The EU’s foreign policy chief has outlined her vision of closer European military cooperation following the UK’s vote to leave the union.
Federica Mogherini has proposed setting up a Brussels headquarters for European battlegroups capable of mounting military interventions in crises. A headquarters was one of four priority proposals to be presented to EU governments after the Brexit vote, she told Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
EU defence policy remains in the hands of European governments, rather than the EU executive.
While insisting she was not proposing an EU army, Mogherini said the UK’s impending departure had left other EU governments with no excuse for not moving forward on giving the EU a defence capacity. The idea has long been cherished by European federalists, but categorically resisted by London.
Her proposals reflect ideas that were outlined in a document titled Shared vision, common action: a stronger Europe – a global strategy for the European Union’s foreign And security policy, which was published a few days after the EU referendum.
As Europeans we must take greater responsibility for our security. We must be ready and able to deter, respond to, and protect ourselves against external threats, the document states. While Nato exists to defend its members – most of which are European – from external attack, Europeans must be better equipped, trained and organised to contribute decisively to such collective efforts, as well as to act autonomously if and when necessary.
Mogherini said she had begun discussions with EU governments on a global security strategy for the EU. She claimed that, after the Brexit vote, there was a general consensus on the need to move forward in this field. The former Italian foreign minister said: If you look at opinion polls, the principal concerns of Europeans are the economy and security. Internal security implies also an external dimension, a defence capacity. It’s good to clarify we are not talking about a European army, but about European defence: something we can really do, concretely, starting now.
Existing multinational rapid-reaction units, which she described as battlegroups, had to be put into action, Mogherini said: We can and we must decide to make them an asset to be used when we need a rapid European intervention.
Her second priority would be to use article 44 of the EU’s founding treaties, allowing a smaller group of countries to organise military action on behalf of the union as a whole.
The third was the creation of a common headquarters in Brussels that would run all present and future military and civilian operations. Mogherini said: This could become the nucleus around which a common European defence structure could be built. The fourth priority had to be European governments pooling resources for the gigantic investments needed in the defence sector, she said.
The EU is involved with six military missions, plus 11 civilian operations, mostly in the Balkans, the Middle East and Africa. However, the troops serving in these missions are not under the banner of an EU army, but national forces.
News Source TheGuardianNews