Researchers from the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies and German Council on Foreign Relations have prepared a study, which paints a grim picture for the creation of a European army. According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine, citing the research, the paper, which will soon be presented in Brussels, shows a significant discrepancy between the EU states' ambitions about such an army, and their real capabilities to create and sustain it.
The researchers created models of future possible encounters for the planned European army and it turned out that existing EU states' forces will only be able to comfortably sustain relief missions and will hardly be able to afford major operations, involving weeks-long encounters with support from the sea and air.
The forecast gets even worse if you take the UK out of the picture (in case it decides to abstain from the initiative following Brexit). According to the paper, the EU currently lacks military personnel, resources, and proper structure of military command in order to create the planned 60,000-strong army capable of deployment within 60 days. The EU faces shortages of paramedics, de-mining experts, and military police necessary for lengthy missions.
Another EU ambition, which failed the researchers' stress test, was the ability to deploy and conduct several military operations at once. Such a requirement was set back in 2008 and according to the study, the existing EU capabilities can only satisfy a third of what is required to conduct several operations simultaneously, meaning it could not even do so for a short period of time.
Frankfurter Allgemeine stresses that, judging by the study's conclusions, the EU will be able to create its own security forces in the long term, but only with the help of its transatlantic partners, such as the US.
The idea of creating a European army is not new and was first voiced by French Prime Minister Rene Pleven in 1950 in response to the idea of rearming West Germany. Most recently, the idea was resurrected by French President Emmanuel Macron, who called for creation of the 'real European army' in November. The idea was later endorsed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel during her speech at the European Parliament.