without since then there has been evidence of the need for a European army.
  7. Who would lead this European army and what interests would it serve? The European countries that invest the most in defense are France and Germany. They are also the most populated countries. Thus, it is logical to think that they would want to lead the way in a possible EU army, as they already do in the Union itself, and this would be a source of conflict. It is not something comparable to the greater weight that some regions have over others in a country: the EU is not a country, and its member countries are not mere regions, but sovereign States.
  8. Its negative effects on the defense industry. Conflicts in the defense industry should also be assessed. With an increasingly interventionist EU, how long would it take to demand a concentration of that industry, with the consequent reduction in free competition and its negative effects? The experience of European defense projects – which take too long to develop and end up becoming obsolete or with deficiencies (Eurofighter, Eurocopter Tigre, NH-90, etc.) – should serve as an example.
  9. What would happen if an EU country decides to leave it? Imagine a case similar to the British BREXIT but having to proceed with the separation of the European army from the military forces corresponding to the country in question. Who would decide which media paid for by all Europeans would remain in the hands of that country? The BREXIT negotiation was already a headache, and instead of learning from experience, some still want to get us fully into an even bigger problem, with their determination to make the EU member countries themselves disappear.

The European Union must not stop being an international organization formed by independent countries with their own armed forces, to become a country at the cost of suppressing our national sovereignty and absorbing our armies. We Europeans have more than good reason to be suspicious of the growing thirst for power at the top of the EU, which is what underlies these claims to create a single European army. Europe is not a country, but a continent made up of nations with their own languages, cultures, customs, traditions and needs. We must not give up who we are to satisfy the ambitions of the EU’s political leadership.

Photo: Reuters. Soldiers attached to the Eurocorps folding the flag of the European Union.

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