As soon as talks between French and German leaders came to an end on June 19, France’s minister of defense, Florence Parly, stated there’d been progress in building up the joint European defense system. Sciences Po and Sorbonne professor Christophe Réveillard has overturned her optimistic claims, saying the concept of a Europe-wide joint army is non-original and would copy NATO documents. According to the scholar, the current programs can be called fully European, as they imply cooperation among four countries at most. Réveillard told Sputnik that the production plan of the defense industry doesn’t apply to the whole European Union.
“What’s called the European projects are the projects involving four states at the most, as only several European countries have an army complex powerful enough,” he told the media.
The French scholar also dissolved claims concerning joint strategy, stating that the European Union was unable to work out such a plan.
“The strategy, proposed by [EU chief diplomat] copies the strategy by [High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy] Javier Solana, which is in fact a NATO copy-paste. If you are building up a defense system, you need to work out a strategy first of all. And we have none,” Réveillard told Sputnik.
The professor called the proposal “half-measures” and “a ploy,” pointing out at the regulations of combat operations.
"The single valuable proposal of having a 50,000-strong strike force has faded away, as it lost support [within the EU], but was adopted later by NATO, which implemented it,” the scholar contended.
Réveillard told Sputnik that the French military is skeptical about the idea of joint forces.
“When you ask the French military, taking part in the overseas operations about the all-European forces, taking into account that five out of 10 operations would be ones in cooperation with NATO, they laugh in your face. They ask why the European defense system is needed, if what we are doing within the NATO works out. What’s the purpose if it’s going to turn out worse than cooperation with the EU and the European uncoordinated armies,” he concluded.
In June 2017, the bloc brought a 70-year-old European Defense Community ambition into life, as the European Commission decided to launch the 5 billion euro European Defense Fund, designed to supplement member states’ defense research and support EU countries in obtaining military equipment. Shortly thereafter, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that Europe could no longer "outsource" its defense in a changing global landscape and had to take the matter in its own hands.
In November, the bloc's member states signed a joint declaration calling upon the European Council to adopt a decision establishing a Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) on defense, which would allow both to increase the volume of investments on military technologies and step up the level of coordination in this area within Europe.
The commitments signed so far by 25 EU countries include a “successive medium-term increase in defense investment expenditures to 20 percent of total defense spending in order to fill strategic capability gaps,” and “increasing the share of expenditure allocated to defense research and technology with a view to nearing the 2 percent of total defense spending.”
However, such initiatives encountered criticism from the UK as the country has repeatedly warned that common defense forces could undermine NATO.