I’m amazed that so few people I have spoken to are aware of this. Each time, I get the same response: ‘surely this isn’t true, why would they need to do this?’.
If you’re one of those people, here’s Sky News confirming the reality – albeit as an afterthought at the end of a Brexit article:
Meanwhile, UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon vowed to block any proposals for an EU army while Britain remains a member of the union.
In his state of the union address on Wednesday, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker called for EU countries ‘to pool their defence capabilities in the form of a permanent structured co-operation,’ and proposed a European Defence Fund by the end of the year.
For those of you thinking ‘so what?’, consider this:
A popular claim… is that the EU is run by ‘unelected bureaucrats’. How much truth is there behind that claim?
This claim mainly refers to the EU Commission: the EU’s executive body. It is true that the Commission President and the individual Commissioners are not directly elected by the peoples of Europe. So, in that sense, we cannot “throw the scoundrels out”. It is also true that under the provisions of the EU treaty, the Commission has the sole right to propose EU legislation, which, if passed, is then binding on all the EU member states and the citizens of these member states.
Would you like to take a stab at whether Jean-Claude Junker (the above mentioned EU Commission President) is an elected representative?
Even more embarrassingly, footage emerged in May of Juncker behaving bizarrely at an EU summit in Latvia last year. He welcomed EU leaders with kisses and slaps, hugged an uncomfortable President Francois Hollande of France, kissed the bald pate of another leader and greeted the Hungarian PM Viktor Orban as “Dictator”.
It would have been a career-ending moment for a democratically elected politician but it appears nothing can stop Juncker serving his five-year term.
While it is true that the EU has a democratically elected parliament, the fact remains that its unelected executive (the EU Commission) has complete control over the parliament’s agenda as only the EU Commission has the power to propose laws (see above). In this sense, try to think about how you would feel about Australia’s federal cabinet ministers being unelected and being the only ones with the power to propose laws.
Now let’s go straight to the horse’s mouth on how the EU army will be controlled:
Particularities of the CSDP
Decisions relating to the CSDP [Common Security and Defence Policy] are taken by the European Council (TMR: i.e. the 28 leaders of the EU member states, e.g. Merkel] and the Council of the European Union [TMR: i.e. the 28 defence ministers of each EU member state]… They are taken by unanimity, with some notable exceptions relating to the European Defence Agency [EDA]… and permanent structured cooperation (PESCO) [TMR: yes, that’s the same PESCO referred to by Junker above], where majority voting applies. Proposals for decisions are normally made by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who also acts as Vice-President of the European Commission (VP/HR).
The Lisbon Treaty introduced the notion of a European capabilities and armaments policy (Article 42(3) TEU), though this has yet to be framed. It also established a link between the CSDP and other Union policies by requiring that the EDA and the Commission work in liaison when necessary (Article 45(2) TEU).
As for the elected EU Parliament, it has the right to whistle dixie:
Parliament has the right to scrutinise the CSDP and to take the initiative of addressing the VP/HR and the Council on it.
What you think about all of this largely depends on how you feel about a collective EU army being controlled by a majority of the EU heads of state (i.e. 15 people) – with the minority being forced to go along for the ride. Yes, that means countries being forced to send people into battle even when they don’t want to.
It’s also important to note that things can change in an instant… and that they’re very keen to get started:
CSDP in 2015 — a policy in rapid evolution
While the CSDP did not change substantially in the first few years following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, it has a great potential to evolve, both politically and institutionally.
The principal achievements of the CSDP up to 2014 have been the consolidation of related EU structures under the aegis of the EEAS, and the Council’s definition of the EDA’s statute, seat and operational rules, as foreseen in Article 45(2) TEU.
A number of opportunities to advance the CSDP have been missed: attempts to launch operations have either failed, as in Lebanon and Libya, or lagged, as in Mali. As a result, EU Battlegroups have not been deployed, and the permanent headquarters for EU operations has yet to be instituted.
I’m sure it will all be fine. It’s not like Europe has a long and bloody history of war or anything.