In the Wake of UK Brexit, Italian General Seeks to Create European Army

In the Wake of UK Brexit, Italian General Seeks to Create European Army

MILITARY & INTELLIGENCE 22:00 25.08.2016(updated 03:55 26.08.2016)

Now that the United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union, a former Italian general is using the decision as justification for the creation of a continental army.

While the creation of a European Army has long been discussed, the notion was reportedly held up by the UK. Even before Brexit, London kept the EU at arm’s length, hesitant to foot the bill for continental projects.

Now that the UK has voted to leave, Gen. Vincenzo Camporini, the head of the Italian general staff, has argued that this is the ideal time to create an all-EU military.

“The UK always opposed funding increases, and three quarters of the agency’s budget is absorbed by salaries, leaving it as a body whose scope is survival. It was clear that after its early enthusiasm, UK sentiment for EU defense cooled,” Camporini said, according to Defense News.

“The UK’s opposition to setting up the EU military HQ put a stop to it.”

The Italian general was one of four military officials who formed the Helsinki Headline Goal, laying the groundwork for a European army that would consist of multinational battle groups led by a central EU headquarters.

Some of these battle groups have already been formed, but the structure for a fully-realized military organization is far from complete.

“Those that exist have never been tested,” Camporini said. “When will we follow the NATO example and have annual exercises?”

While British involvement was thought to be crucial, given the military standing of the UK, a decline in naval capabilities means that the UK is no longer a priority.

“If anyone had proposed building a European capability in 1999 without the UK, I would have said they were crazy, but during the last few years, UK governments have been greedy with the peace dividend and they gave up their sea projection capability, which they will not get back before their new carriers arrive,” Camporini said.

The idea of establishing an EU army has a number of critics who point out that it would be redundant at best, given the role of the NATO alliance, and only serve to escalate tensions, at worst.

    “I believe that under the present circumstances this project makes no sense at all. The EU members are divided on this issue simply because they don’t know how this army could possibly be used,” Miklas said.

“[Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav] Sobotka mentions the situation in Ukraine, the Middle East, Turkey, etc., but why should a European army get enmeshed in the war going on in the Middle East, in Syria, which the US helped to set off? And whose side would it fight on there? Of the Americans, who are pursuing their own interests there, or the Russians? The answer is clear; it would side with the Americans, thus strengthening their hand.”

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