Merkel's speech: https://youtu.be/NmHVTmEYqRA
The question of a European Army has got a lot of people excited ...largely because it seems to fly in the face of the idea of sovereignty at its very heart.
In the context of Trump's questioning of NATO, his falling out with Macron who was pushing the idea, and now Brexit as well as the wider context of nationalistic versions of populism, the Euro Army thing seems to be an elite provocation
But is it....
Is there not a version of a European Army in (co-)operation today?
Has there been such an institution, albeit rather un-noticed, since the end of World War 2?
If so, what did it look like
What was its history?
Having reviewed these matters, I shall then come to discuss the problems besetting the current flare-up of the idea of a European Army.
The Western Union (WU), also referred to as the Brussels Treaty Organisation (BTO), was the European military alliance established between France, the United Kingdom (UK) and the three Benelux countries in September 1948 in order to implement the Treaty of Brussels signed in March the same year. Under this treaty the signatories, referred to as the five powers, agreed to collaborate in the defence ﬁeld as well as in the political, economic and cultural ﬁelds.
During the Korean War (1950–1953), the
headquarters, personnel and plans of the WU's defence
arm, the Western Union Defence Organisation (WUDO), were transferred to the
newly established North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), providing the
nucleus of NATO's command structure at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers
Europe (SHAPE). As a consequence of the failure of the European Defence
Community in 1954, the London and Paris Conferences led to the Modified Treaty
of Brussels (
The roots of the WU lie in the British-French Treaty of Dunkirk signed in
1947. A defence pact assuring each signatory of coming to the others aid in the event of
attack. Initially a bulwark against any further aggression from
It is perhaps not co-incidental that it was driven from the British side by
Ernest Bevin, formerly the leader of the TGWU and an arch anti-communist.
Early 1948 - Proposal to extend
the Treaty of Dunkirk to include
Three factors had led to the
1) to urge to
promote economic, social and cultural cooperation and collective self-defence
as East-West tension mounted, with the
2) to reflect the resolve of the contracting
States to take precautions against the potential resurgence of any threat from
3) to confirm
the wish of European countries to organise themselves jointly, indirectly
The aim of the Americans was to bring defence resources and policies under one head.
And there was another factor that gave urgency to countries settle the terms of mutual assurance and that was the
take-over of the Czech government by the communists - the '
It accelerated the construction of a West European alliance, the Treaty of
Brussels, the following month; mutual security was the new watchword. Until
early 1948, Western and Soviet representatives had communicated in regular
meetings at the foreign minister level; the Czech coup constituted a final
rupture in relations between the two superpowers, with the West now committing
itself to collective self-defence. By early March,
The UK Foreign Secretary Bevin was greatly concerned about the possible
success of the communists in the forthcoming Italian election as he felt that
the coup would be used by the Italian left as a popular signal of the success
of political freedom and that this would ramify into a Communist win in
The most important action taken by the Brussels Treaty
Organisation was the political decision to set up a Standing Military Committee
Below is the organisational chart for WUDO
NATO as emergence from the increasing anxiety about the formation of a 'Soviet Bloc' (Treaty signed: 4th April 1949)
but I am not going there as the story is too familiar.
Cold war in
Upon the accession of Eisenhower in 1950 to Supreme Allied Commander Europe, it was agreed that WUDO would be incorporated into NATO
That might have been the end of a directly European Army as such but the story was not over yet.
The question remained of what to do about
The US was considering the development of 12 West German army division that would be part of NATO but this was objected to by the French and perhaps by Europe who saw that Europe was losing out s between the US and Russia in terms of military and security influence.
Emergence of the European Defence Community
To overcome this sense of loss the Pleven
Plan emerged. though it was drafted mainly by Jean
Monnet, that aimed to create a supranational European Army. With this project,
The EDC was to include
It is clear the the EDC really was
an attempt to build a European Army..but
french national pride and thus intransigence played a
key part in
A Time magazine article from
EUROPEAN ARMY: De Gaulle's Alternative
months have passed since six Western European nations signed treaties with each
other for the creation of a European Defense
Community. The treaties provide for a common 43 division army, wearing the same
uniforms, using the same weapons, and obeying the same commander; but before a
corps can be organized or a single German armed, the treaties have to be
ratified by the parliaments of six countries.
TREATY CONSTITUTING THE EUROPEAN DEFENSE
The President of the
the King of the
Belgians, the President of the
President of the
Resolved to contribute to the maintenance of peace, particularly
by ensuring the
defense of '
in cooperation with all free nations, in the spirit of the
United Nations Charter, and in close liaison with organizations
having the same purpose;
Considering that as complete an integration as possible, compatible
with military requirements, of the human and material
elements gathered in their Defense Forces within a supranational
European organization is the most appropriate means of reaching
this goal with all the necessary rapidity and effectiveness;
Certain that such integration will result in the most rational
and economic utilization of the resources of their countries, as a
result, particularly, of the establishment of a common budget and
of common armament programs ;
Determined to ensure in this way the development of their military
power without prejudicing social progress;
Desirous to safeguard the spiritual and moral values which are
the common heritage of their peoples, and convinced that within
a common army constituted without discrimination among the
participating States national patriotisms, far from being weakened,
can only become consolidated and reconciled in a_ broader
Conscious that they are thus taking a new and essential step
on the road to
the formation of a united
Have decided to create a European Defense Community and to this
end have designated as plenipotentiaries:
* * * * * * *
Who, after having exchanged their full powers and found them in
good and due form, have agreed upon the provisions which follow.
Chapter 1-The European Defense Community
By the present Treaty the High Contracting Parties institute among
themselves a European Defense Community, supranational in character,
consisting of common institutions, common armed Forces and a
1. The objectives of the Community shall be exclusively defensive.
2. Consequently, under the conditions provided for in the present
Treaty, it shall ensure the security of the member States against any
aggression by participating in Western Defense within the framework
of the defense
forces of the
economic utilization of their resources.
3. Any armed aggression directed against any one of the member
considered as an attack directed against all of the member States.
furnish to the State or Forces thus attacked all military and other
aid and assistance in their power.
Community shall cooperate closely with the
Chapter Il-Legal Status of the European Defense Forces
1. In the exercise of the functions assigned to it by the present
Treaty, and without prejudice to the rights and obligations of the
member States :
the Community shall have, in respect of the European Defense
Forces and theit members, the same rights and obligations as the
States in respect of their national forces and their members, in
accordance with customary international law;
the Community shall respect the rules embodied in conventions
concerning the laws of war which bind one or more of its member
2. Consequently, European Defense Forces and their members shall '
benefit, under international law, from the same treatment as national
forces and their members.
Even then the idea of some mechanisms of a European defence pact was not over. The transformation of the WU into the Western European Union (WEU)
It is in the signatories to the founding document of the WEU
wherein is found the idea of
To create in
To afford assistance to each other in resisting any policy of aggression;
promote the unity and encourage the progressive integration of
Of course the
The increasing significance of the European Community (as the EU was called then) as the coordinating body of European states as well as the recognition of the general importance of not only economic integration but political integration. This saw in 1970 the emergence of 'European Political Cooperation' and this meant: Foreign Policy coordination.
This did not extend to defence co-operation and thus led to
an opportunity for the WEU to take up the slack. Opposition to these efforts
Failure of EU in the Emerging Yugoslavian Crisis. 1990-1999
Members of the
1992 Petersberg Declaration began to address military based
issues in the wake of the fall of the Berlin Wall the potential for
The member states of the WEU agreed to deploy their troops and resources from across the whole spectrum of the military under the authority of the WEU. As a part of the partial merger of the WEU with the European Union, these tasks became part of the European Security and Defence Policy and incorporated into the 1997 EU Treaty of Amsterdam.
1996 NATO ministerial meeting in Berlin, it was agreed that the Western European Union would oversee the creation of a European Security and Defence Identity (ESDI) within NATO structures. The ESDI was intended as a European 'pillar' within NATO, partly to allow European countries to act militarily where NATO wished not to, and partly to alleviate the United States' financial burden of maintaining military bases in Europe, which it had done since the Cold War.
The ongoing failure of the EU to help sort out the then raging Kosovan war in 1998 led to the St Malo Declaration.
The Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) 1999 = ESDP
This led to the transformation of the ESDI into the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) in 1999, when it was transferred to the EU
And all this seemed to resurrect the idea of a European Army in all but name.
Extract of Text of St Malo Delaration:
2. To this end, the Union must have the capacity for autonomous action, backed up by credible military forces, the means to decide to use them, and a readiness to do so, in order to respond to international crises.
In pursuing our
objective, the collective defence commitments to which member states subscribe
(set out in Article 5 of the
In strengthening the solidarity between the member states of the European Union, in order that Europe can make its voice heard in world affairs, while acting in conformity with our respective obligations in NATO, we are contributing to the vitality of a modernised Atlantic Alliance which is the foundation of the collective defence of its members.
Europeans will operate within the institutional framework of the European Union (European Council, General Affairs Council, and meetings of Defence Ministers).The reinforcement of European solidarity must take into account the various positions of European states. The different situations of countries in relation to NATO must be respected.
3. In order for the European Union to take decisions and approve military action where the Alliance as a whole is not engaged, the Union must be given appropriate structures and a capacity for analysis of situations, sources of intelligence, and a capability for relevant strategic planning, without unnecessary duplication, taking account of the existing assets of the WEU and the evolution of its relations with the EU. In this regard, the European Union will also need to have recourse to suitable military means (European capabilities pre-designated within NATO’s European pillar or national or multinational European means outside the NATO framework).
4. Europe needs strengthened armed forces that can react rapidly to the new risks, and which are supported by a strong and competitive European defence industry and technology.
To cut a longer story short, most of the responsibilities for defence policy under the terms of the WEU were transferred to the EU by thee end of 2003-4.
In 2009 the Treaty of Lisbon took over the WEU's mutual defence clause.
There were plans to scrap it.
That same year, the Spanish Presidency of the WEU, on behalf of the 10 Member States of the Modified Brussels Treaty, announced the collective decision to withdraw from the Treaty and to close the WEU organisation by June 2011.
BUT...that did not mean that European defence policy and the possibility of a European military force had somehow ceased to exist.
The integration of the WEU into the structures of the ESDP
Across the 2000s there have been various missions and interventions by the EU
e.g. 2003 -
And then today we have PESCO - which could become the backbone statement for another run at creating a European Army
EU member states join up forces for reinforced security and defence with the permanent structured cooperation (PESCO).
The possibility of the Permanent
Structured Cooperation in the area of defence security and defence policy was
introduced by the
The member states who signed the joint notification are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. It is possible for other member states to join at a later stage.
The joint notification is the first formal step to set up the PESCO. It sets out:
At this point then
the conclusion we can draw is that in a perhaps rather scattered way across the last
A European Army today?