Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

DOWN TO EARTH

DR Congo's reconciliation farm

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Google Was Making A Space Elevator And A Hoverboard, But Couldn't Get Them To Work

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

A bitter pill to swallow

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Investors take fright over Google results

Read more

DEBATE

What's Putin's Plan? Kiev Accuses Russia of Terrorism

Read more

DEBATE

What's Putin's Plan? Kiev Accuses Russia of Terrorism (part 2)

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Rwandan singer amongst terror plot suspects

Read more

FOCUS

Campaigning against Bouteflika's re-election... in France

Read more

WEB NEWS

Chile: Online mobilization to help Valparaiso fire victims

Read more

  • Wheelchair-bound Bouteflika votes in Algerian election

    Read more

  • Films by four French directors short-listed for Cannes' top prize

    Read more

  • Pro-Russian separatists killed in attack on Black Sea base

    Read more

  • Frantic search for survivors of sunken South Korea ferry

    Read more

  • India heads to polls in single largest day of voting

    Read more

  • Man executed in Texas for 2002 triple murder

    Read more

  • Scandal-hit French doctor Jacques Servier dies at 92

    Read more

  • Belgian head of wildlife reserve shot in DR Congo

    Read more

  • Crunch talks on Ukraine begin in Geneva

    Read more

  • Stagehand of God? Maradona's legendary goal inspires a play

    Read more

  • US rolls out red carpet for French critic of capitalism

    Read more

  • N. Korea not amused by London hair salon's Kim Jong-un ad

    Read more

  • Real Madrid beat old foes Barcelona to lift Copa del Rey

    Read more

  • France's new PM targets welfare in drive to cut spending

    Read more

  • Campaigning against Bouteflika's re-election... in France

    Read more

  • Brazil club Mineiro cancel Anelka signing after no-show

    Read more

  • Syria 'torture' photos silence UN Security Council members

    Read more

  • Paris laboratory loses deadly SARS virus samples

    Read more

  • More than 100 schoolgirls kidnapped in northeast Nigeria

    Read more

  • New York police disband unit targeting Muslims

    Read more

  • 'Miracle girl' healthy after seven-organ transplant in Paris

    Read more

  • Paris police memo calling for Roma eviction ‘rectified’

    Read more

  • Burgundy digs into France's bureaucratic 'mille-feuille'

    Read more

  • French court drops ‘hate speech’ case against Bob Dylan

    Read more

Europe

Why has the EU’s army never been deployed?

© Austrian Army

Text by Gaëlle LE ROUX

Latest update : 2013-12-20

As France urges the EU to create a fund to finance military operations of member states, FRANCE 24 takes a look at the pan-European army that was established nine years ago – but has yet to be deployed.

One year after proving reticent to join France’s military intervention in Mali, the EU is balking at the prospect of sending troops to bolster French soldiers currently in the Central African Republic.

But at a year-end summit of European leaders that kicked off Thursday in Brussels, French President François Hollande appeared determined to increase EU involvement and investment in his country’s military operations.

To that end, he has suggested the creation of a common European fund that could finance such operations – even when they are undertaken by a single member state.

“France esteems that its operations in Mali and the Central African Republic are in the best interests of all EU countries, so there’s no reason for the French to be the only ones paying,” explained Federico Santopinto, a specialist in EU conflicts at the Group for Research and Information on Peace and Security (GRIP) in Brussels.

But Hollande’s proposal has received only lukewarm support.

An EU army waiting in the wings

Europe already has a joint, 28-member military initiative, consisting of tactical “battle groups” that can be swiftly deployed to prevent international conflicts or reinforce global security. The groups were launched in 2004 and have been fully operational since 2007, with 1,500 soldiers permanently on standby and member states alternating command of the units.

According to regulations that have been laid out, the battle groups can begin an intervention ten days after the European Council approves a road map for the operation. Their missions must last at least one month, but can be prolonged by the European Council for an additional three months.

On paper, the “European army” is efficient and credible. But the battle groups have never, in the seven years that they have been waiting in the wings, seen action.

There have been times when their deployment was conceivable. In 2007, the UN called for European military support in both Chad and Darfur to deal with large-scale humanitarian crises. The European battle groups were ready to leave, but the EU decided to assemble a different army – called Eufor Chade – tailored specifically for the mission, arguing that Chad was neither a priority nor an emergency.

And in both 2008 and 2012, the UN asked Europe to send the battle groups to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in an effort to bolster the “blue helmets” (the UN peacekeeping mission) in their effort to combat sexual violence in the country. But due to a lack of consensus between the 28 member states, the groups were never deployed.

‘Putting the horse before the carriage’

The European affairs blog Bruxelles2 has recently reported that the EU will not be sending its army to the Central African Republic anytime soon. In December, the EU’s foreign affairs chief, Catherine Ashton, said that the UK had not signed off on any deployment of the groups. British officials, traditionally closely aligned with the US on military matters, have made it clear that they consider European security to be NATO’s domain.

“Theoretically, the battle groups could have intervened in the Central African Republic, but also in Mali,” Santopinto noted. “But the problem is that the EU has never carried out any major unified military operation. By creating a common military force without determining a common foreign policy, the European Council put the horse before the carriage.”

Without a common foreign policy, it is indeed difficult for the EU to arrive at the 28-member consensus needed for a deployment of its troops – especially since the regulations stipulate that the two or three countries assuming the rotating leadership of the battle groups finance the operation almost exclusively.

In other words, mobilising the troops essentially amounts to mission impossible. “Hollande’s proposal to create a common EU fund to finance any one member state’s military operation is an admission of the failure of the battle groups,” Santopinto concluded. “It’s a back-up plan to compensate for the fact that Europe is not using the tools it has at its disposal.”
 

Date created : 2013-12-20

  • EUROPEAN UNION

    EU loses AAA credit rating

    Read more

  • EUROPE

    EU agrees on ‘historic’ banking union ahead of summit

    Read more

  • SYRIA

    Amnesty slams EU for failing Syrian refugees in satirical video

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)