Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade (IFAT) hosted a meeting titled: The “EU Army” after Brexit, on October 19. The guests of the event were: Ružica Jakešević (University of Zagreb); Damir Črnčec (Institute for Global Governance, Szlovénia), Arnold Kammel (Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy); as well as István Balogh, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, head of Department on Security Policy and Non-Proliferation. The event was moderated by Márton Ugrósdy, Deputy Director for Strategy at IFAT.
Nothing shows us the relevance of the event more, than the fact that nowadays the topic is discussed on day-to-day bases both in the EU bodies and the European press. Brexit causes a massive deficit in EU’s military capacities, therefore more and more questions are coming up, regarding the EU army.
Ružica Jakešević – while describing Croatia’s general defence policy – highlighted the facts, that the country maintains a strong relationship with the US, and that the national security relies on two pillars: NATO and the EU. Regarding the EU army, the position of Croatia on this idea is quite ambiguous and not extensively elaborated within political circles or the media. Preliminary research conducted within the Ministry of shows that there is a strong belief that the creation of an EU army would inevitably cause a duplication of resources, since NATO is seen as the central pillar of the European security architecture. Some argue that the common EU army could weaken the already existing NATO cooperation, as a result causing more damage than advantages. The main question made by Jakešević was: what would be the status of the new-born army, and if there is any challenge faced by the EU, that needs a common army as a response.
Damir Črnčec pointed out that the discussion on EU Army is considered as a political and expertly discussion and presents an issue of potential further integration and federalisation of the EU. Discussion on EU Army reminds him of discussions about EU intelligence service, which experts know will never happened. On a political level, the EU army is about supporting and relocating funds for EU defence and armament industries. He also explained that a number of states have a real security problem within its borders which are not solvable with military intervention. He also said that the British military is a part of European defence and also a key security link in NATO. It is important to keep them actively involved throughout the future in the common NATO and European defence structure. Furthermore, Črnčec quoted a key element in the definition of an army: “The army’s main purpose is to defend the state’s interests. The EU is definitely not a state.”, he ended. He said that the concept of an EU Army is more of a political ambition of centralising the EU rather than establishing a structure that would be a security provider.
Arnold Kammel started with a short overview on the security policy of Austria, in which he highlighted the fact, that since the end of World War II Austria is a neutral country. According to this it is not part of the NATO, hence it supports the further integration of the EU in the field of common foreign and security policy. Kammel presumes, that the EU member states’ willingness is higher than ever to form a common army. The reasons for this are the following: increasing number of terror attacks, the aggressive Russian expansion and the ambivalent foreign policy of president Donald Trump. Kammel agreed that there is a numerous question on how the army should look like, thus he suggested that EU should at first form an institutional framework. This framework might operate as a forum on how member states should achieve a deeper cooperation.
István Balogh said that Hungary supports every solution that aims at strengthening European security and the protection of EU citizens. Budapest supports PESCO and is working on the details of its participation in the initiative. It is important that defence cooperation remains intergovernmental and that our resources are used efficiently and effectively when guaranteeing European security.