Does EUrope really need an army?

One hundred years after the end of World War I, tensions are growing between Europe and the USA. France’s Macron calls for a European army, US President Trump is offended, Russia’s Tsar Putin reacts calmly.

For a powerful bloc of states like the EU it makes sense to want to defend itself militarily, Putin said on the sidelines of the celebrations at the end of World War I in Paris.

It is “quite normal that it (Europe) wants to be independent, autonomous and sovereign in matters of security and defence,” he said to RT France (yes, we quote RT, Reuters does so, too).

Shortly before, Trump had described it as “very offensive” that Macron wanted to build a European military to become independent of the US. Macron felt obliged to disarm verbally.

But the French president does not want to let go of his plans for a “European army”. Be it! Nevertheless, the question must be allowed what is meant by it – and why such an army is needed at all.

Is it a question of classic national defence – against Russia, for example, as in the Cold War? Except in Eastern Europe, perhaps, this hardly sounds convincing – not even Germany is aware of Russian plans to attack.

Are we talking about military interventions outside Europe, for example in the French zones of influence in Africa? This may be necessary in individual cases in the fight against terrorism, but it is not a reason for a permanent EU army.

Or is it a matter of making Europe militarily independent of the USA, perhaps even of initiating the withdrawal of US troops? Germany will not join in this plan, at least not under Merkel.

A Franco-German conflict is already smouldering in the background – because Macron wants to allow military operations outside the rigid (and sluggish) EU framework, Merkel wants only with the EU and/or NATO.

So at the end of the day it’s all about sovereignty – and who has the say in the EU: Paris or Berlin. Behind the Franco-American dispute lies a Franco-German rivalry.

On historic commemoration days this can still be hidden; Macron and Merkel present themselves arm in arm. But as soon as the celebrations are over, Merkel will put the brakes on the presidents plans again…

See also “Die Crux mit der Souveränität” und “Wehrlos gegen Trump” (both in German)

Translated with