Anyone who has an ounce of modern history should be horrified by the chaos of the early 20th Century across Europe and much of the world – and grateful for the comparative peace and prosperity of the European Union. But today’s EU has much duplication – and is very slow in a crisis as they require Unanimous agreement from all 27 member countries. Any one of them can Veto decisions on Foreign Policy etc. Also, the Euro being a shared currency but having multiple finance ministers has always seemed unsustainable to me.
But then Putin invaded the Ukraine – and Europe shuddered. How was that “European Army” project going? Back in 2018 Visualpolitik reported that the European Military system was not strategically directed at the threats of the modern world, included awful duplication and waste of resources, and often had warehouses of untested or broken hardware. As a collective, the EU spent plenty of money on their military – it is just in awful need of strategic streamlining. (15 minutes) https://youtu.be/is1rMGR32xQ
But an EU Army would be an extremely challenging thing for the EU in its current state to run – according to The EU Made Simple (TEMS – 5 minutes)
It might compete with and draw funds away from NATO. I counter that if the EU army is vastly more efficient, and getting more bang for their buck – then NATO is getting a STRONGER ally with an EU Army. It’s not a binary ‘either / or’ but an inclusive decision for both an EU Army AND a much stronger more efficient NATO. Why wouldn’t NATO want a more powerful, reliable, hands-on strategic EU Army as a member state instead of 27 smaller awfully duplicated, weaker and harder to co-ordinate member States? As Robert Baratheon asks – which is the bigger number? 5 or 1? (2 minutes – and so worth it!)
The more serious problem TEMS raises is who controls this Army? The EU requires Unanimous agreement on all decisions of Foreign Policy – and you don’t get a more serious or more contentious issue in Foreign Policy than the declaration of war! Also – who will fund it, build equipment, run it, and control it? Again – any one of 27 member countries can VETO any decision.
But after Putin’s invasion – an EU Army now appears inevitable. TEMS argues that with an aggressive Russia to the East, a new threat from China in the Far East, and an unreliable American ally in the West – an EU Army is essential. Right now it has an increase in public and political support. America under Trump seemed to vacillate in their support for NATO – and a future nut-job like Trump is sadly still possible in the USA. AUKUS (The military pact between Australia, the UK and US) ruled out buying French subs. This appears to be a new level of alliance between these nations that appears to compete with the EU, especially given the French were not even given a chance to tender on the new Australian requirement for nuclear subs – when these French subs were originally nuclear designs in the first place! America has also moved 12,000 troops out of Europe and put them in Asia repositioning towards China. Finally, there is no Common Crisis Response – eg: the largely American led withdrawal from Afghanistan didn’t secure the airport long enough and the EU had no real say in what was happening. NATO has conflicting priorities in various Crisis Response on matters abroad. (TEMS 4:33 )
So what positive things are happening? Germany is raising their funding to 2% GDP and are trying to tighten military efficiency. This will make them the EU’s military superpower.
But ultimately – a European Army would work best in a Federated Country called Europe. This does not have to suddenly overnight Federate all 27 member states into one massive “United States of Europe!” (Oh how the Europeans I discuss this with hate that term – the youtuber TEMS is only being tongue in cheek calling them that in the following video – and that flag truly is hideous! Ha ha ha – people can be so sensitive. The flag in this video is just a joke!) Instead, I like the TEMS idea of a Tiered Europe, and it is something I’ve suggested in forums before. There would be a Federated Country called “Europe” at the core, starting with the Inner 6.
(Technical aside – but I’m not aware of any State that would Veto the Inner 6 wanting to Federate. But if they did there is still a way forward. The Inner 6 could ask another 3 member states to join with them. Then they meet the requirements for Article 20 which allows a minimum of 9 member States to agree to further integration on any issues – and only the participating States vote! No one else can even vote on it – let alone Veto – which is in line with the goals of the EU towards further integration. You just don’t get more integrated than merging together to become one country!)
Then there would still be a broader EU that can include less integrated & non-Federated Countries possibly on a journey towards joining the Inner 6 in full Federation. Sure – they’re giving up some sovereignty. But they’re getting the rewards of a faster, leaner, but vastly more effective and powerful military – and so much more as well. See TEMS on a “United States of Europe by 2030.” (10 minutes.)
This next video unpacks Macron’s vision for the EU and how that might eventually lead into a Tiered Europe with the ability to migrate between 4 Tiers of integration from The Council of Europe (Copper membership), The Political Community (Bronze), the EU (Silver), and finally the Federated Inner 6 (Gold membership). (TEMS nearly 7 minutes)
The talk is not just of a tighter more co-ordinated Inner 6, but a more efficient and faster process for joining the broader club of Europe in the first place. This then puts countries on a potential treadmill heading from Copper to Bronze, Silver, and finally Gold membership. Some may stay out at various more distant levels – but it seems obvious to me that the Inner 6 will eventually grow.
My historical question? This may sound melodramatic – but I can’t help but see historical comparisons. Thousands of years ago the Romans discovered the Carthaginians trading with and taking over Sicily – right off their southern border. They objected! This led to military conflict and Rome adapting and changing their military strategies in an effort to defeat Carthage. Or take the World War 2 Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto who planned the attack on Pearl Harbour. America had been out of the war until then. After the successful attack – Yamamoto wrote in his diary “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”
Is the Ukraine Europe’s Sicily? Their Pearl Harbour? I personally think Putin has just stabbed a sleeping giant in the toe, and “filled him with a terrible resolve”! He has accelerated the move to a new superpower called Europe – but unlike other superpowers – it has the potential to invite new member states and grow across the continent in leaps and bounds we could not imagine until today.