Time for a European Army

Now let’s turn to sanctions. We all know that the strongest advocate of sanctions against Russia was the US, and the European Union was mostly dragged along. You might want to go and listen to the famous phone call between Victoria Nuland, US-Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, and Geoffrey R. Pyatt, United States Ambassador to Ukraine, where Ms Nuland literally says Fuck the EU, when Geoffrey Pyatt counters her that the European Union might not like the move they are discussing. Even though it is not easy to find precise and up-to-date figures, looking at general statistics we can see how before sanctions were imposed the overall trade exchange between the US and Russia was just under 40 billion whilst the EU and Russia had an almost 400 billion overall trade exchange. Data for 2015 shows a US-Russia trade exchange figure at just over 20 billion dollars: an almost 50% reduction. The EU-Russia trade “only” fell by around 40% during the same time; when you look at absolute figures though, you realize that it is almost an 160 billion dollars contraction. Once again, who was damaged here the most? The US or the EU?

Let’s look at the most important figures now, the military budgets. Start by considering that the EU member states spend just under 200 billion dollars on defense every year (France, UK, Germany and Italy accounting for almost 80% of it) and that figure is almost twice the entire EU annual budget which is used, among others, for agricultural policies, scientific research funding, assistance to poorer regions and EU’s huge administration. 200 billions is still not that much when you compare it with the 610 billion spent by the USA in 2015 according to the Stockholm International Peace research institute. Given the high concentration of the budget, with 4 countries accounting for 80% of it, the discussion process might even be easier than expected!

In recent years there have been many calls coming from European politicians and leaders to start a legislative process to create a European Army in the face of growing instability and challenges on the international scene. But we have to start from history, without going too far in time, precisely right after the end of WWII. As Adriel Kasonta reports on The National Interest, it is Winston Churchill the one who gained the title of “inventor” of the modern concept of the European Army. He famously said at the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe, concerned with the possibility of German re-armament: there must be created, and in the shortest possible time, a real defensive front in Europe. Great Britain and United States must send large forces to the Continent. I have already made my appeal to Germany. France must again revive her famous army… All…must bear their share and do their best… we should make a gesture of practical and constructive guidance by declaring ourselves in favour of the immediate creation of a European army under a unified command, and in which we should all bear a worthy and honourable part. Therefore…I beg to move that: The Assembly…calls for the immediate creation of a unified European army subject to proper European democratic control and acting in full cooperation with the United States and Canada.