European Commission President Ursula von der Layen said the European Union should seek to strengthen its own military capabilities to counter security threats and global crises.
She told the European Parliament that she believed that EU military forces could be “part of the solution”.
After the withdrawal of American and allied forces from Afghanistan after a 20-year mission, the EU needs “political will” to intervene militarily without a US-led NATO, she says.
France will host the EU defense summit next year, she added.
“It is time for Europe to move to the next level,” Von der Layen said in her annual address on the state of the Union.
The EU has historically relied on NATO for military action.
The rapid collapse of the Afghan government has raised questions about the EU’s ability to pursue its own defense policy.
German Defense Minister Anegret Kramp-Karenbauer said earlier this month that the EU should become a “strategic player to be reckoned with”.
In the past, French President Emanuel Macron supported the idea of a European army.
The departure of Great Britain from the EU gave an additional incentive to that, because it feared duplication with NATO forces.
“Lack of political will”
The President of the European Commission said that the EU must ensure greater stability in its environment and elsewhere, by participating in missions that do not include NATO and the United Nations.
She also had to share intelligence and become a leader in cyber security.
What has hampered the EU so far is not “just a lack of capacity – it’s a lack of political will,” she explained.
“You can have the most advanced forces in the world – but if you are never ready to use them, what are the benefits?” she told MEPs in Strasbourg.
An EU diplomat described the notion of an active EU defense force as “unsuccessful”, reports the BBC’s Brussels correspondent Jessica Parker.
She says that there is great skepticism, even resentment, in some parts about the idea that has been discussed for a long time.
Proposals for EU rapid reaction forces first appeared in the 1990s.
The so-called battle groups of 1,500 soldiers from each member state were created in 2007.
The battle groups were declared ready for operations, but were never used due to funding disputes and reluctance to deploy.
Most EU countries are also members of NATO, and some, especially the countries neighboring Russia, do not want to break ties with the United States.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said this month that he supported the EU’s plans to build a common defense policy, but warned that no new military forces would be created.
A joint declaration with NATO will be adopted by the end of the year, added von der Layen.
What else did Ursula von der Layen say?
- The EU will “stand by the Afghan people” and increase humanitarian aid for Afghanistan for 100 million euros;
- The upcoming summit COP26 on climate in Glasgow it would be a “moment of truth for the global community.” She called on the United States and China – the world’s biggest polluters – to respond to their own commitments to tackle climate change;
- Fight against pandemije Kovida-19 is “a marathon, not a sprint.” She announced additional funding and donations of vaccines to low-income countries to ensure that “this will not turn into a pandemic of the unvaccinated”;
- Beloruska the government “instrumentalized” migrants by sending them to the borders of EU countries. She accused Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of “a hybrid attack to destabilize Europe”;
- The European Commission will develop a new one “Ecosystem” for chip production, to make the EU competitive and self – sufficient.
Watch the video: Is Belarus creating a new migrant crisis in Europe?
Source: Dnevni list Danas by www.danas.rs.
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