The European Parliament has voted in favor of creating a European army. Although the initiative has a typically innocuous sounding acronym, SAFE (Synchronized Armed Forces Europe) it represents a major step toward the EU’s takeover of Member States’ armed forces.
SAFE will be directed by an EU directorate, with its own training standards and operational doctrine. It will advance a dream long-held by European elites to create a separate EU military identity outside of NATO. But in the absence of additional defense Euros and additional European manpower, the advancement of EU military arrangements can only come at NATO’s sacrifice.
It is no coincidence that it comes at the same time that France is proposing to rejoin NATO’s integrated military command, which is set to be announced at the 60th anniversary summit in Strasbourg in April. As France is likely to acquire one of NATO’s two supreme command posts (the Allied Command Transformation), it is perfectly placed to destroy the Alliance from within. Geoffrey Van Orden MEP, a British Conservative Party member and retired Brigadier-General, has criticized the initiative, stating: “We are giving a nation, which for nearly 50 years has been committed to marginalising Nato and building European structures to exclude the Americans, the job of re-jigging the transatlantic Alliance.”
The EU can only advance its foreign and defense policies at the expense of the transatlantic alliance. Lady Thatcher described the creation of an EU army as, “a piece of monumental folly that puts our security at risk in order to satisfy political vanity.” Rather than representing a genuine attempt to increase Europe’s military contribution to vital missions such as Afghanistan, the EU is merely seeking to advance its own power base.
The United States must not underestimate the danger of this initiative for the future of the transatlantic alliance and for its own ability to build coalitions of allies in future. By reducing the ability of member states to set their own military policies, the EU is pursuing an agenda independently of shared transatlantic interests which may ultimately threaten U.S. security interests.