European Military To Become Alternative to NATO

The EU intends to establish a joint European military

The idea of establishing a joint European military is still rather unclear. The EU will have to overcome a number of serious problems among members, as well as between "old Europe" and "new Europe" to make a joint military a reality. Nevertheless, the paragraph on the establishment of the European army was added in the draft EU Constitution last week. This does not give all answers to the questions linked with the European military: how it is intended to cooperate with NATO, how the financial system will be organized, how it is planned to overcome contradictions within the EU regarding the idea in general, etc.

There is nothing astonishing about the idea of a European military. As soon as the EU started working toward integration, it was supposed to have some armed forces of its own as well. The armed forces is one of the most important institutions of any state. The EU is not an exception, despite all peculiarities the union experiences. 

It is clear why NATO is not happy with several EU members, with France and Germany, first and foremost. The US plays the leading role in the alliance. That is why it would be strange to expect Washington to give up the leadership. The US has been guaranteed Europe's security for the past 60 years - it is not ready to give way to the growing ambition of the EU, or several EU members, to be more precise. To crown it all, the funding of the alliance presumably depends on Washington too. Last year, NATO's budget exceeded $1.5 billion. America's share in the budget was 29 percent. German's share was 23 percent and Great Britain's - 13 percent. Thus, other states did not provide even half of NATO's budget. The USA will never agree to decrease its influence in the alliance because of this reason.

The European military will definitely be relieved of America's dictatorship. The EU leadership will not have to coordinate its actions with Washington on all occasions. On the other hand, there will be an opportunity for the EU to disregard certain American actions, Iraq for example. 

The proponents of the European military emphasize that it will not be a competition or a substitute for the alliance. However, such affirmations do not sound convincing. It goes without saying that the funds for the establishment of the European military will be assigned by the most economically developed members of the European Union (Germany and France, first and foremost). Yet, neither of these countries intend to stop contibuting to NATO's budget. The USA is not intended to fund the alliance alone - American officials have said this many times. Will Berlin and Paris be funding the European military to the detriment of their obligations in NATO? It is hard to believe that. Furthermore, it is not known, how much the establishment of the joint military will cost Europeans. Projects usually become more expensive during  implementation stages.

There is no common opinion regarding the idea of the European army either. France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg support it. Great Britain is against the "splitting of NATO" although it accepts the idea of the united European armed forces to participate in the operations, where NATO troops cannot be used. Italy, Spain and "new Europe" with Poland at the head stand against the creation of the military structure parallel to NATO. How can this structure be established under such conditions?

France and Germany may create a prototype of the future European military based on its own armed forces. Then it may wait for other states to join. How long will it have to wait, though? Moreover, what is going to happen to the prototype if the CDU-CSU opposition comes to power n Germany (the opposition is aimed at the cooperation with the USA on all international issues).

The perspective of the joint European military is rather vague at the moment, although the question has been put on the agenda of the EU's Constitution. Yet, it is simply a project that can be changed any time. 

Author`s name Olga Savka