BRUSSELS --- EU states in November agreed to create a new military headquarters inside Federica Mogherini’s foreign service and to make joint “battlegroups” ready for action. The European Commission also unveiled proposals for a joint military research and procurement fund.
The plan so far is a modest one.
The headquarters is to command only non-combat military missions, such as training missions. The battlegroups, forces of some 1,000 men made by coalitions of EU countries, are designed to be parachuted into action in Africa or in the Middle East to prevent conflicts.
The proposed fund would spend €500 million a year on research into areas such as robotics and satellites. It would spend €5 billion a year on buying items such as drones and helicopters, but these would be owned by individual member states.
The military plan comes amid a mounting sense of insecurity both among Nato generals and the European public.
Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, where it continues to wage war in the Donbas region, and in Syria, where it is bombing Western-backed rebels and civilians, has prompted Nato to deploy a deterrent force of more than 5,000 men in the Baltic and Black Sea areas early this year.
Terrorist attacks in Belgium, Germany, and France over the past 12 months have also heightened tension in Europe.
The attacks by the Islamic State jihadist group led to a loss of trust in EU governments' abilities to protect their citizens and aggravated the debate on the EU’s handling of the refugee crisis.
Britain’s decision in June to leave the EU spurred on the military project. The UK, the EU’s largest military power, had previously opposed it on grounds that it would compete with Nato.
The election of Donald Trump in the US in November also gave the EU military plan a new sense of urgency. The president-elect said in his campaign that the US might no longer defend Nato allies and that he might make a deal with Russia on Ukraine over Europe’s head.
Announcing the military headquarters and battlegroup scheme in November, Mogherini said she had lost count of how many times she had said the project was “not … an EU army”. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the EU Observer website.