The president of the European Commission and former head of government for Luxembourg is proposing the formation of a European Union army to confront growing security issues in the region.
Saying this military force would “help us design a common foreign and security policy,” Jean-Claude Juncker also warned during an interview with German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, according to the Guardian, that Europe isn’t “taken entirely seriously” by Russia. Juncker says he believes that the absence of an EU army is one of the primary reasons why the union of 28 member states has failed to broker successful peace accords in Ukraine or stop pro-Russian separatists in the country’s east — who many say are being supplied and aided by Moscow and President Vladimir Putin despite multiple denials by Russia.
Juncker says “a common army among the Europeans would convey to Russia that we are serious about defending the values of the European Union.”
The army would not only defend member states, Juncker said, but also neighboring states — a reference to war-torn Ukraine who is not a member of the EU.
His incipient proposal for a European military force, however, will face ardent and fierce opposition, particularly from those member countries who routinely criticize the European Union’s spending and encroachment on their sovereignty.
The most likely opposer: the United Kingdom.
British Prime Minister David Cameron shares a rocky relationship with Juncker and often throws red meat to the more conservative factions of his party, usually when his poll numbers plummet, by bashing the European Commission president and his policies. Funding the creation of an EU army would be no exception.
Both Britain and France could also harbor fears of an EU army undermining NATO, an organization in which the two countries are some of the most influential players.
But from Germany, Juncker’s idea is receiving support from a considerably powerful member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet.
German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, whom many consider a potential successor to Merkel, tells Deutschlandfunk, according to the Financial Times, that the “interweaving of armies, with the perspective of one day having a European Army, is, in my opinion, the future.”
Although not as powerful as Germany, Baltic member states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania could also support some variant of an EU security force as they worry about possible Russian incursions into their own territories.