In an alarming motion passed by the European Union’s Parliament, lawmakers voted 369-255 in favor of the creation in what can be called a European Union military force.
This vote, as the Independent assures its readers, is not legally binding but shows support for such mutual defense infrastructure. Not only does this signal a political divorce between Brussels — the city where the EU’s parliamentary seats are located and the cognomen for EU leadership — and the United States, this sends an alarming message to Russia and its President, Vladimir Putin, who has endured allegations of an imperialistic appetite towards Europe by American and European politicians.
“There are more and more risks to Europe related to terrorism, Russia, the Middle East, and North and Central Africa,” said Urmas Paet, the former foreign minister of Estonia.
Geoffrey Van Orden, Member of the European Parliament, was neither pleased nor convinced by the arguments offered by the likes of Urmas Paet. “You can’t have the European Union trying to hijack what is essentially a NATO requirement. You have to separate the requirements for member states, in other words European allies, to spend two per cent of their GDP on defense, which has precious little to do with the EU’s ambitions,” Mr Van Orden told The Independent. He later claimed that such actions committed by the European Union make it seem as if they’re aiming to be “some sort of actor on the World stage”.
Various sources such as RT and the Daily Express — both sources which require the reading between lines to an extent not yet settled —state that this new EU measure will slap the United Kingdom with a €420m ($446m) bill.
While this Express article is quick to point out in the opening statement that Brexit is to blame for the creation of a coordinated EU force, this is simply not the case.
The ideas of a “European Army” originate from political discussions and debates after the Second World War. Winston Churchill, in an address given to the University of Zurich on September 19th, 1946, called for “a kind of United States of Europe” to ensure safety, freedom, and happiness of millions living in Western Europe. On August 11th, 1950, in Strasbourg, France, Churchill speaks to the Council of Europe about the need for Western Europe to organize a force to contain Communism on the European continent. He ended his speech with the following proposal:
I trust that this Motion will, by an open and formal vote, receive the overwhelming, if not indeed the unanimous, support of this Assembly. This would be the greatest contribution that it is in our power to make to the safety and peace of the world. We can thus go forward together sure at least that we have done our duty. I beg to move that:
“The Assembly, in order to express its devotion to the maintenance of peace and its resolve to sustain the action of the Security Council of the United Nations in defence of peaceful peoples against aggression, calls for the immediate creation of a unified European Army subject to proper European democratic control and acting in full co-operation with the United States and Canada.”
Of course, this didn’t happen. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was established a year before, and although the political infrastructure of NATO was (and is) much more “loose” than the European Army proposed by Churchill, NATO shadowed this proposition.
Similarly, the European Defense Community was a promising idea which the Conservative government of Winston Churchill supported. (While Churchill’s government supported the idea of an EDC, they refused to take part in it, a notion that echoes well into the 21st century.) The primary purpose of the EDC was not only to establish a standing European Army, but to anchor (West) Germany into Western Europe. When the French Parliament failed to ratify the EDC, a similar organization called the European Political Community was proposed but this, too, failed in 1954 after the realization that the French would never relinquish some degree of national sovereignty as per the EDC’s ratification. On May 9th of 1955, Germany was admitted into NATO, eliminating the need for arching supranational treaties and organizations to both keep a “Western” West Germany and a standing continental army capable of defending the anti-Soviet European states.
The modern European Union as we know it was founded on November 1st, 1993, in Maastricht, Netherlands. While Brussel’s ability to impose its will on EU member states has always been an undertone in European politics, the Migration Crisis triggered by the destabilization of Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, and various other states has only further highlighted both the EU’s dominating nature and glaring errors.
A year into the Migration Crisis was when the cracks began to appear.
Poland highlighted the charge it has been leading when the nation refused to “accept a single refugee”, with Jaroslaw Kaczynski citing security concerns from the migrant population. Not too long ago, in October, the Swedish Minister of Justice and Migration threatened to take Hungary to the European Court of Justice because, Like Poland, Hungary refuses to meet the migrant quota set by the European Union.
Most of us know of Brexit, the British Referendum to leave the European Union, but much of the American political audience is quick to forget about the United Kingdom Independence Party, or UKIP, the right-wing Eurosceptic party launched to popularity under the charming, quick-witted Nigel Farage. Many people forget about the similarly-nationalist Geert Wilders, or Marine Le Pen, or Viktor Orban. Pauline Hanson is making headway in Australia with One Nation, a faction of the Liberal Party. Those are only a few which immediately come to mind.
These populist trends are what pushes the EU politicians for a standing army. NATO, with all of its potential shortcomings such as the future President Trump desiring that the nations of the treaty contribute more involvement, is a powerhouse alliance that survives the fall of the Warsaw Pact and still keeps Eastern aggression checked. Not only would a E.U. Army create organizational and, perhaps more importantly, steep financial redundancies, but where does NATO end and the E.U. force’s bureaucracy begin? Obligations to both cannot be met simultaneously, and although this recent motion in the E.U. Parliament wasn’t legally binding, let’s face the truth — it’s only a matter of time until it is.
We can count on a legally-binding E.U.-wide force. Prominent politicians rely on threatening states refusing the EU’s migrant quotas with legal action. With an EU army, this control over member states becomes tighter; there’s no need to punish member states if the EU mans the borders of every signatory of the Schengen Treaty area. Brussels is attempting to keep the rebelling EU member states — notably, the V4 nations of Hungary, Czechia, Slovakia, and Poland — under control in the same way the failed EDC was meant to keep West Germany in the hands of Western European hegemony.
This is a new European chapter, though. The threat of Communism no longer exists and the Russian Federation is quite willing to cooperate with President-elect Trump’s administration. The new fear is not Communism, but populist Nationalism as even the “Socialist”, Left-wing Sweden, the paragon of “Socialism done correctly”, turns Right as their anti-migrant, Eurosceptic party leads the polls. [Link is in Swedish — here is Google’s Swedish-to-English translation]
With the United States electing Donald J. Trump as the next President of the United States, a message was sent to the international community that populism not only exists here, but thrives. The increased Euroscepticism and populist nationalism currently sweeping the European states may find refuge and support in the USA, and, for the first time in American history, we may see our European foreign policy pivot from Western Europe to Central and Eastern Europe, depending on how late France and Italy are to the anti-E.U. party.
Of course, the United Kingdom is invited to this grand celebration of Globalism’s retirement, and it seems as if the R.S.V.P. has already been received.
— J.S. Marino