Reviving EU Army formation proposal mirrors EU's weakness

TEHRAN, Sep. 07 (MNA) –Referring to the revival of debates over the formation of the EU army following US withdrawal from Afghanistan Dr. Pastori touched on the bloc's weakness, saying Borell's proposal faces political and financial difficulites.

Once again, the US withdrawal from Afghanistan has raised many debates about the necessity of forming a European Army for more strategic autonomy of the bloc. 

'strategic autonomy' means greater potential for independence, self-reliance, and resilience in a wide range of fields including defense, trade, economic and monetary policy. A series of events in recent years have attached importance to the issue more than ever.  

The latest development that once again reminded the Europeans of the importance of more strategic autonomy was the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. European countries had no option but to pull out of Afghanistan along with the US despite their desire to keep their troops in Afghanistan in order not to let the country fall into the Taliban’s hands. 

US unilateral actions in recent years including Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) despite EU opposition have also highlighted the importance of the issue.
Some believe that series of US unilateral actions both by democratic president Joe Biden and former republican Donald Trump implicitly have indicated that the US priorities are different from the Europeans so Europe should take necessary steps for more autonomy, while others don't think so.

In an interview, the issue was discussed with political science associate professor of Milan Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Dr. Pastori Gianluca.

Following are his comments: 

"The debate on European strategic autonomy is an old one, dating back to the end of the Cold War. Since the 1990s, many efforts have been made to create a ‘European army’, and the issue has been repeatedly raised at the EU level and from several member states. During Donald Trump’s presidency, the topic received special attention in the light of what seemed to be the decline of US commitment to NATO and European security. After the US hastily withdrawal from Afghanistan, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, relaunched the idea of establishing a ‘European army’, adding to the project a new sense of urgency. After US withdrawal from Afghanistan, Josep Borrell relaunched the idea of establishing a European army, adding to the project a new sense of urgency

Outside this long-term perspective, Borrel’s proposal can sound intriguing. However, it faces the same difficulties that other similar proposals faced in the past. At the political level, the contrasting visions existing among the EU members make it difficult to find an agreement on who, in the new structure, should play the leading role(s). Moreover, a sizeable part of the members still prefers to retain a strong bond with the US because they see it as an essential political partner or the best guarantor of their military security. Finally, on the financial side, no country is ready to ‘pay the bill’ of greater European autonomy while at the same time remaining in NATO.

Borrell's proposal faces the same difficulties that other similar proposals faced in the past and mirrors great weakness  of EU's ambitionsThis is a central aspect. For one reason or the other, no European country is ready to leave NATO, and any ‘European army’ must be conceived in a context where NATO is – and will remain – dominant. Currently, the EU can perform its military missions using NATO’s assets within the so-called ‘Berlin Plus’ framework (2002). This state of things is not entirely satisfactory and configures only limited EU’s strategic autonomy. However, the EU’s own capabilities are limited, and there is no perspective to overcome such a limit in the short-to-medium term, especially when more pressing needs conjure against any significant increase in military spending.

Finally, there is the point of what should be the tasks of this possible ‘European army’. The idea of a large-scale European military presence in Afghanistan instead of the US seems – at best – overambitious, especially given the county’s current politico-military situation. On this background, Borrel’s proposal mirrors the greatest weakness of the EU’s military ambitions, viz their essentially ‘emotional’ character. The call for greater European strategic autonomy regularly emerges only in times of crisis: an element that affects the definition of credible long-term policies and negatively impacts the chances to place EU-US relations on a sounder and more equitable basis."

Interview by Payman Yazdani

News Code 178349


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