17:21 GMT +316 December 2019
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    Soldiers of a Eurocorps detachment carry the European Union flag to mark the inaugural European Parliament session in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France (file)

    'Time Will Tell How EU Defense Union, NATO Will Interact' to Solve Key Tasks

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    The European Parliament voting for the creation a defense union is an attempt to signal the military sovereignty and a desire to make the US continue extending its financial support for NATO, military expert Vladimir Kozin told Sputnik.

    In an interview with Sputnik, military expert Vladimir Kozin of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, described the European Parliament voting for the creation of a defense union as an attempt to demonstrate its military sovereignty and a prod to the US to continue rendering its financial support for NATO.

    The interview came after the Foreign Affairs Committee in the European Parliament 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." The document also advocates setting up an EU operational headquarters to plan, command and control crisis management operations.

    MEPs urged EU member states 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."

    Speaking to Sputnik, Vladimir Kozin noted that Europeans attribute the creation of a defense union to what he described as irrelevant fears that the US can allegedly reduce its financial obligations towards NATO.

    In this vein, he recalled that [US President-elect] Donald Trump promised to increase ground forces and US Marines Corps by 10-12 percent for NATO. Under outgoing US President Barack Obama, a whole array of American military bases were deployed in Europe, Kozin added.

    "If Europe manages to create its own independent army, it would certainly manage these armed forces without reprimand from Washington. The Americans in turn may meet the Europeans' needs and put more of a financial investment into NATO," Kozin said.

    According to him, "time will tell how NATO and the proposed European Defense Union will interact in resolving major challenges and sharing the areas of responsibility."

    Political commentator and former diplomat Jiri Bata, for his part, told Sputnik's Czech edition that "the creation of the proposed European Defense Union will only be possible if the national armies defend the borders of their own states all by themselves."

    "In other words, a common European army must not repeat the fate of the European Union, when the bloc started to call the shots in all spheres, determining, in particular, size of cucumbers and the names of national dishes. The current Schengen remains a conglomerate which carries some values, but which added to the migration crisis and all the subsequent consequences," Bata said.

    The European Parliament vote came weeks after European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called for closer EU defense cooperation.

    In his annual State of the Union speech in September 2016 he said that "we have separate headquarters for parallel missions, even when they happen in the same country or city," and that "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," he pointed out.

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    European Union, migration crisis, challenges, responsibility, investment, army, obligations, fears, European Defense Union, NATO, United States
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