YoungDiplomats already published an article on the Defense of Europe more than a year ago(https://www.young-diplomats.com/what-about-the-defense-of-europe/). Sunday 11th of November marked the 100th birthday of the end of the first world war, commonly known as the Great War. Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, explained that only a ” European army ” can protect Europe as a whole. Of course, this statement has annoyed Donald Trump and pleased Vladimir Putin, praising for a fully autonomous Europe in order to decline U.S influence. The purpose of this column will be to explain how useless would be a European army.
A European army would be useless considering the threats
The Internal threats
When a country sets up an army force, it first and foremost has to think about the
threats. Once threats are analyzed, a government elaborates an army to deal with these threats. the European Union is facing different type of threats. On one side, the EU can be vulnerable when it comes to internal dislocation. The case of Catalonia is here the perfect case study. Carles Puigdemont, former leader of Catalonia declared its region to be autonomous from the central Spanish state. This internal threat is more important for countries such France or Spanish which tend to be much more centralistic than other European countries namely Germany or Italy. Then, terrorism can also be deemed as an internal threat considering how numerous would be “lone wolves” and minor islamic groups.
A European army would be completely useless to deal with the internal threats. Fragmentation of Europe can be faced off with centralization and a more effective administration. It also has to be said that the EU has significantly played a role in this dislocation because of providing the regions with mass amount of money. Would the EU finance and administrate an army against a threat it has contributed to create ?
The External threats
Even if this scenario remains highly unlikely, Russia can be a threat in the years (or decades) to come. Russia is the main threat because this is the only border power in Europe able to launch a massive conflict against a couple of states. Turkey or Maghreb States are far from having this ability.
At first sight a massive European army seems really attractive during a struggle with Russia. Nevertheless, it is necessary to say that member states of the EU still have full competency on their foreign policy. Thus from France to Hungary, the relationships with Russia really are diverse. If the EU builds a European army it first have to deprive States of this competence. Given the current rise of Euro skepticism, it’s obvious that States will not allow such a sovereignty transfer.
Such army would need a nation !
The real power is the one people are ready to die for it. The underlying issue with a European army is to know whether Europeans are ready to die for the EU. People don’t have this feeling of being European. They are not ready to give their life to the EU, seen as a huge technocratic machine far from the people. An army is really efficient when it is nation, sharing a common culture, value and langage. Of course the creation of a European army is not an easy topic and opinions differ !