Is a European Military a Real Possibility?

Topics: European Union, European Union Military Staff, Common Security and Defence Policy Pages: 8 (2537 words) Published: October 3, 2014
Alexander Ivanov
INTL 2700
Oreste Foppiani

Is a European Union military a real possibility?

Before beginning an argument like this, certain parameters have to be established. Definitions have to be given and set, and the scope of the investigation has to be fixed. The most important parameter, one that will echo throughout the paper, is the definition of a military. A military is a rather broad term, if explored in detail, but Wikipedia gives a surprisingly concise definition of it – “a military is an organisation authorised by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats.” Therefore, before even beginning to answer the research question, one must first determine, according to differing sets of parameters, whether the European Union already has a military, and can it even have a military by definition.

The parameters mentioned above are as follows: the term and concept of “military” has both changed over the years has at the same time stayed the same. With the advent of modern warfare, both as contemporary post-WWI conflicts and twenty-first century wars, the military has changed tremendously. It has, however, persevered in retaining a largely same role as it always has – the one outlined in the definition above. The real difference, then, lays not so much in the definition of a military but rather the various elaborations on the definition, as well as all the terms involved in it, such as “real threat” and “perceived threat”.

The scope of the investigation would have to cover not only the hypothetical and legal side of the question, but also what is already in place and how does it influence the hypothetical future. An examination of what already exists on this subject in the EU, both on paper and in reality, will shed light on how best to answer the research question or even on how to rephrase it. Without further ado, it is best to begin by summarising the various branches of military units in the EU. As non-national units there are European Force (EUFOR), Eurocorps, EU Battlegroups and European Maritime Force (EMF). EUFOR is a rapid-deployment peacekeeping force that is designed to act as a complement for the other groups. It is controlled by the European Union Military Staff (EUMS) and has been deployed four times so far, all in a peacekeeping capability. Eurocorps is a genuine standing army, but still serves roughly the same purpose as EUFOR. EU Battlegroups are military units that belong to member states of the EU but can be deployed and commanded by the Council of the European Union. Finally the EMF is a naval force designed for peacekeeping operations also.

The overall impression is – the EU has a vast military, with differing branches and command structures. The only missing bit is an air force separate from those units mentioned above. As much as an obvious observation this may be, it is far from the truth. For starters, there are four different groups with different complements, but seemingly with the same mission, that make up the EU military units of the present day.


Going by its traditional definition, a military is designed to protect the host nation from real and perceived threats. Already at that level, this does not apply to the current military units. For lack of a better term, the above-listed groups are rapid-deployment, international peacekeeping forces. This is not the outlined job of a military. It is, however, increasingly becoming a truism in the world of modern warfare, where the traditional defence force is no longer as necessary as before. In the case of the United States or Israel, there are indeed conventional militaries that stick to their outlined jobs, even though they might fight abroad and against an unperceivable enemy. The EU peacekeeping units have been around the world, but never in the role that is assigned to a real military – even in Afghanistan and Libya as part of...

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