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BRUSSELS: An EU army is likely to be formed one day, the European Commis­sion said on Tuesday after French President Emma­n­uel Macron called for a “real European army” to reduce dependence on the United States.

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, a former premier of Luxem­bou­­rg, has long been a vocal supporter of the idea that the European Union should have more common defence capability, separate from the US-dominated Nato military alliance.

The imminent departure from the bloc of Britain, long opposed to EU military collaboration, has revived discussion of defence cooperation — as have concerns that President Donald Trump may be less willing than his predecessors to come to Europe’s defence in the face of a newly assertive Russia.

Some EU leaders share Britain’s view that giving the EU a big military role could undermine Nato. Traditionally neutral, non-Nato countries in the Union are also wary.

However, most member states agreed last December to cooperate on funding and developing their armed forces.

Asked about Macron’s re­­mark earlier in the day and whether the Commis­sion supported the creation of a “European army”, chief spo­­­kesman Margaritis Schi­nas noted that new EU project to collaborate on def­e­nce procurement and rese­arch as well as new EU military peacekeeping missions beyond Europe’s borders.

“This is the commission that put forward lots of initiatives and proposals to start building gradually a more meaningful and assertive defence identity in these difficult geopolitical times,” he told reporters at a regular briefing.

“I don’t think that this defence identity will start with an EU army,” Schinas said.

Published in Dawn, November 7th, 2018

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