by Manfred Weber MEP, Chairman of the EEP Group, European Parliament, Brussels/ Strasbourg
“We must create a European army by 2030, not to replace national armed forces, but to unite them under a common European roof.” (Manfred Weber)
Our freedom and democracy is facing the biggest threat since the end of the Cold War. On the one hand, Russia is destabilising our societies through disinformation, fake news
and the massive financing of extremist parties. Russian troops have invaded parts of our neighbouring countries. Russian hackers have attacked newspapers, broadcasters and parliamentsin Estonia, Germany and many other countries. Russian missiles are pointing at our cities, in clear violation of international treaties. On the other hand, at the same time, the current US Administration is questioning the transatlantic unity and withdrawing from arms controls agreements that had been the foundation of our European security for the last decades. In light of these threats, we must not only reinforce our European commitment to NATO but take appropriate measures to foster European security and defence capabilities.
Build up common capabilities
As a first step, we should establish a European Cyber Brigade until 2021, fighting against cyber-attacks all over Europe. Otherwise, European countries on their own will be too small for the effective protection of their public life and critical infrastructures against the wars of tomorrow. We must also develop the weapons of the future together. Only if we join our resources and research capacities will we be able to develop a European drone and a next generation fighter plane to maintain an effective air defence. And only together will we be able to face the increasing missile threat: if Russia continues deploying those very middle range nuclear missiles that are explicitly forbidden by the INF treaty at our borders, we should not exclude building up our own European missile defence, in close partnership with our American friends and NATO allies. That would also ensure
our central and eastern European countries the full solidarity of the whole European Union on security.
Indeed, effective defence is also a question of an established common culture and a strong sense of belonging. This is why we must establish a true European Military Academy, similar to West Point in the US. In this academy, which would be best located in one of the new EU Member States, we could train a new generation of officers completely used to working together in European teams and entirely ready for the common defence of our continent.
Time to join our forces As a strong long-term vision, we must have the courage to pool all EU Member States’ military capacities and put an end to all those inefficiencies and parallel structures that are dramatically weakening each country’s individual security. This is why we must create a European army by 2030, not to replace national armed forces, but to unite them under a common European roof. Of course, the deployment of contingents of national forces under the European army shall require the consent of
the responsible national institutions. But no government and no Parliament unwilling to act shall be able to stop other EU countries from deploying their own troops to protect our common European security within the European army. The time of selfish defence vetoes must finally be over in Europe. If we stand together now, Europe’s countries combined will no longer be just the world’s second largest defence spenders with an effective security far below this position. If we stand together now, Europe can truly become the world’s second strongest defence power, just after the US, that no-one will dare attack any more. Together, we can guarantee a previously unknown degree of security to the people everywhere in Europe and to all our proud nations. Together, we can empower our soldiers to protect us against the threats of the 21st century.
It is time to join our forces.
Manfred Weber MEP
has been the Chairman of the EPP Group in the European Parliament (EP) since 2014. Born in 1972 in Germany, he graduated in 1996 with an Engineer diploma from the
Munich University of Applied Science. He started his political career as Regional Chairman of the Youth Organisation of the Bavarian CSU party in 2003 before becoming a member of the Regional Assembly of Bavaria (2002-2004), and a Member of the EP in 2004. In November 2018, Mr Weber was nominated by his group as “Spitzenkandidat” of the European Commission Presidency.