The concept of a joint European army, independent from NATO and under the European Union’s command, has been a recurring discussion among Europe’s policymakers. Stavros Atlamazoglou brings this topic into focus, especially in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has significantly reshaped the continent’s defense priorities.
This article is a summary. Please read the original article by Stavros Atlamazoglou on The National Interest think tank website, here
The invasion has not only been a wake-up call but also a stark reminder of the vulnerabilities within European defense mechanisms. It underscores the urgent need for an integrated approach to military defense capable of countering such aggression. However, the feasibility of establishing a unified European military force remains contentious.
The European Union’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) currently represents a nascent stage of collective defense efforts, lacking the operational teeth to be considered a genuine military force. The dream of a joint European army faces several formidable obstacles, including the EU’s inherent diversity—with 27 member states harboring varying interests and strategic priorities, reaching a consensus on establishing such a force seems daunting.
Command and control issues further complicate the picture. The hypothetical scenario of managing a multi-national force in a crisis, with countries like France and Germany possibly at odds over military engagement, illustrates the potential for deadlock and inaction.
Despite these challenges, the allure of a more autonomous and assertive European presence on the global stage remains strong. The EU has achieved significant success in economic integration, raising questions about the wisdom of extending this integration into the defense sector. Atlamazoglou suggests that while the ambition for a European defense union is understandable, the practicalities and existing structures like NATO might make such a venture more complex than beneficial.
In essence, while the concept of a joint European army aligns with the aspirations for a more unified and robust European defense posture, the road to realization is fraught with political, logistical, and strategic challenges that cannot be overlooked.
Our Staff’s Book Suggestions Related to the Article:
- “The European Union’s Common Security and Defence Policy: Power, Bureaucracy and Politics” by Michael E. Smith
- “European Defence Policy: Beyond the Nation State” by Frédéric Mérand
- “NATO and the Future of European Security” by Sean Kay
- “Security and Defence Policy in the European Union” by Jolyon Howorth
- “The European Union and Military Force: Governance and Strategy” by Tom Dyson and Theodore Konstadinides
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