Tuesday, 21 Sep 2021

Even EU insider rips apart calls for a European army – ‘Not wanted and isn’t the answer!’

Macron criticised over push for EU army by Italian MEP

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The US withdrawal from Afghanistan has sparked fresh calls for an EU army from figures including the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt. But Bernd Riegert, senior European correspondent for German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, warned a joint military force is “not the answer”.

Writing for DW, Mr Riegert said: “This force does not exist because it is not wanted politically and because from a military point of view it would be very expensive and time-consuming.”

Mr Riegert insisted that Brussels should instead focus on Nato rather than an EU army.

He said: “The EU can continue to dream of an army that will certainly never exist as it is.

“It would be more important to strengthen the European pillar in Nato.

“The European states in Nato would have to agree more closely on common equipment, training and leadership.

“To this day, the armies in the European Nato countries are too inefficient, too expensive, too bureaucratic and work in parallel.

“In the long term, the Europeans in Nato must also acquire better reconnaissance, drone armament, air transport capacities and much more.

“Nevertheless, they will not be able to decouple themselves from the military superpower USA: Full military sovereignty for Europe is neither an attainable goal, nor a goal worth striving for.”

Mr Riegert’s comments come after the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs said Afghanistan shows the need for the bloc to have a rapid reaction force.

Mr Borrell told Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera: “We need to draw lessons from this experience … as Europeans we have not been able to send 6,000 soldiers around the Kabul airport to secure the area. The US has been, we haven’t.”

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He insisted the EU should have an “initial entry force” of 5,000 soldiers, adding: “We need to be able to act quickly.”

Meanwhile, MEP Mr Verhofstadt described an EU army as “common sense” in a Twitter post last month.

He said: “Afghanistan once more shows armies are crucial to the security of our citizens & allies abroad.

“EU countries need to do that together: cooperate & integrate forces so our people, interests & values are protected.

“Think beyond taboos or caricatures: an EU army is common sense!”

Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.

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