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    Defense Union? EU Flexes Military Muscles in Shadow of NATO

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    Members of the European Parliament have approved plans to create an "advanced European defense policy" with plans for an "EU operational headquarters" to plan, command and manage operations in what is seen by critics as an attempt to undermine NATO, which is currently hosting a meeting of defense ministers.

    The Foreign Affairs Committee in the European Parliament has approved a key report on the European Defense Union (EDU), calling for more systematic defense co-operation between EU Member States. The resolution asks the European Council to lead the creation of a "common Union defense policy and to provide additional financial resources ensuring its implementation." 

    It also advocates setting up an EU operational headquarters to plan, command and control crisis management operations. MEPs urged EU member states to aim to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense and to establish "multinational forces within the Permanent Structured Cooperation and make these forces available to the common security and defense policy."

    "The security environment in the European Union's neighborhood has worsened dramatically in recent years. This means that Europe, in order to defend itself and increase its security, must do more. To be stronger,we need to advance a European Defense policy that complements NATO and takes the responsibility of protecting our interests and the European way of life," said parliamentary rapporteur Urmas Paet.

    The vote comes weeks after European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called for closer EU defense cooperation. In his annual State of the Union speech, September, he said:

    "We have separate headquarters for parallel missions, even when they happen in the same country or city. It is time we had a single headquarters for these operations.

    "We should also move towards common military assets, in some cases owned by the EU. And, of course, in full complementarity with NATO. The Lisbon Treaty enables those member states who wish, to pool their defense capabilities in the form of a permanent structured cooperation. I think the time to make use of this possibility is now."

    'Wishful Thinking'

    However, critics — such as Colonel Bob Stewart, now a British member of parliament, who was the Military Assistant to the NATO and Colonel as Chief of Policy to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe — say the idea that Brussels is centralizing EU military assets under its own headquarters will undermine NATO.

    "NATO works and has proved itself as a European Defense Treaty. That is self-evident. It has kept the peace in Europe almost since the Second World War.  I cannot see any need for duplication. It is pandering to European aggrandizement and wishful thinking," he said in his blog.

    ​"NATO is perfectly adaptable and can deploy in a European configuration if necessary as it has done on several occasions. Many of our European Union partners are very 'wobbly' on paying for defense. They don't contribute their proper dues to NATO already and I certainly don't think they would not do so properly for any EU Army. Finally, I believe any EU Army would be 'Trojan Horse' in the drive to reach a European Union super state which I certainly do not want."

    Related:

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    UK Defense Secretary Says No Consensus Reached in EU on Creation of Single Army
    'We Say No to EU Army': UK Vetoes Brussels' Plan for European NATO Equivalent
    Baltic States, Poland Up in Arms Over Creation of 'EU Army'
    Tags:
    European defense, EU army, European army, defense, security, Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), NATO, European Parliament, Jean-Claude Juncker, Europe
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