EU army: should Europe create its own military alliance?
By Daniel J. McLaughlin
While European countries co-operate in terms of defence and security, there is currently no EU army - and there are no plans to create one.
Despite this, Emmanuel Macron argues that there is a need for a "real European army" - with the EU defending itself better alone, rather than relying on the United States.
However, the incoming European Commission president has rejected claims that there will be a military alliance in the bloc.
In an opinion piece for Foreign Policy, Azeem Ibrahim says that Europe is "ready for its own army".
He argues that European leaders are considering how to cope with "a resurgent empire to the east, and a fading - and no longer friendly - superpower in the west".
Under these conditions, Ibrahim notes, a "real European army could emerge for the first time".
He writes: "Some quarters of Europe, most prominently in French defense circles, have long aspired to a continental military force powerful enough to grant Europe a degree of autonomy in global affairs proportionate to its population and level of economic development."
Emmanuel Macron has suggested that there is a need for a "real European army".
The French president said in November: "I believe in a project of a sovereign Europe, a powerful Europe. We won’t protect Europeans if we don’t settle on having a real European Army."
He added: "We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America."
However, Ursula von der Leyen has "crushed" Macron's EU army dreams, according to the Express.
The incoming European Commission president has ruled out the creation of a military alliance in the EU.
She said that NATO - the existing military alliance between 29 North American and European countries - is their essential defence organisation.
NATO was founded in the aftermath of the Second World War - initially starting with 12 countries in 1949. Members of the military alliance commit to spending two per cent of their GDP on defence.
Von der Leyen said: "The European Union will never be a military alliance. Nato will always be our collective defence."
Despite Macron's comments, there are no formal plans to create an EU army.
According to the European Parliament, there is no EU army and "defence remains exclusively a matter for member states".
Full Fact reports that there have been false claims about an EU army, saying that the UK would not be forced to participate in EU military policies.
The fact-checking website explains that the bloc does have various policies for defence and security co-operation.
Full Fact writes: "For example, under the Common Security and Defence Policy, EU countries can pool military funding and resources. The UK participates in military operations through this policy.
"The EU has also established Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) a strategy which aims to “jointly develop defence capabilities and make them available for EU military operations” which the UK has chosen not to participate in."
A Eurobarometer survey in 2017 found that three quarters of Europeans (75 per cent) are in favour of a common EU defence and security policy.
The survey also found that over half (55 per cent) were in favour of the creation of an EU army.