Italy has laid out plans for the creation of a “European force” that goes beyond Franco-German proposals on defence integration.
It said in an informal paper, seen by EUobserver, ahead of a defence ministers’ meeting in Bratislava on Tuesday (27 September) that the EU should create a “powerful and usable European Force that can also be employed in support to Nato or UN operations”.
Giving its full title, it said that the “joint permanent European Multinational Force (EMF)” should be created by “available member states willing to share forces, command and control, manoeuvre and enabling capabilities”.
It added that the force should be “permanently offered” to a new EU military HQ.
It also envisaged even deeper military integration in the future, saying that “the EMF will represent the initial nucleus of a future European integrated force”.
It also comes amid growing security threats from Russia, from Middle East and north African conflicts, and from terrorist groups.
It said that a “quantum leap” in EU military cooperation was needed to “avoid irrelevance”.
It also said “we face a threat both from inside and outside our societies, generating fear and uncertainty … The EU must come up with effective answers to our citizens’ growing concerns, starting with security and defence.”
France and Germany, earlier this month, also circulated an informal paper on EU defence.
Echoing German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen, who spoke, in Vilnius earlier this month, of a “Schengen of defence”, Italy spoke of a “Union for the European Defence, pursuing a model resembling the Schengen Agreement”.
The Schengen accord, which governs the EU’s free-travel zone, was first signed by just five out of the then 10 EU member states in 1985, but later expanded to take in 22 out of 28.
Italy said EU battlegroups should be more readily deployable and EU-funded.
It said member states should invest in “ensuring a robust [military] industrial and technological base” in Europe.
It said they should do more joint procurement and EU-funded R&D as well as creating “a common European military education system”.
Full article: Italy lays out ‘vision’ of EU army (euobserver)