Emmanuel Macron calls to build new sovereign European Army
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And former Brexit Party MEP Ben Habib has taken the opportunity to pour cold water on the bloc’s ambitions for an EU army in light of the research, published by the Facts4EU think tank today. The report used Eurostat figures to show the UK currently spends 2.0 percent of GDP on defence, one of just three European nations to do so, the others being Estonia (2.1 percent) and Greece (also 2 percent).
Emmanuel Macron’s France spends just 1.7 percent, and Angela Merkel’s Germany just 1.1 percent. Overall, the average among the EU27 is 1.2 percent.
Additionally, the UK spent £46.9billion on defence in 2019, far higher than the next-biggest spender, France, on £35.8billion.
Mr Habib, a long-term critic of the ambitions, often voiced by Mr Macron, for a European army, told Express.co.uk Facts4EU’s report effectively proved his point.
He explained: “One of the reasons the West’s influence has been diminishing across the Globe is because for too long Europe has been spoilt by the US.
“Spoilt by the US putting its protective blanket around our continent.”
EU member states in particular had sat back and failed to meet their NATO commitments, Mr Habib said.
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France and Germany have taken the opportunity to shirk their obligations and focus on domestic matters, at our cost
He added: “France and Germany have taken the opportunity to shirk their obligations and focus on domestic matters, at our cost. So much for a level playing field!
“The only saving grace of the EU’s military weakness is their emerging army is unlikely to be a threat to us for a while yet.”
Meanwhile Facts4EU spokesman David Evans told Express.co.uk: “With the tragic loss of life at the gates of Kabul airport on Thursday, and the revelations about the US military’s abandonment of tens of billions of dollars of cutting-edge military equipment to the Taliban, it’s easy for the EU’s role in Afghanistan to be overlooked.
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“It should surely be asked why EU countries were not contributing far more to the efforts in Afghanistan in the past 20 years.
“Facts4EU.Org’s report today may go some way to shedding some light on this.
“Despite the EU’s aspirations to be a global military power, the record of its member countries to date in the defence sphere has been positively underwhelming.
“Our report today and last Wednesday’s shows clearly how the United Kingdom has done the majority of the heavy lifting when it comes to defence, amongst European countries.”
Mr Macron raised eyebrows with an interview with the Economist in 2019 in which he said: “What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO.”
The French leader claimed Europe was standing on “the edge of a precipice”, and needed to start thinking of itself strategically as a geopolitical power.
Otherwise, he warned, “we will no longer be in control of our destiny”.
More recently, Arch-Brexit critic Guy Verhofstadt stirred up controversy on Twitter earlier this month with his remarks on the subject.
He posted: “Afghanistan once more shows armies are crucial to the security of our citizens & allies abroad.
“EU countries need to do that together: cooperate & integrate forces so our people, interests & values are protected.
“Think beyond taboos or caricatures: an EU army is common sense!”
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