The European Union expects to create its own armed forces by 2022. Such a need arose in connection with the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan: this event made obvious the serious dependence of Europe on America. NATO believes that the creation of such an army will undermine the relations of the European Union with the North Atlantic Alliance and the United States.
NATO has criticized the proposal to create a common armed forces by the European Union. As the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Alliance Jens Stoltenberg said , such initiatives run the risk of weakening NATO and discord in Europe. He added that he welcomed European defense efforts, but “this can never replace NATO.”
“We need to ensure that Europe and North America stick together. Any attempt to weaken the North American-European bond will not only weaken NATO, but also divide Europe. It is partly a matter of money, as 80% of our defense spending comes from non-EU allies, ”the Sunday Telegraph quoted Stoltenberg as saying.
According to NATO, the alliance, in which countries outside the European Union (Norway, Great Britain, Iceland), as well as Turkey, Canada and the United States are represented, plays a key role in ensuring European security.
“Any attempt to create parallel structures, duplicate the command system will only weaken our overall potential for interaction, since with very limited res-ources, we must avoid parallelism and duplication of efforts,” Stoltenberg said.
Why does the EU need its own army
The formation of a unified EU military is not a new idea. Back in the 90s, against the backdrop of the war in the Balkans and the collapse of Yugoslavia, the bloc set the task of creating an army of about 60 thousand soldiers, but the European Union made only a rapid reaction group numbering about 1.5 thousand people. The European Fighting Teams project was completed in 2007, but the EU has never used it during major crises in the region or deployed missions in areas of active conflict. Now, depending on the circumstances, the European Union is creating a separate mixed contingent for its humanitarian missions, but, in particular, Germany and France have repeatedly insisted on the creation of an EU military force.
The chaotic withdrawal of the American military contingent from Afghani-stan became an alarming sign for the European Un-ion and a kind of catalyst for discussions about the need for a permanent and well-coordinated operational grouping of the bloc. EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Secur-ity Policy Josep Borrell spoke about this in an article for The New York Times , who said that the concept of a new defense system was considered at a meeting of EU defense ministers in Slovenia.
The block is scheduled to approve the strategy in March 2022. The rapid response team is expected to include 5,000 people.
High-ranking officials of the European Union agreed that European forces were completely dependent on Washington’s decisions in Afghanistan, when the NATO article, which obliges all members of the blocs to protect each other, was first applied. In fact, the allies relying on US aviation, transportation and logistics could not guarantee the safe evacuation of their citizens from Afghanistan when the US withdrew from the war-torn country. At the same time, the European Union has invested more than € 13 billion in economic aid and military support for the alliance.
If the bloc had had its own rapid response group at that moment, they could independently hold the Kabul airport and continue evacuating from Afghanistan after the American military left. Recall that London, Berlin and Brussels ultimately condemned how the United States completed its mission in the country, virtually ignoring consultations with allies. The United States also did not change its course after the calls of the G7 leaders to extend the deadline for the withdrawal of foreign contingents from Afghanistan, although it is Europe that the crisis in this country threatens with greater consequences than the States.
“Nobody asked us if it was a good idea to leave Afghanistan so quickly,” Johann Vadeful, deputy leader of the German parliamentary group (CDU / CSU), told Bloomberg Television.
In this regard, the EU is now determined to seek greater autonomy in decision-making in crisis situations in order to indicate its strength on the world stage. As stated by the Chief of Staff of the Spanish Navy, the buildup of military potential by the European Union is one of the consequences of what happened in Afghanistan.