Merkel: EU army still a long way off

2015-03-10 13:36


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Berlin - German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave her support on Monday to a new push to forge a European army in the wake of the outbreak of tensions with Russia.

The chancellor is in favour of a "deeper military cooperation in Europe", government spokesperson Christiane Wirtz said.

But Wirtz insisted that Berlin saw the proposal, which was revived at the weekend by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, as a "future project" without any concrete plans for its launch.

A spokesperson for the European Commission defended Juncker's remarks calling for the European Union to create its own army, saying that the EU treaty allows for the pooling and sharing of national resources.

"It makes sense to get EU member states to combine military and defence capabilities to make spending more efficient in times of fiscal consolidation," Margaritis Schinas said, pointing also to the fact that there is "geopolitical uneasiness around us".

"We have studies that show that the potential from such cooperation [in] the European defence sector could lead to savings of up to €120bn a year," he added.

Schinas said these issues will be discussed by EU leaders at a summit due to be held in Brussels on 25 June - 26 June.

"Such an army would help us to shape a common foreign and security policy and to seize together Europe's responsibility in the world," Juncker told the weekly German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.

"You do not have a European army to deploy it immediately. But a common army of Europeans would convey to Russia that we are serious about the defence of EU values," he added.

German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen also backed on Sunday the EU army plan, calling in an interview with German radio for increased links between the German military and other European armed forces.

Relations between Moscow and the West have sunk to their lowest level since the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990's in the wake of the crisis surrounding Ukraine.

But the revival of the idea of an EU army has already met with resistance in some of the bloc's member states.

On Monday, Germany's environmentalist Greens added their name to the list of opponents with the party's leader Simone Peter dismissing the proposal as saber-rattling in the face of Russian military aggression.

Echoing Merkel's view, she said: "A European army is a long way off."

Read more on:    angela merkel  |  russia  |  ukraine

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