Poland’s Foreign Minister has dismissed the idea of creating an EU army independent of NATO at the Munich Security Conference. Poland, he said, needs “an American presence” to compete with Russia.
Combining the military forces of the EU’s 28 member states has long been a dream of some EU leaders. French President Emmanuel Macron talked up the idea of building a “real European army” to protect Europeans from Russia, China, “and even the US” last year. German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave the idea a thumbs-up, stating that such an army would ensure “there will never again be war between European nations.” The plan also has the support of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
However, the EU is more divided than the cozy relationship between Macron and Merkel suggests. Macron’s vision was rubbished by neutral Austria’s defense minister, and by Dutch PM Mark Rutte. Now, the Polish government has also rejected the idea.
“When we start talking about creating a European army independent of NATO, I think we will have problems,” said Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz. “For repelling the threats we face in central and eastern Europe, we need an American presence, and this is very important.”
Brexit plays a factor in Czaputowicz’ rejection. The UK is the world’s sixth-largest military power and would be a crucial member of any hypothetical EU army, if Britain were to remain an EU member and sign on to the plan.
“We will lose a very important partner in the EU, a second major army in Europe, a country, a nuclear power and a permanent member of the UN Security Council (when Britain leaves),” Czaputowicz added.
In defending itself against the perceived Russian threat, Poland has courted the United States. Polish President Andrzej Duda has offered to pay $2 billion towards setting up a permanent US armored division base in the country, going as far as suggesting that it could be named ‘Fort Trump.’