EU Lawmakers Wary of Proposed EU Military Force
16:43 GMT 06.09.2021 (Updated: 17:15 GMT 12.04.2023)
BRUSSELS (Sputnik) - EU policymakers renewed calls for a rapid European military response force in the waning days of air evacuations from Kabul, leaving politicians on both sides of the spectrum worried about the bloc’s possible engagements abroad.
European Council President Charles Michel and EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said last week that the European Union should consider the need to develop its own collective defense capabilities, following the chaotic departure from Afghanistan.
3 September 2021, 06:18 GMT
The 27-nation bloc already has a system of EU battlegroups in place to respond to crises overseas, but it has never been called up. The idea of a cooperative EU army has been floated repeatedly in the past two decades. More recently, defense ministers weighed in on a debate about the EU's military autonomy at a meeting on Thursday, with Borrell saying that the EU needs both a combined force and a "will to act."
Drawing Lessons From Kabul Disaster
Alexander Neu of Germany’s The Left party and Armin-Paulus Hampel of the right-wing AfD said it was inconceivable that EU bosses wanted the bloc to pursue an interventionist policy after the Kabul disaster.
"It would be crazy for Europe to want to expand militarily and create a ‘credible response force.’ That is maybe what Borrell is trying to do: admit the failure to propose to be more active militarily. We failed, let’s do more of it," Hampel, the AfD’s foreign policy spokesman in parliament, said.
Neu, who is The Left’s parliamentary spokesman for defence issues, noted that EU member states had so far been unable to agree on a unified security strategy. They have set a deadline for drawing up a military doctrine by next March.
"We have decided to send military forces to intervene far away from Europe and its defence. The elite in Brussels believes that, like the USA, we, Western democracies are special; we know what the world needs and we are going to impose it by force. It is not acceptable," he said.
Roman Haider, a member of the European Parliament from the Austrian right-wing Freedom Party, thinks that the chaotic scenes in Kabul showed the "enormous overconfidence of the West."
"That the EU now stands up and demands an even more ambitious intervention policy after this disaster is a bit reminiscent of a loss of reality," he said, adding that European interventionism would lead only to further migrant flows from war-torn countries.
© REUTERS / US MARINESEvacuees walk to be processed during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, August 25, 2021. Picture taken August 25, 2021
Evacuees walk to be processed during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, August 25, 2021. Picture taken August 25, 2021
© REUTERS / US MARINES
EU vs NATO?
Lawmakers echoed the concerns of NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, who warned in an interview with the Telegraph over the weekend that a European military force could divert scarce resources from the US-led alliance.
Hambel said that proposals to create parallel military structures and duplicate the command structure were "ridiculous." He argued that NATO has proved to be efficient over time and Europe needed to have more leverage within it.
"We must concentrate on NATO’s basic defence treaty and have more efficient European voices in it. It is not the mission of NATO or of a potential European force to interfere worldwide," he argued.
Thierry Mariani, a French member of the European Parliament from Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, said that a unified European force would ultimately become a money drain and dilute France’s influence in Europe as the only capable national army, effectively depriving it of the "last small point of pre-eminence" over Germany.
"This idea does not hold water at all. France is the only country in the EU that has nuclear weapons. France sits on the UN Security Council. To enter a European intervention force would be to dissolve the French Defence. It would create a German-dominated Europe," he said.