European defence cooperation: State of play and thoughts on an EU army

23-03-2015

The recent comments by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, welcoming the eventual creation of an EU army in the long run, have sparked a wide debate across European capitals and the expert community. If for some the possibility of an EU army represents an illusion that may distract EU Member States from dealing with the real issues at stake – strengthening their military capabilities, integrating defence planning and procurement and defining an overarching strategy – for others, the idea is a welcome incentive for reflection on European defence. Conceivably prompted by the deteriorating security context just beyond Europe's borders, as well as the worsening relationship with Russia, the call for joint European armed forces comes amid a wider reassessment of European defence cooperation and the European security strategy initiated by the European Council in December 2013. In advance of the next major debate on defence at the June 2015 European Council meeting, during which EU Heads of State or Government are expected to assess the progress achieved so far in security and defence matters, a number of ambitious proposals to advance towards more integration of European defence have been put forward.

The recent comments by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, welcoming the eventual creation of an EU army in the long run, have sparked a wide debate across European capitals and the expert community. If for some the possibility of an EU army represents an illusion that may distract EU Member States from dealing with the real issues at stake – strengthening their military capabilities, integrating defence planning and procurement and defining an overarching strategy – for others, the idea is a welcome incentive for reflection on European defence. Conceivably prompted by the deteriorating security context just beyond Europe's borders, as well as the worsening relationship with Russia, the call for joint European armed forces comes amid a wider reassessment of European defence cooperation and the European security strategy initiated by the European Council in December 2013. In advance of the next major debate on defence at the June 2015 European Council meeting, during which EU Heads of State or Government are expected to assess the progress achieved so far in security and defence matters, a number of ambitious proposals to advance towards more integration of European defence have been put forward.