EU army fears: The bloc must ‘grow up,’ according to the defence chief, who boasts a 50,000-strong “reaction force.”
The prospect of a European army looms as an EU defence chief said it was time for the bloc to “grow up” – and appeared to support the notion of a 50,000-strong “reaction force” capable of participating in international conflicts.
Joao Gomes Cravinho was speaking the day after a new analysis questioned the EU’s ability to militarize itself, pointing out that the EU27 as a whole spends an average of 1.2 percent of GDP on defense, far less than the two percent required by NATO and far less than the United Kingdom. In an interview with Politico’s Playbook bulletin, Mr. Cravinho, Portugal’s defense minister, appeared to dismiss such worries.
Recent events in Afghanistan, notably the twin suicide bombing that killed at least 190 people, including 13 US Marines, should “concentrate minds” in Brussels, according to Mr Cravinho, speaking ahead of an EU defense ministers conference in Slovenia on Wednesday and Thursday.
“We can’t stay teenagers forever,” he remarked.
“At some point, we have to stand up and say we accept responsibility. That moment has arrived.”
Mr. Cravinho insisted on not using the term “strategic autonomy” since it has “become so controversial.”
Countries in the former Soviet Union, in particular, were apprehensive of anything that could be interpreted as a lessening of ties with NATO and the United States, he said.
He stressed that the strategy will be carried out “in very close coordination with NATO and the United States.”
Nonetheless, he stressed the importance of “not being reliant on others for problems that are crucial to our interests,” adding, “This is part of the process of developing Europe.”
The EU’s top diplomat, Joseph Borrell, has proposed that the EU create a 50,000-strong “rapid entry force.”
Mr Cravinho stated that the plan will “certainly be discussed” in Slovenia this week.
“We need to develop a solid consensus in favor of moving forward, more quickly and aggressively building ability to intervene,” he explained.
“And then, whether it’s this 50,000-strong fast response force or anything else, I believe that will come next.”
Because EU members were creating the “Strategic Compass” – a document defining their defense aspirations – more will be revealed “in the next few of months.” “Brinkwire News in Condensed Form.”