Speaking in Verdun, northeast France, President Emmanuel Macron called for the creation of a “true European army.”
“We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America,” Mr. Macron said on French radio. Europe is the “main victim,” Mr. Macron said, of Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw from the landmark 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty which prohibits the use of intermediate- and shorter-range rockets, as well as testing, producing or fielding new ground-based missiles. Tensions between European leaders and the U.S. have escalated at a time when the Trump administration has increased its defense spending in Europe.
Until now no significant merging of European forces has ever been achieved outside of specific European Union military missions. Previously, following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in March 2015 said the bloc needs its own military force to be taken seriously in international affairs. The EU has launched a fund for defense research. “We need a Europe which defends itself better alone, without just depending on the United States, in a more sovereign manner,” said Mr. Macron. France will remain the strongest and most vocal proponent of an EU army. On Tuesday, European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas welcomed the French president’s ambitions. However, the European vision is not to achieve this right now. Under the new “Permanent Structured Cooperation” (Pesco) initiative legislated for in 2009 and activated in 2017, 25 of the 28 European armed forces are in the process of stepping up cooperation between their militaries.