French President Emmanuel Macron called this week for the development of a “true European army” to provide the European Union defense against military threats, which he believes include Russia’s Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump.
> The French president has pushed for closer EU defence union since coming to power last year but has been so far met with limited success amid foot-dragging by other member states.
> “We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America,” Mr Macron told France’s Europe 1 radio in an interview.
> “When I see President Trump announcing that he’s quitting a major disarmament treaty which was formed after the 1980s Euro-missile crisis that hit Europe, who is the main victim? Europe and its security.”
Macron said the EU must “decide to have a true European army” if it wishes to defend itself without relying on the United States for support.
Though EU members began moving toward greater cooperation of their armed forces before Trump’s election to office, the president’s arrival on the scene has given more urgency to the cause.
> European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said last year that “deference to Nato can no longer be used as a convenient alibi to argue against greater European efforts”.
> France is the strongest and most vocal proponent of an EU army but Germany has also tentatively endorsed Mr Macron’s proposals for a joint command structure for military interventions.
> Under the new “Permanent Structured Cooperation” (Pesco) initiative legislated for in 2009 and activated in 2017, 25 of the 28 armed forces are in the process of stepping up cooperation between their militaries. Denmark, Malta and the United Kingdom have decided to opt out of the voluntary system.