The European Union is becoming a “superpower” that is indispensable to world peace, the bloc’s foreign affairs chief said earlier today (10 November), as Europe continued to react to Donald Trump’s US election victory.
“In the months and years ahead, actually I can say in the hours we are living, there is and will be an increasing demand of Europe from our neighbours and from our partners worldwide,” Federica Mogherini said.
“There is and there will be an increasing demand for a principled global security provider, for a superpower that believes in multilateralism and cooperation,” Mogherini said in an address to the European Defence Agency.
Trump’s stunning win has shocked a Europe that is fearful his “America First” campaign pledge will see Washington downgrade ties with both NATO and the EU, ties that have underpinned the Western political order since World War II.
During the campaign, Trump labelled NATO “largely obsolete” and criticised the amount of money that is spent on the intergovernmental military alliance. It remains to be seen, like most of his campaign promises and claims, whether he will follow through on the rhetoric.
The EU has already started pushing ahead with plans for a European army in the wake of another geopolitical shock: crucial defence player Britain’s vote to leave the bloc.
Some EU states such as France and Germany see Brexit as an opportunity to press ahead with defence cooperation that London has long blocked, and analysts have said the same could be true if Trump were to turn his back on Europe.
“It is up to us. In a changing global landscape, Europe will be more and more an indispensable power,” Mogherini said.
“This is the time I believe to take on our responsibilities and to respond to that call (for security) … and we can do this only as a true union,” the High Representative added.
European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker has repeatedly spoken of the need for a “European army” while Mogherini has published an ambitious Global Strategy to turn pledges of increased cooperation into reality.
France and Germany moved quickly after the June Brexit vote to put plans for a an EU military headquarters on the table.
They and Mogherini have been careful, however, to stress they do not intend to duplicate NATO efforts, a no-go area for Washington.
The EU does not have a separate military arm but has mounted several small civil-military missions, for example in Central Africa and combatting piracy off the Horn of Africa.
The EDA is a small unit set up to help coordinate efforts to boost overall EU defence capabilities by increasing cooperation among member states.