European Union edges towards military cooperation
Jean-Claude Juncker calls for countries to pool resources to save billions of euros
The European Union has taken a major step towards having its own army after the President of the European Commission set out plans to organise a "common military force" across the continent.
Delivering his annual State of the Union address, Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU needed a joint command military headquarters. He argued that the lack of a "permanent structure" results in money being wasted on missions and that countries should pool their resources to save billions of euros.
"From an economic point of view bringing together our military resources could be clearly justified," he said.
Juncker added that any new force would "complement" Nato and would not threaten the EU's transatlantic relations.
The proposals, echoing a plan put forward this week by France and Germany, "are part of a broader attempt to rally EU nations after Britain's vote to leave the bloc and to capitalise on its departure", with London having long opposed the idea of a single European army, says Reuters.
After terror attacks in France, Belgium and Germany, EU leaders have identified security as a major concern among citizens.
However, with Europe's biggest-spending military power set to leave, many in Brussels are concerned that cuts in defence spending will limit the bloc's ability to run peace-keeping missions, disaster relief and counter-terrorism operations at home and abroad.
EU officials have stressed these proposals will not mean all soldiers will wear the same uniform but rather involve increased co-operation that could "revive long-running efforts to reduce reliance on the US" and save member states "up to €100bn a year", reports Reuters.