The EU would have “the second most powerful military” in the world if its members pooled its resources, insisted the co-director of the Institute of Studies on Conflict and Humanitarian Action in an interview with EurActiv Spain.
“If we added the capabilities we have in the EU together, we would automatically become the second most powerful military force on Earth and the reason we aren’t is because there is no political will. This is because each national government would rather be the head of a mouse rather than the tail of a lion,” said Jesús Núñez, a conflict analyst.
According to Núñez, the EU has reached a point where it has to decide whether “to remain the eternal adolescent, going cap in hand to its parents, the US within the framework of NATO, at the weekend because it doesn’t want to fly the nest and be responsible for its actions” or finally become “master of its own destiny and focus on European defence”.
The problem with defence is that it is one of the few policy areas that has not been delegated to Brussels and Núñez identified three reasons for this “resistance” to integration on the matter: “We have one group of countries that think of themselves as the same as each other, as Europeans, who are committed to European defence; we have another that are ‘Atlantic-ists’ who would rather strengthen ties across the pond with the US; then we have another group, the most difficult to understand, the neutrals.”
He added that “Austria, Ireland and others are playing at being neutral” in a globalised world where “anything anywhere can affect us”.
Núñez denounced the EU leadership for not being able to think “beyond the short term”.
Not just in the area of defence either, Núñez added that it would be “a brutal blow” for the EU if the UK were to vote out of the union in June.
However, the Spanish analyst believes that “the UK has no desire to commit political suicide and will vote to stay in” and that “London does not want to leave the most exclusive club in the world, with an unparalleled level of security and welfare”.
Beyond the Brexit issue, the problem with the EU’s current institutional and economic crises is that they favour a ‘head-in-the-sand’ approach that prevents long-term strategic thinking and solutions to problems such as jihadist terrorism, according to Núñez, adding: “I’m not saying that a military component is not a part of the response, I’m saying that it cannot be.”
Instead, the response should be “the implementation of EU asylum and refugee policies, collaboration on judicial and economic matters and political development that favours integration models, in order to curb radicalisation”, he insisted.
In terms of foreign policy, Núñez urged the EU not to “put our values and principles on one side and our interests on the other, by supporting a coup in Egypt, then maintaining relations with a regime like the Saudi’s, thinking that there won’t be consequences”.