In this edition of U-talk – “How about one European army? I can see at least two benefits for EU member states: you can cut defence spending and speak as one voice on the diplomatic scene. What do you think?” asks Simon in France.
The response to this question is provided by Jean-Pierre Maulny, from the Institute for International and Strategic Relations, in Paris:
“Things are a little more complicated than that, just because to have one European army you need to have a common foreign policy. When the UN held its vote on the recognition of Palestine, European states were divided. They were also divided on the recognition of Kosovo. Even now, we can’t really say there has been a broadly shared foreign policy.
“Then we need to have a common understanding of how to use our armed forces. Here, we can take the example of Mali, where the French are heavily involved but where there is no other European partner with troops on the ground, even if some are offering logistical support.
“Finally, we can look back at the practical lessons we have experienced in the past. For example, in 1989, the creation of a Franco-German brigade was a highly integrated example of what was a kind of mini-European army. Almost immediately, we found ourselves confronted with several very, very practical problems: the French and the Germans did not speak the same language, and the French and German soldiers did not all speak English. The statutes of the German military are not the same as the articles of the French military, in regard either their right to express concern or to state-pensions.
“Today, Europe has three different types of fighter-plans, around six different kinds of frigates, and 17 different kind of tanks. Naturally, when there are so many different types of military apparatus,
it is not ideal for interoperability between armies.
Then you will ask me: ‘Is it true, things aren’t moving?’ And I would say things are moving, just very slowly.”
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