Secret (((German))) White Paper Reveals True Scale of Germany’s EU Army Ambitions
A secret (((German))) defence white paper calling for the acceleration of the formation of a joint European Union Army has been leaked, revealing German ambitions to side-line NATO by creating a pan-EU force.
The paper had seen its release date pushed back until after the British referendum on EU membership, apparently over fears that it would play into the hands of those advocating a Leave vote. But a copy has been handed to the Financial Times, revealing the scale of Germany’s ambition for a pan-EU Army – led by Germany.
Germany has already taken steps to merge its military forces with those of the Netherlands, with a number of Dutch units already under German control. But the paper outlines steps to broaden this initiative, bringing the disparate national forces within EU member states under one umbrella – with Germany in charge.
“German security policy has relevance — also far beyond our country,” the paper states. “Germany is willing to join early, decisively and substantially as a driving force in international debates … to take responsibility and assume leadership”.
It argues that the EU’s defence industry is currently “organised nationally and seriously fragmented,” raising costs, preventing it from competing internationally, and making it difficult to mount joint operations.
“It is therefore necessary that military capabilities are jointly planned, developed, managed, procured and deployed to raise the interoperability of Europe’s defence forces and to further improve Europe’s capacity to act,” the paper states.
At the European level, Germany’s ministry of defence therefore wants to see joint civil-military headquarters for EU operations, a council of defence ministers, and co-ordinated production and sharing of military equipment.
However, it stresses that the changes will not threaten Germany’s “own technological sovereignty.”
The paper also takes a stance on the current debate within Germany on whether a ban on deploying the army domestically, instituted following the Nazi era, should be lifted. German troops are currently able to assist in civil emergencies such as floods, and have taken part in policing the migrant crisis, but are not allowed to deal with violence or threats of violence.
The paper argues the domestic ban should be lifted, given “the character and dynamic of current and future security-political threats”.
The thrust of the paper therefore displays a newfound confidence in German defence policy, and a new drive to take the lead on military matters within Europe.
Jan Techau, a former defence official at Carnegie Europe, said: “This is the time of a new Germany. This is probably the first time a German defence white paper is something like important.”
The paper makes no bones about Germany’s underlying mission to wrestle military power away from NATO – and more specifically from America – saying: “The more we Europeans are ready to take on a greater share of the common burden and the more our American partner is prepared to go along the road of common decision-making, the further the transatlantic security partnership will develop greater intensity and richer results.”
But critics have warned that this is merely a “dangerous fantasy” unless and until European powers are willing to put their money on the table for defence. Among the current European member states in 2015, only Britain, Poland, Greece and Estonia actually allocated the required minimum of two percent of GDP to defence spending, as stipulated in the NATO agreements.