European Defence

Towards a European army?

, by Translated by Oronzo Daloiso, Luc Picot

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Towards a European army?

Nine years after the Saint-Malo summit and the first fruits of a true European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), EU Member States face the revival of the integration process in the domain of defence. Such revival can only be carried out within the framework of an ambition which is able to mobilise military and political actors as well as citizens.

Based on this observation, the necessity of a European army among Member States is more and more pressing.

This appeal responds to a triple challenge:

 Remobilise Europeans around a political project

 Create an institution which enables European peoples to federate

 Responde to a real need for the security of Europe

The creation of a European army shall not hide the institutional crisis of the Union. It is a political project based on an analysis of the actual needs of the Union in terms of security. The European army responds to strategic objectives of defence and security for European nations.

These objectives cannot emerge before the editing of a white paper on finalities and means of ESDP. At the hands of such issues, the European army is the most coherent answer to the new difficulties that this white paper shall try to solve.


A new approach to ESDP shall be done by defining precise and realisable aims. Such aims shall then be assigned to both the EU and Member States:

 The first objective of ESDP is to ensure collective security to Member States at the hands of interference by a Great Power outside the EU. European defence shall have sufficient credibility in order to substitute on a long-term basis the role assigned to NATO, which is to ensure stability in the European continent. As a result of history, European Member States do not accept any guarantee of security or military tutorship coming from another European nation. The fear of a directory of the big countries is still there (it seems conceivable that the Polish would entrust their security to the Germans). This is why such security guarantee is always ensured by the United States.

The only European answer to this historical problem is to commit the collective security of European nations to a supranational body which is not extra-European. The European army seems then to be the only solution.

 The second objective of ESDP is to keep peace on the whole European continent. The stabilisation of the Balkan region shall be a priority for the EU. Such a mission implies a long-term engagement of our military forces. These forces stationed in Bosnia and Kosovo could be a test for a fully integrated European army.

 The third objective of ESDP is to enable the EU to play a major role in the UN peace-keeping missions. Current crises (Darfur, Somalia, etc.) show how important it is for Europe to possess military capabilities, large enough to be able to intervene everywhere in the world and on multiple fields at the same time. Managing deep political crises asks for competences which only a European army could obtain (big European armies got to the limits of their available means).

 The fourth objective of ESDP is to answer to strategic disruptions that started a decade ago. If the Cold war turned Europe into the main Warfield for half a century, it is not the case anymore since the Kosovo war.

The primary objective of European armies is no longer territorial defence in case of a continental war.

Nowadays, military issues of the 21st century are far from the European continent. Asia appears as the new centre of world geostrategy. Europe will be able to respond militarily to the tensions of this region if it becomes, following the example of the US, a maritime Great Power. The ability of armies to project themselves far from their bases constitutes a determining element of power in the 21st century. Europe will influence this region only if it creates a capability of power projection which is credible enough. Only a European army is likely to keep international peace. The European army is again the only solution to responding to the new geostrategic challenges.

The European army shall be a supranational institution open to countries wishing to accede.


The formation of a European army will be the solution for responding to the new tasks of ESDP. The more its efficacy is constant, the more interesting it will appear. In fact, the European army will result in less military expenditure for Member States. With the same economic allowance, Europe will be able to do better by offering more operational conditions to its army as well as an intervention capability in all strategic areas.

This army cannot be a mere addition of Member States military forces. The European army shall be a supranational institution open to countries wishing to accede. The most engaged states shall be a pioneer group. No blockade of other countries shall be sustained to strangle the birth of a European army.

The need to form a European army

The governments of Member States need to define a veritable European white paper on ESDP. Such paper shall assign tasks to the EU and accomplish the harmonisation of national strategic documents of the main European armies.

The white paper shall also fix quantified tasks for the implementation of European military programmes and reach an effective interoperability of Member States’ armies. It is a prerequisite for the formation of a real military tool at the service of the Union.

Conscious of Member States’ bond to NATO, the formation of a pillar of European defence within the Atlantic organisation becomes necessary as only a stable partnership between the two institutions allows ESDP tasks to be carried out.

In the field of security and defence policy, Europe will have to deal with solutions allowing success to its objectives. In order for Europe to play a key role in world affairs, the possession of a military tool is essential. Such a tool can only be shaped as a European army.

Image taken from blog de Lionel Luttenbacher.

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