An Italian General has suggested that now is the time for the EU to realise the ambition of a European military now that Brexit is underway.

General Vincenzo Camporini, former chief of the general staff in charge of Italy’s military, has elsewhere asserted that building an EU Army would be easier now that Britain had decided to opt out.

He told La Repubblica newspaper:

“Every step forward was blocked by the British. The British position was crucial – everyone knew that without London, you couldn’t even begin to talk about a common European defence policy.”

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has insisted that an EU Army is required:

“I am convinced that in the long term we won’t be able to do without a common European army,” he told a meeting of Czech diplomats in Prague on Monday, the Daily Mail has reported. He added that the new army must not compete with NATO, but should aim to be a more actionable and reliable partner.”

According to DefenseNews, Camporini also said that declining UK capabilities meant that a lack of British involvement was no longer a problem.

“If anyone had proposed building a European capability in 1999 without the UK, I would have said they were crazy, but during the last few years, UK governments have been greedy with the peace dividend and they gave up their sea projection capability, which they will not get back before their new carriers arrive.”

It should be noted that the British Armed Forces comprise the Royal Navy, a blue-water navy with a comprehensive and advanced fleet; the Royal Marines, a highly specialised amphibious light infantry force; the British Army, the UK’s principal land warfare force; and the Royal Air Force, with a diverse operational fleet consisting of modern fixed-wing and rotary aircraft.

The country is a major participant in NATO and other coalition operations and is also party to the Five Power Defence Arrangements. Recent operations have included Afghanistan and Iraq, peacekeeping operations in the Balkans and Cyprus, intervention in Libya and again operations over Iraq and Syria.

Overseas defence facilities are maintained at Ascension Island, Belize, Brunei, Canada, Diego Garcia, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Kenya, Bahrain and Cyprus.

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Steve
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Steve

This could be good news for us.

Right now the only real country we have to buy high tech gear from is the US due to economy of scales. A EU army would no doubt mean common purchases and so EU based defense gear, allowing us to choose between home grown gear vs us and eu options.

jon livesey
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jon livesey

The only really advanced European project I can think of is stealth drones, which are a bilateral project between the UK and France that would go forward with or without the EU.

With all due respect, I think this a non-story. Some Italian General talking about an EU army isn’t all that significant.

John K.
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John K.

Just for your information Mr Livesey. The MALE project is a joint German-France-Italy project and most of the UK industrial military assets (Selex and Westland) are owned by an Italian company (Leonardo, former Finmeccanica). BR

Stuart Willard
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I tnink you might just be forgetting the largest defence company in Europe (amongst other companies) and of course the UK is one of the few European countries to be devoting 2% of its GNP to defence. Only France is comparable in what it can offer all round and seriously an Italian General is hardly one to speak of relative military contributions.

Chris B
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Chris B

This is not at all good news for us. For hundreds of years Britain’s foreign policy was to support the weaker powers in Europe against the strongest to maintain a power balance insuring that no one country/entity would control the whole continent. Once a country was at that stage they would be too powerful for Britain to deal with. We fought wars upon wars upon wars for this to be maintained. Now it is going to happen without a bullet being fired, written in to law by some pencil pushers in Brussels. Of course we are close friends and allies… Read more »

Dave Stone
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Dave Stone

Europe struggled to find an extra battalion to bolster the east so good luck with that.

Julian
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Julian

I don’t see why some of the press are so outraged about this. UK won’t be part of it, wouldn’t have been even if no Brexit because we had an opt-out, but it would give us a single command structure to interface with on joint exercises rather than lots of different national forces. It sounds like good news to me. Reports I’ve seen have even mentioned English as the working language if it ever happens. What’s not to like from a UK (or USA) perspective?

Steve
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Steve

What’s not to like from a US perspective, is that a european army could challenge the US role as the king of NATO and be a serious challenger to US general position as the sole global superpower.

Steve
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Steve

I guess the same is the case why the UK wouldn’t want it, as it would make the UK less important on a global stage. The involvement of the UK would not be interesting, since europe could operate on its own and when coalitions are needed the US and EU would be strong enough not to need the UK.

Julian
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Julian

Re your first comment about the USA I think you might have fallen into the same trap that I was in myself when I first started looking at defence issues and that is to not fully connect with just how dominant the US military is. It used to be the top 20 but now I think it is “only” the top 15 or so. Take the top 15 countries in the world ranked by defence spending. The USA is the biggest. If all the other 14 countries were to combine into a single force (which includes China, Russia, Saudi Arabia,… Read more »

Steve
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Steve

For starters defense budgets are insanely misleading, as you have to adjust them for cost of living in the local country, cost of production etc etc. Then you have to consider things like Afgan/Iraq war where a considerably less advanced opposition effectively won the war. Or look at our own Falkland war, where on paper we should have walked it but in reality we were very close to losing. There is also the reality that its a big planet. Look at what is going on in the south china sea, today the US is losing its ability to enforce its… Read more »

Steve
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Steve

p.s. don’t get my wrong, today America is still the most powerful nation and is able to a point to enforce its will on any other country, but this isn’t about today, its about 10 or 20 years in the future.

Stuart Willard
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There is no chance whatsoever that a European army would be anywhere near on the scale (in so many measures) of the US of even Russia in any foreseeable future. Britain always opposed it despite a certain logic because it saw it as a weakening of NATO without any potential to Mach its impact of firepower. It would only be a perceived unity with very little likelihood of political let alone structural unity when put under pressure. This would stretch from decision making strategically or even on who or how material would be produced and by whom, as nearly all… Read more »

jon livesey
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jon livesey

What’s not to like from a UK/US perspective is that in NATO, European armed forces can be held to some level of performance and doctrine. If a European Army worked the same way, that would be OK, but there are people in the EU whose ambition runs ahead of their ability to perform.

Steve
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Steve

Ambition is as worrying as ability though. The big question is whether the EU countries really could integrate fully. Having a EU standing army where each country retains also its own independent army, will result in something that is smaller than the sum of its parts, because you will end up with a lot of duplication. For them to to be able to create something, that is bigger than the sum of their parts, they would need to go all in and fully integrate, resulting in loss of individual control and realistically loss in employment in certain countries. The idea… Read more »

Steve
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Steve

There is also the amusing part that Czech Republic and Hungary are calling for this, both of which are spending almost half of the NATO 2% requirement on defence. So what they want is an effective defence but for someone else to pay for it.

Dave Stone
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Dave Stone

I think that last sentence sums it up in a nutshell

Dan
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Dan

It’s always been slightly odd why Britain was so opposed rather than one of the leading supporters. In the days when there were significant colonial commitments and especially post 1945 when th Indian Army was no longer available it would be understandable, as we would have had to have a second force available for purely UK interests but post pull out from Aden in 1967 they were pretty much gone, (we were never going to seriously defend HK, and the Islands that must not be named are the exception). After that a fully integrated EU force would have benefits to… Read more »

Geoffrey Roach
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Geoffrey Roach

There’s a Spaniard,a Frenchman, An Italian and a Greek, all in a European army and all their governments have to decide is who is in command. Interesting politically!

Michael
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Michael

As to the Falklands war and “walking it” where did that come from? Everyone else including the US at the time thought it was impossible

John
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John

The only way to have a proper integrated EU army is for the 27 remaining EU members to renounce their individual identities and become The United states of Europe, have one government and no internal borders. As if that is ever going to happen

david
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david

What do we care if they do go down this road. The EU cannot afford to do it. It would require countries to increase their defence spending quite considerably, something they have been unprepared to do under Nato. As to the accusation that the UK has over played the peace dividend, maybe we have but no where near as much as other EU nations, and at least we are starting to put right some of the issues. Don’t see the Italians or Germans doing that.

Another EU dreamland project, Ill believe it when I see it.

Mr J B
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Mr J B

An EU army is a dangerous occurrence. If EU wants to go down this route there is danger: 1) Dilution of NATO capability- the EU army will no doubt involve units, army battle groups, ships, air force squadrons being double tasked meaning for NATO deployment and within the EU force structure at the same time- huge headache for command and control 2) EU spends nearly 50% equivalence to USA defence budget- yet I think at last expert consideration only achieved 13% of the USA’s strategic capabilities- that is not very impressive.- this is because all the major EU nations want… Read more »

cripes
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cripes

What a panic from the UK about a ‘European Army’! The EU has run something like 10 military ops outside NATO, including Kosovo, Mali, Libya, Somali pirates, etc. This because the US has made it clear that the EU needs to police its own backyard, which includes the Mediterranean littoral, not expect the Yanks to do everything for us. They will come to help if there is a serious issue, particularly with Russia – though Trump may upend that doctrine. The command and control issue is not an insoluble one. Until now, national forces CHOP to NATO when mobilised, it… Read more »

cripes
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cripes

This idea that the EU will have to have an integrated/unitary political structure before an EU army can work effectively is an odd one. NATO does not have an integrated political structure yet works fine! It doesn’t have issues with whether a Frenchman, German, Greek etc commands an entity, it is commanded by the ally making the largest force contribution or by the senior officer in the force. That has all worked perfectly smoothly for 60 years. Close co-operation between the defence industries of France and Germany, increasingly involving Spain, Italy and others, is already creating a de facto common… Read more »