EU chief Juncker calls for greater defence integration
Published 14/09/2016 | 10:31
The chief of the European Union's executive arm says the bloc's economic and cultural influence is not enough to safeguard its place in today's uncertain world.
Jean-Claude Juncker added that the community must do more in the defence field - starting with creation of an EU military headquarters and working toward a common military force.
The EU Commission president said in a major speech that the 28-nation organisation "should be stronger" militarily.
He said the EU's actions should take place in a spirit of solidarity with the US-led Nato defence alliance.
"Together we have to make sure that we protect our interests," Mr Juncker told the European Parliament.
He said greater EU defence cooperation also makes economic sense for the bloc's member states, since it would reduce wasteful duplication of effort by individual nations.
More European defence in Europe doesn't mean less trans-Atlantic solidarity," Mr Juncker said.
The vote in June by the UK to withdraw from the European Union would deprive the EU of its militarily most capable member.
France and Germany, the bloc's two most influential member states, recently submitted a proposal for greater EU defence coordination, ranging from creation of a logistics hub for pooling military transport to an EU military headquarters.
Earlier this year, US President Barack Obama called on Europeans to do more in meeting common security threats like the Islamic State extremist group.
"We need a strong Europe to bear its share of the burden, working with us on behalf of our collective security," Mr Obama said in Hannover, Germany, in April.
He added: "I'll be honest, sometimes Europe has been complacent about its own defence."
Mr Juncker said greater defence cooperation also makes economic sense for EU member nations, since it would reduce as much as 100 billion euro worth of wasteful duplication of spending yearly.
He said that by the end of 2016, he also will seek creation of a European defence fund to help spur military-related research and development.