Guy Verhofstadt discusses ‘weaknesses’ within the EU
One of the most vocal proponents of an EU army is Mr Verhofstadt, Belgium’s former Prime Minister and MEP who was chair of the EU’s Brexit coordination group.
On numerous occasions Mr Verhofstadt has drawn-up doomsday scenarios that he says prove the EU needs to amass a military worthy of challenging as a global defence powerhouse.
At an ALDE conference in 2018, the Belgian warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin, if he wished, could descend on Europe with his army and leave the continent helpless.
Guy Verhofstadt: The Belgian politician admitted that the EU is vulnerable to Putin’s military might
EU army: Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron are said to be interested in the idea of a common army
Setting out his vision for a “new Europe”, he said: “A truly sovereign Europe, able to protect its borders, able to protect its interests, is the next thing that we need to do.
“To stand up, if necessary against Putin.
“Do you know what the figures are? European countries are spending 40 to 45 percent of the budget of the American army.
“But we are only capable of fulfilling 10 to 15 percent of the operations of the American army.
Russia: Verhofstadt said the EU would likely succumb to Russia’s military forces
“I am a lawyer, but even I know that we are three to four times less efficient than the Americans.
“Moreover, the reality is we spend three times more than the Russian Federation on military, but I’m not sure that if the Russian army came towards our borders that we are capable of defending ourselves without American help.
“It was President Macron in a speech during the commemoration of the First World War who said, ’28 different armies, it’s a waste of money and at the same time it’s also a danger for our collective security and that has to change in Europe’.
“So, that’s our project.”
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Liberal Democrats: Verhofstadt spoke at a Lib Dem conference in London ahead of the 2019 election
Bundeswehr: Germany’s individual states are not allowed to have armed forces
With plans for an EU army now appearing to become more present within the bloc, Wolfgang Schäuble, the Bundestag President and CDU politician, was recently asked whether a “closely interlinked Franco-German defence community would fail because both states have a contradicting basic understanding of the deployment of the army?”
It came during an interview with the German publication Welt, to which Mr Schäuble replied: “The Bundeswehr is not a real parliamentary army, otherwise, as President of the Bundestag, I would be the Commander-in-Chief. Thank God I was spared of that.
“But you are right about parliamentary scrutiny: we have to move more than the French. That’s why I was hoping for the Aachen contract.
“For example, I could have imagined a regulation where members of a joint chamber of the French National Assembly and the Bundestag decide on an operation if the two governments consider it right.
“If we could achieve that, the Franco-German brigade could finally be awakened from their sleep.”
Russian Military: Putin has a powerful military presence
When asked if the bloc had immediate plans, he said any such move would unlikely take place before the upcoming federal elections in September.
France’s former Defence Minister Sylvie Goulard, who was also interviewed, suggested her country would be willing to form a “common army with the Germans”.
She said: “Most of the French would not have any reservations about forming a common army with the Germans.
“It would only have to be debated beforehand what purpose this army should have. What resources do we want to make available to it?”
Wolfgang Schäuble: The Bundestag president said any EU army agreements would not yet happen
Since 2016, there has been significant movement by the EU to bolster its community defences.
According to the European Parliament, 75 percent on the continent is in favour of a common EU defence and security policy.
A slim majority of 55 percent favour the creation of an EU army, while 68 percent of Europeans say they would like the EU to do more on defence.