EU army plans reignited as Germany demands troops over fears of lacking US support

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Officials in the trade bloc have long spoken of a European army in order to push Brussel’s geopolitical position in the world. Funding for a European Defence Fund has also been included in the new Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). Speaking on Tuesday, the CDU and SCU parliamentary group’s foreign policy spokesman, Jurgen Hardt insisted the EU must be more capable of action.

He said: “It is important that the EU itself becomes more capable of action and that it cannot only respond effectively to crises in its own neighbourhood, but also act preventively.

“Our American friends expect the same from us.

“They are less and less willing to play a part in order to regulate regions that they consider to be far away, but which are immediate neighbourhoods for us.

“We have to build our own civil-military leadership structure that can control EU operations.

“We have to divide the tasks even more clearly among the EU member states, which makes the use of resources more efficient.

“And we have to build interoperable weapon systems.

“We want to gradually integrate the armed forces of the EU member states so that we create a European army in the long term through an army of Europeans.”

The defence scheme would receive €8billion (£7.1billion) in the mammoth €1.1trillion MFF.

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This comes despite the EU facing a severe financial crisis following the coronavirus pandemic.

The need, however, has been exaggerated following US President, Donald Trump’s persistent criticism of NATO.

NATO was established in 1949 in order to protect Europe against the Soviet Union.

Since he took office, Mr Trump has called on Europe’s NATO members to contribute more to the alliance.

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Within NATO, allies aim to contribute two percent of GDP into the defence budget.

Currently, only eight European countries pay the two percent limit or more.

At a summit in 2018, Mr Trump urged members to increase contributions to four percent.

Mr Hardt, however, indicated any European army would be to supplement NATO rather than replace it.

He said: “NATO is and remains the backbone of the Euro-Atlantic security architecture.

“For us as the CDU / CSU parliamentary group, it is clear that the EU will only expand its military structures to complement NATO, not as a duplication or even as an alternative.

“We remain firmly anchored in the transatlantic alliance – under the roof of NATO.”

EU foreign policy chief, Josep Burrell has also warned the coronavirus will cause greater insecurity in the world.

With that, he urged members to secure the necessary funding for Europe’s security and defence.

He said: “I hope that in this scenario, the resources allocated to the defence and security policy will not diminish.”

Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.

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