The EU is working on creating its own “rapid military intervention force” which will be ready as soon as 2025, according to a report this week by Die Welt.
Citing the geopolitical instability caused by the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, the bloc is reportedly seeking to create a unit of 5,000 men which would be tasked with “evacuation” and “stabilisation” in crisis situations.
— WELT (@welt) November 13, 2022
One proposed first mission could include going into war-torn Ukraine to secure a ceasefire by setting up a “protection zone.”
It’s also been proposed that the EU Rapid Deployment Capacity should contain not just ground forces, but air and naval forces if the situation calls for it.
Speaking to Welt, EU chief diplomat Josep Borrell explained the idea this week.
“As a first step, we created two possible deployment scenarios for the EU intervention force: rescue and evacuation operations and, as a second scenario, the beginning (initial phase) of a stabilisation mission,” he said.
Borrell added that the unit would hold its first military exercise in the second half of 2023 in Spain, and that it would be fully operational by as early as 2025.
He said the force was “crucial to enable the EU to respond quickly, robustly and effectively to conflicts and crises, both in our immediate neighbourhood and beyond.”
The plan has been in the works since March of this year, and in October, the Irish government confirmed that Ireland would be contributing 120 troops to the force despite the country’s neutral status.
Ireland to contribute up to 120 troops to new EU crisis response force https://t.co/lhHni4HYCo
— The Irish Times (@IrishTimes) October 19, 2022
“As regards a rapid reaction force, yes, I think there’s a good chance that we’ll be involved in that,” Fine Gael Defence Minister Simon Coveney said earlier in the year.
“We could have up to 5,000 trained personnel that have trained together, worked together, have shared equipment, and are ready to go at short notice. And if Ireland chooses to be part of that, then of course we can be.”
EU foreign and defence ministers are meeting in Brussels at the beginning of a week of high stakes diplomacy over Ukraine which will culminate in a meeting of EU, G7 and NATO leaders, including US president Joe Biden, later this weekhttps://t.co/JyPlhDyjdA
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) March 21, 2022
This statement seems to contradict Coveney’s previous statement in 2021, where he unambiguously ruled out Ireland being part of any kind of EU military.
“I want to be very clear that no discussions have taken place regarding the further militarisation of the EU or the creation of an European army…There are no plans for an EU army and if there were, Ireland would not be part of it,” he said last May.
The announcement comes as Irish troops are already serving in EU battle groups since as far back as 2018.
Irish troops to participate in EU Battle Group https://t.co/Eb6OW1B5qQ
— TheJournal.ie (@thejournal_ie) February 6, 2018
Since the start of the Ukraine war the government has hinted at the idea of a Citizens’ Assembly on the issue of Irish military neutrality, with numerous government politicians saying that the historic policy is “outdated” and should be done away with.
Citizens' assembly on Irish neutrality a possibility, says Taoiseach https://t.co/CcXXk5CDsp
— Irish Examiner (@irishexaminer) March 8, 2022
This is despite the fact that virtually all polling shows overwhelming support among the general public for retaining Ireland’s neutral status.
Irish people overwhelmingly support military neutrality in latest poll https://t.co/iFMOsXGvIL
— breakingnews.ie (@breakingnewsie) April 15, 2022
Numerous high-ranking European leaders over the years have outright called for a European armed forces, including French President Emmanuel Macron, who in 2018 called for a “real, true European army.”
France's Macron pushes for 'true European army' https://t.co/MIF6GhKO7i
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) November 6, 2018
This call was later echoed by then-German chancellor Angela Merkel.
Merkel joins Macron in calling for a ‘real, true European army’ https://t.co/rTj0fjMYnX
— The Guardian (@guardian) November 13, 2018
Last year European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen also called for the “political will” to build an EU army.
The German leader of the 27-nation bloc said that the EU needs to create its own military, investing in “fighter jets, drones and cybersecurity,” adding: “You can have the most advanced forces in the world – but if you are never prepared to use them – of what use are they?”
Von der Leyen said the EU needs to create its own European army, investing in”fighter jets, drones & cybersecurity,” adding “You can have the most advanced forces in the world, but if you are never prepared to use them, of what use are they?”#gripthttps://t.co/XbzLaf6SNw
— gript (@griptmedia) September 17, 2021
In 2019, when Von Der Leyen was German Defence Minister, she stated that she believes that an EU army is “already taking shape,” describing this as “progress.”
— Independent.ie (@Independent_ie) July 3, 2019
Additionally, Von Der Leyen’s predecessor, former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, previously called for a European army as well.
Jean-Claude Juncker calls for EU army http://t.co/nEbxh2KPI9
— The Guardian (@guardian) March 9, 2015
In 2019 top EU official Guy Verhofstadt even called for a “European empire.”
— Acton Institute (@ActonInstitute) September 17, 2019