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This House would create a single European Union army
This House would create a single European Union army
In recent years, there has been much discussion regarding the concept of a European Defence Force (sometimes referred to as the “Euro Corps” or EDF). Such a standing armed force would be drawn from EU member-nations and operate under EU control, in contrast to the existing NATO grouping which has the United States as a prominent and influential member. As is often the case with matters of national and regional defence, there is much controversy as to whether the European Defence Force is a good idea. Debates on the Euro Corps can often revolve around the proposed role of NATO in the post-Cold War era, and it is important to realise that the significance of the EDF may resonate beyond the borders of the European Union.
|Points For||Points Against|
|The EU needs a dedicated defence force||Constitutional obstructions|
|A single army would enhance the political integration of EU members states||Germany|
|NATO has established a precedent for multilateral military action||The creation of an EU army could harm diplomatic relations with the USA|
|The economic strength of the EU enables the creation of a strong military||The creation of a standing army would be contrary to the spirit and purpose of the EU|
|Regional instability in certain areas of continental europe necessitates the creation of an EU defence force||A large and diverse collective defence for would be impossible to command and develop|
Remember to choose a winning argument!
The EU needs a dedicated defence force
It is important for the EU to have a defence policy independent of NATO. With its origins in the Cold War, and its preponderance of American influence, NATO carries a great deal of historical and geopolitical baggage. This means that NATO cannot easily intervene in Eastern Europe without incurring the displeasure of Russia. This was best proven during the 2008 conflict between Russia and Georgia, when Georgia’s impending accession to NATO was seen as part of the incentive for Russian support to the ‘break-away’ regions in Georgia. The European Defence Force will allow the EU to deal with crises in Eastern and Central Europe more effectively, as they will not have to tiptoe around Russia as much.
 Parsons, R. (8 August, 2008). Georgia pays price for its NATO ambitions. Accessed September 7, 2011 from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/georgia/2524629/Georgia...
NATO has successfully defended the interests of Western Europe for several decades now – why rock the boat? It is hard to see a problem which NATO cannot solve, which the European Defence Force could instead. In any case, we will always have to consider Russia’s sensibilities when engaging in peacekeeping operations in Eastern Europe, and it is far better to have America’s bargaining power and geopolitical clout backing us when we negotiate with Russia. If we create a European Defence Force, we will marginalise NATO and the United States. This will lead to a reduced US engagement in Europe, which may in turn diminish our influence when having discussions with Russia over security issues in Europe and beyond.Improve this
A single army would enhance the political integration of EU members states
The European Union has significant integration and convergence of the political and economic spheres. Integration of defence policy and the establishment of a European Defence Force should be the logical next step. The African Union took this step and has achieved success in combat missions defending the Union.
 The UN Refugee Agency (31 January, 2008) Comoros: Military invasion of Anjouan imminent, government warns. Accessed September 7, 2011 from: http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/country,,,,COM,,47b4614c0,0.html
We have seen variations in opinion regarding political and economic issues (e.g. monetary union) in the EU. In the far more thorny area of defence policy, the EU member-nations’ interests are even more divergent. For example, the French position on Algeria may be different from the United Kingdom’s. This difference in priorities will ultimately lead to deadlock, as no country wishes to see its soldiers dying on a battlefield that provides no direct strategic interest to itself.Improve this
NATO has established a precedent for multilateral military action
NATO has been crucial to maintaining the balance of power during the cold war. Although there have been some arguments amongst its member states, NATO has shown us that a standing multinational defence force is possible and more importantly works well overall. The recent NATO deployment in Libya is an example of its regional influence and military flexibility. Considering many members of NATO are also members of the EU, the proposed European Defence Force could follow its example and complement it.
NATO and the proposed European Defence Force are designed to address very different concerns. NATO exists to deal with situations of such magnitude that the nations of Western Europe are likely to adopt a common defence policy. In contrast, the EDF is targeted at smaller geopolitical incidents which would otherwise be ‘beneath’ the notice of NATO. Unfortunately smaller incidents by their nature do not have uniform effects on all EU member-nations, and are therefore unlikely to generate a consensus of policy among EU nations.Improve this
The economic strength of the EU enables the creation of a strong military
With the growing industrial and economic maturity of the European Union and its members, it is now financially feasible for the EU to have its own standing defence force. The proposed EDF would also create a great many jobs as European defence contractors could be recruited into supplying equipment and weaponry.
 Amadeo, K.. The EU has replaced the U.S. as the world’s largest economy. Accessed September 7, 2011 from About: http://useconomy.about.com/od/grossdomesticproduct/p/largest_economy.htm
Even if we assume that the massive costs of a standing military force can be borne by the EU and its members, the key barriers to establishing a standing defence force are often political. Creating a European Defence Force de novo would require us to decide on several thorny questions, namely the command structure, whether the role should be merely defensive or include peacekeeping, the choice of equipment and supplier, creating a common defence policy, and choosing a language of communication. All of these questions involve political considerations or economic vested interests, all of which are likely to result in on-going wrangling that will yield a stillborn EDF.Improve this
Regional instability in certain areas of continental europe necessitates the creation of an EU defence force
Constant political instability and war in and near the Middle East call for a united single force charged with the defence of EU countries lying close to the volatile areas.. Turkey is a prime candidate for EU membership, and with its location on the border of both Syria and Iraq, will require support if its refugee problem is to remain manageable. The revolutions in Northern Africa also call for a stabilising force in the region, particularly in Italy where a ‘refugee crisis’ has coincided with the attempts of anti-Gaddafi Libyans to flee the country. If the EU is to take its growing role upon the world stage seriously, it needs a dedicated defence force to make an impact in the region.
 Day, M. (14 May, 2011) Flood of North African refugees to Italy ends EU passport-free travel. Accessed September 7, 2011 from: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/flood-of-north-african-re...
Although there is instability in neighbouring regions, most of Europe is in complete and utter peace. The new force would simply be another layer of defence in a stable continent that simply doesn’t need it. War in Europe is completely inconceivable in the 21st century, and considering the threat of war should be the primary reason for holding a standing army, it seems that an EU army has no reasonable case for existence.Improve this
Every EU country would have an incredibly hard time making the constitutional changes necessary for the handing over of a part of defence policy to an EU institution. In fact, for many EU countries it would be unworkable. In the U.K., constitutional issues might not be as bad as say in France – but this does not change the fact that it would require deft political skill and manoeuvring, often undemocratic and without any sort of referendum, in order to make the constitutional changes necessary to create this force.
The EU has managed to pass similar large amounts of apparently ‘unconstitutional’ legislation through member state legislatures. The Lisbon Treaty, for example, managed to be signed. And so, it seems that archaic constitutional convention cannot stop EU integration – the European Project is simply turning its eyes upon defence: integration has occurred in many walks of life, now it is defence policy’s turn.Improve this
Europe has been torn apart twice in the 20th century and on both occasions a German Army has been the aggressor. If the E.U. ever had a defence force, no doubt German troops would be at the heart of it. It is just over 60 years ago that German troops invaded many of the countries that today will be forced to fight alongside them. This, especially for the people who fought against a German Army and are alive today, is at best insulting and at worst, political provocation. This is even without mentioning the Holocaust and its ever-present artifacts that litter eastern Europe; a constant reminder to Europeans of the horrors a German Army had once committed.Improve this
The status of Germany is an irrelevant issue. What has happened in the past should have no bearing on judging the Germany of today. Their whole system of government and culture has changed with a new constitution and the maturity of an open-minded youth born after WW2. It’s simply an insult to judge those Germans who have done everything they can to make up for the past atrocities of their nation, by once again digging up the past.Improve this
The creation of an EU army could harm diplomatic relations with the USA
We are completely ignoring the issue of geopolitics and how the creation of this entity would be a direct move to replace NATO as the primary defender of Europe. This would of course mean a rejection of the US, as the heart of NATO. What would follow from this would be an extremely unpredictable and volatile place to practice international relations. One thing that we can predict, however, will be the ‘cold shoulder’ the US would suddenly show the EU. The US would feel as if its ally had used it to gain strength after WWII (The Marshall Plan), and now that it’s back on its feet again can forget and even challenge America’s supremacy.Improve this
This is mostly speculation. The proposition takes a more optimistic view of US-EU relations after the creation of a European Defence Force. America will more than welcome a strong friend in the region, anything to calm the instability in the near regions of North Africa and the Middle East, not to mention the global markets.Improve this
The creation of a standing army would be contrary to the spirit and purpose of the EU
It was not the aim of the original European Community to integrate defence. The original partnership was called the European Coal and Steel Community for a reason, designed as a union for mutual economic development and the sharing of scarce resources. The acceleration of the EU has therefore gotten out of hand, and it’s high time it came to an end. A defence force would be one step to far – it would signal the creation of some sort of federal super state, something that not many people in Europe want.
 CVCE (18 April, 1951). Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community. Accessed September 7, 2011 from: http://www.cvce.eu/viewer/-/content/11a21305-941e-49d7-a171-ed5be548cd58...
 The Irish Times (26 August, 2011). A thirst for peace. Accessed September 7, 2011 from: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/innovation/2011/0826/1224302795053.html
Perhaps it was not the original aim to integrate defence, but that shouldn’t stop us doing it! It is the rational step considering the community has integrated most other things to want to protect all those ventures properly – with a dedicated defence force.Improve this
A large and diverse collective defence for would be impossible to command and develop
It does not take an in-depth analysis to imagine the issues, on the ground and at HQ, such as army would face. There would be communication issues, would the force use French, Spanish or English? There would be accountability questions, who would be in charge and who would pay for resources? Finally, there would be hostilities within the army and potentially inherent racism between the nations involved. Such a force would not be effective in a combat situation, and valuable lives and resources would be wasted.
 Ioannides, I. (4 September, 2002). The European Rapid Reaction Force: Implications for Democratic Accountability. Accessed September 7, 2011 from: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1398915
The proposition believes in a more liberal and open-minded average European soldier. There will be no communication issues in the 21st century where translators and bilingual officers are easy to come by. There will be no accountability issues when we create a proper command structure. And there will be no racism because to believe that there would be is to prejudge the whole of Europe and insult the culture-shapers’ attempts to respect and learn from Europe’s dark past, not to repeat it.Improve this
Amadeo, K.. The EU has replaced the U.S. as the world’s largest economy. About.com, Accessed September 7, 2011 http://useconomy.about.com/od/grossdomesticproduct/p/largest_economy.htm
BBC News (26 August, 2011) Libya conflict: Nato jets hit Gaddafi Sirte bunker. Accessed September 7, 2011 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-14677754
CVCE (18 April, 1951). Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community. Accessed September 7, 2011 http://www.cvce.eu/viewer/-/content/11a21305-941e-49d7-a171-ed5be548cd58/en;jsessionid=E34E2150ED3DD467D9282A058E858FDE
Day, M. (14 May, 2011) Flood of North African refugees to Italy ends EU passport-free travel. The Independent, Accessed September 7, 2011 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/flood-of-north-african-refugees-to-italy-ends-eu-passportfree-travel-2283888.html
Eurocorps. Headquarters Eurocorps. Accessed September 7. 2011 http://www.eurocorps.org/
Ioannides, I. (4 September, 2002). ‘The European Rapid Reaction Force: Implications for Democratic Accountability’, BICC Working Paper, No.24, Accessed September 7, 2011 http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1398915
Parsons, R. (8 August, 2008). Georgia pays price for its NATO ambitions. The Telegraph, Accessed September 7, 2011 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/georgia/2524629/Georgia-pays-price-for-its-Nato-ambitions.htm
The Irish Times (26 August, 2011). A thirst for peace. Accessed September 7, 2011 http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/innovation/2011/0826/1224302795053.html
The UN Refugee Agency (31 January, 2008) Comoros: Military invasion of Anjouan imminent, government warns. Accessed September 7, 2011 http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/country,,,,COM,,47b4614c0,0.html
Wagner, W. (May 19, 2007). The Democratic Deficit in the EU’s Security and Defense Policy – why bother?, EUSA Tenth Biennial International Conference Montreal Canada, Accessed September 7, 2011 http://aei.pitt.edu/8061/1/wagner-w-07b.pdf
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