European Defence: Force for Europe

With a new defence capability, Europe has finally decided to give itself the power of the gun. But who will control the new force, how will it buy its weapons and will it ever give taxpayers real bang for the buck – or the Euro?

The World Today Updated 27 October 2020 Published 1 June 2000 4 minute READ

Wyn Rees

Senior Lecturer in Iternational Relations and Deputy Director, CEPI

Jorg Monar

Director, Centre for European Politics and Institutions (CEPI), University of Leicester

The European Union has taken the first tentative steps towards becoming a defence actor. It is half a century since the states of Europe last tried to create a defence structure as part of the integration process. At that time, the European Defence Community was to include a European minister of defence, an integrated, 100,000-strong army and a common weapons budget.

The treaty collapsed in August 1954 prior to ratification with countries such as Britain against joining. The then Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, dismissed the force as likely to be little more than a ‘sludgy amalgam’ amongst contributing nations. The current British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has quite a different attitude to recent developments.

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