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When dangerous fantasies come true

Famously, while Nigel Farage was debating Nick Clegg in April 2014, the latter said that the idea of an EU army was a “dangerous fantasy”. Ed Miliband repeated the line a year later.

Three days ago, the man who was the EU’s Brexit Guy – the EU Parliament’s former Brexit Coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt MEP – tweeted,

BREAKING — Conference on the Future of Europe approves radical overhaul of the EU: end of unanimity, abolishment of veto’s, launch of Joint Armed Forces of the Union, transnational lists and many other reforms…

Now, just because the Conference on the Future of Europe says a thing, that does not necessarily mean it will come to pass. Wikipedia describes the Conference thus:

The Conference on the Future of Europe is a proposal of the European Commission and the European Parliament, announced at the end of 2019, with the aim of looking at the medium to long term future of the EU and what reforms should be made to its policies and institutions. It is intended that the Conference should involve citizens, including a significant role for young people, civil society, and European institutions as equal partners and last for two years. It will be jointly organised by the European Parliament, the EU Council and the European Commission.

In other words, the usual cheerleaders duly led the cheers. Nonetheless the very fact that the “young people, civil society and European institutions” who took part in the Conference were pre-selected for their obedience means that when they say they want an army that means that the leaders of the EU now want an army.

Discussion point: Watching Clegg and Farage spar over Vladimir Putin’s 2014 aggression against Ukraine, does anyone feel a newfound sympathy with Clegg’s position? These are dangerous times. It is no longer a matter for us in the UK to decide, but maybe the EU does need an army.

21 comments to When dangerous fantasies come true

  • bobby b

    If the EU makes its own army, does that mean its member states disband theirs?

    I don’t see that happening. This seems like a tough time for convincing people in that area to lessen their own individual power, such as it is.

  • …but maybe the EU does need an army.

    We have NATO. Moreover, France and particularly Germany has shown what unreliable security partners they are, so why would an EU Army that will inevitably be dominated by France and Germany make anyone sleep better at night?

  • Mark

    It’s not what you’ve got, it’s what you do with it.

  • Snorri Godhi

    France and particularly Germany has shown what unreliable security partners they are, so why would an EU Army that will inevitably be dominated by France and Germany make anyone sleep better at night?

    Agree and amplify.
    France and (nowadays) especially Germany should be regarded as potential threats.

    Britain, Italy, and the Iberian peninsula have natural boundaries, and ought to stand for themselves.

    Ideally, the countries on the European Plain between Germany and Russia should have a joint army (with nuclear weapons) — in addition to national armies, the latter being strong enough to prevent a military dictatorship by the joint army.

  • Snorri Godhi

    PS: too bad about the Netherlands and Denmark.
    We’ll do what we can for them, but no guarantees 🙂

  • bobby b

    Most likely is that members split their defense budgets among two entities instead of all to NATO, thus leaving two overarching multinational forces which are weaker than what they had before. Two military forces just multiply command and admin and overhead, leaving less for the spear tip which tends to get the leavings.

  • Stuart Noyes

    The eu will want obedience, and loyalty. Will they get that from their 400 million citizens?

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    Also, will they want a European Navy? Are you going to feel a strong nudge to give Europeans better access to your fishing grounds?

  • A crisis is a terrible thing to waste. The people who planned to watch Russia overrun the Ukraine inside a week, and then continue being green in word and energy-dependent on Putin in deed, have now thought about how to exploit the unforeseen turn of events.

    What does a Eurocratic army offer that NATO doesn’t? Well, Soros told them they needed much better

    “legal tools for disciplining member states”

    but – especially when the defendant is a state – legal tools need a means of enforcement; an army, for example. A European army can also be an excuse for weakening (and, in time, ending the existence of) member states’ own armies.

    bobby b (May 3, 2022 at 8:32 pm) I agree the peoples of member states will likely oppose losing their armies, or the Eurocrats having one, but Europe’s ruling parties are full of Quislings.

    Meanwhile, re the Clegg-Farage debate, I predict yet another example of the woke law of merited impossibility.

    “That will never happen! (And what a good thing it did!!)”

    Who here thinks it likely that Clegg or Miliband will ever admit their assurances of the past were unsound, or ever would admit they were wrong if such an army were indeed created in 2024, say? 🙂

    Natalie and I, in an 2021 post and its thread, expanding on the words of the (then just) late Brian Micklethwait, produced a Eurocratic variant of the woke law of merited impossibility – not “That will never happen – and what a good thing it did” so much as “Your wicked misrepresentation of our proposal – has just become EU case law.” If the EU gets its army, I predict my wicked misrepresentation of its purpose – will soon enough become EU policy.

  • Alan Peakall

    Trawling back to 2006, I find that Paul Marks and I collaboratively developed the characterization of the four stage EU regulatory process:

    * There is no such proposal, you are paranoid

    * There is such a proposal, but it has little support

    * There was such a proposal, but it was defeated in a diplomatic triumph for the incumbent national government

    * This was agreed ages ago, why are you bringing it up now?

  • Alan Peakall (May 4, 2022 at 10:17 am), I clicked on your link and read Paul’s old post. In the fight against the latest evils, one forgets how vile ‘new labour’ were. The third and fourth lines of my poem were first and foremost about remoaner Tories, but Alan’s post reminds me of Blair – and recalled those in Labour today who would ‘repair’ his memory.

    In the last comment of my poem’s post, Paul offers to stand me a drink if a fishing-related Brexit point is actually achieved. Arguably I must wait till 2024 before taking him up on it – so (as Paul says) we’ll see.

    That post’s second commenter quotes the lines of a most-apt (then and now) Gilbert and Sullivan song.

  • Jacob

    Perry:
    “We have NATO.”
    You mean we have the US to protect us. You haven’t yet heard that the US army is obsessed, like the whole country, with integrating LBQGTU and with climate change.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    I agree with the commenters who have said that an EU army would probably just be a second-rate copy of NATO. It took a decade or to to make NATO itself work, in the sense of finding successful ways to run a multi-national force, and of course NATO has its own problems and we do not know how it would fare in the big test. I am in no hurry to find out! My question at the end was more a “shower thought” than a serious recommendation. However I will never again show clips of that exchange between Farage and Clegg with the same told-ya-so glee as before, not because of Clegg’s part in it but because of Farage’s. His admiring attitude to Putin has not aged well.

  • Mark

    @Alan Peakall

    Methinks you have omitted the fifth stage: total and utter clusterfuck

  • In the last 2000 years, Europe has been a collection of Socialistic duchies with the larger ones lording it over the lesser ones. In 2000 years, little seems to have changed. A Euro army would be controlled by whomever makes the biggest contributions to it either manpower or money.

  • Sam Duncan

    If the EU makes its own army, does that mean its member states disband theirs?

    That’s not the EU’s MO. It hollows out the substance of nationhood while leaving its trappings intact, so as not to alarm the peasantry. The national militaries will remain, but come under Brussels’ command. As Niall suggests, think NATO but with “legal tools for disciplining member states”.

    I agree with the commenters who have said that an EU army would probably just be a second-rate copy of NATO.

    It may work within NATO. Or it may not. Hard to say. It’s worth reading about the Treaty of Brussels and its termination. The process of transferring the mutual defence of Europe from the international WEU to the supranational EU Common Security and Defence Policy has been going on for a very long time indeed.

  • Alan and Niall:

    That sounds like it could have been a Yes, Minister skit.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Niall:

    What does a Eurocratic army offer that NATO doesn’t? Well, Soros told them they needed much better

    “legal tools for disciplining member states”

    but – especially when the defendant is a state – legal tools need a means of enforcement; an army, for example.

    That is the reason to have a strong army between Germany and Russia: to resist “enforcement” (legal or extra-legal) from both the EU and Russia.

    Europe’s ruling parties are full of Quislings.

    Not in Poland or Hungary; and in several other EU countries, the ruling parties have good reasons to be concerned about a return to power of the “europhobes”.

  • Charles Crawford

    Most member states will use their veto to stop any plan to abolish the veto in this area. No national politician dares let the EU send his/her nationals into war if that country objects. Usual EU #federalfantady stuff

  • Nathan

    How about a more contentious proposal:
    The EU should have a joint World Cup (FIFA) team. No more nationalist identities.

    Doing that would prove they’re really serious. 😉

  • Johnathan Pearce

    If there’s a EU army, that would make the unresolved N Ireland border issue post-Brexit even more difficult and toxic.

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