Commitment to the Military
As expected, the "Rome Declaration," signed last Saturday by the heads of states and governments of the 27 EU member countries (without Great Britain) and by the presidents of the European Council, Parliament and Commission, reaffirms the intention to assume a more offensive role in global policy - also militarily. "Taken individually, we would be side-lined by global dynamics," the document states. In the coming ten years "we want a Union" that has "the will and capacity of playing a key role in the world." The Union must therefore "assist in creating a more competitive and integrated defence industry" and be committed to "strengthening its common security and defence." Whereas several EU members - including Poland and the Baltic countries, but the Netherlands as well - are still attaching great importance to NATO - particularly in view of Berlin's predominance over the EU - the transatlantic war alliance is explicitly mentioned in the Rome Declaration, albeit in restricted terms. Thus, in the future, the Union should act "also in cooperation and complementarity with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation." The EU has priority.
From Rhetoric to Practice
While the EU is strengthening its will to militarize, some of Berlin's government advisors are continuing to apply pressure, to speed up the Union's arms buildup. Even though the rhetoric pertaining to the expansion of the EU's military policy is "impressive," Brussels is not implementing its announced steps rapidly and vigorously enough, complains the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) in a text published at the end of last week. "The more it pertains to the implementation of the muscular defense rhetoric," the more the EU focuses "on its most minute adjustment wheels." "Speaking of strength and responsibility will impress neither Moscow nor Washington," explains the DGAP further; many more practical activities must be undertaken. The think tank makes a plea for a new German-French initiative for the implementation of the measures planned last summer. Germany and France, together, account for around 40% of the EU's defense and arms capacity. This is why, after France's presidential elections, they must give the signal that - and how - this theme will be pursued in the EU."
A Europe Division
The DGAP made an initial concrete proposal, pleading for a "common defense program for the next decade, dealing with missions, procurement, capabilities and counter-terrorism." Berlin and Paris should assure that it is "equipped for around 40 billion euros," "so that it can develop a strong radiance" both "within the EU and beyond." For Germany, the DGAP proposes, in addition, that the Bundeswehr continue its initiatives of integrating entire military formations from foreign countries. The Bundeswehr has already integrated two-thirds of the Netherlands' military formations into its own units, within the framework of its cooperation with its armed forces. It has also begun to integrate a Czech and a Rumanian brigade into German divisions. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.) Germany could launch "the creation of a European formation, a sort of Europe Division," suggests the DGAP. It could "gradually, by 2020, set up an additional approx. 20.000 strong division" - "and call on the European partners to participate."
Advocate for a European Army
Over the weekend, Hungary's Foreign Minister, Peter Sziijártó expressed his approbation for such a project. He can very well imagine "that we will set up even more multinational units," affirmed Sziijártó. However, the prerequisite would be that final decisions on missions for these new units, remain with the nation states. Besides, "the European defense must be reinforced within the framework of transatlantic structures." If these conditions are met, Hungary, according to its foreign minister, "is one of the most ardent advocates of a common European army."
Brussels Financing Wars
Berlin is not the only one applying pressure to contribute more to the troops. To a growing extent, the European Parliament is also pushing. March 16, with an eye toward the EU's anniversary summit, the European Parliament passed a resolution on foreign and military policy, calling, among other things, for setting up "more multinational European structures" in the military sector. To enhance the willingness, the parliament made a plea for the Union to cover "all EU Battlegroup costs ... during the stand-up, standby and stand-down phases." It adds a proposal for a "Council format of Defence Ministers," under the presidency of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, in order "to coordinate the implementation of the common security and defense policy (CSDP) and make it more efficient." In addition, it is "essential to increase national defence expenditure to 2% of EU GDP," according to the resolution. This would mean "extra expenditure of nearly EUR 100 billion on defence by the end of the coming decade." Co-rapporteur of the European Parliament's resolution, Michael Gahler (CDU) says he is now "looking forward" to "concrete proposals" for the implementation of these projects.
"For the Better"
Whereas Berlin and Brussels are insisting on the concrete implementation of the plans to create "European" armed forces, Saturday's "Rome Declaration" merely rehashed the propaganda phraseology intended to water down the Union's militarization. The declaration speaks of a "community of peace, freedom, democracy," and "human rights." A mere glance at the EU's pervasive poverty, the military hermetization of the EU's external borders, or even the militarization of the Union itself, would expose what is really camouflaged behind the "Rome Declaration's" platitudes. "We pledge to listen and respond to the concerns expressed by our citizens," the document says. "We have united for the better. Europe is our common future."