By the end of WW1, hundreds of thousands of French and German soldiers had died in order to obtain the industrial region of Ruhr. The two of them launched a call for a real European Army. History shows us that the story of the relationship between these two countries had always been troubled and painful. They had ever been in conflict since the time of the Holy Roman Empire, with the deep hostility among Habsburgs and Kings of France. This was especially problematic under the Kingdom of Carlo V, who ruled over France-border countries of Spain, Italy, and Germany. Then, there were the Napoleonic Wars and France’s victory at Austerlitz. The Franco-Prussian war was followed by the march of German soldiers on Paris. In both World War I and World War II, two of the main players were none other than France and Germany. Despite their long history of war and conflict, the two of them now set out to establish an EU army. I think this is the symbol of the importance of the Union and the flourishing of a real European soul.
The history of the European Army is long – a dream which has followed the EU since its birth. Europe is legally an international organization sui generis because it is in the middle between an intergovernmental organization, such as UN, and a confederation of countries, such as Switzerland. It has many characteristics that are similar to a Confederation – the sharing borders, for example. It is unique to all other similar organizations because of its internal single market.
Common borders must be defended, especially when Sovietic Union was on the other side. For this reason, the European countries developed a common defense army called the European Defense Union during the Cold War. This is not to be a real army, but a border policy employed in peacekeeping missions together with national armies, like EULEX mission in Kosovo. In 2016, the European Parliament discussed the creation of a real EU army, but the UK threatened to veto the proposal. Here is the crucial point. A European army would displace American power in the old continent – and that of NATO along with it. The countries of the EU would have a common foreign policy because of a shared military force. It is impossible to build efficient and coherent political strategy without a having a single military power; in many cases, strong defense is the basis of foreign policy. At the moment, Europe has only a High Commissar for foreign policy, Federica Mogherini; with a European Army, however, we would have a real Foreign Minister. The inevitable strategic and political unification that would follow is absolutely necessary if Europe wishes to reach sovereignty and hold a powerful voice in international issues. NATO is too old and cannot be handle international affairs anymore, and, as Macron explained, the United States is no longer a reliable ally under Trump’s presidency.
Economics is only one of the many factors that the power of a country depends upon. The USA, China, and Russia are currently the strongest international players, but this is not only due to their economic strength. The country with the most similar economy to that of Russia is Spain; yet this nation has not risen to the status of the former Soviet Union. Europe is a cultural and economic power, but will never be one of the main players if it fails to set a common foreign policy and join military forces.
Trump falsely tweeted that historically, there wouldn’t have ever been peace among European countries without American influence, and that the United States remains, in part, responsible for European stability and prosperity again. Though not necessarily the dominant international player, the EU represents a model of democracy, freedom, peace, and economic prosperity for the entire planet. Cultural and military unification through the creation of one army would send a positive message to the rest of the world, a message of peace, resilience, and strength in numbers.