Mehr News Agency – German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday she supports the idea of a joint European defense force, adding that the initiative could be open to British participation post Brexit.
Merkel’s French counterpart Emmanuel Macron has been pushing for the creation of a combined EU military force that could be deployed to trouble spots around the world. The idea had so far received a frosty reception in Berlin, with defense minister Ursula von der Leyen saying the idea is “not an imminent project for tomorrow.” Merkel’s intervention represents a significant change of tone.
“I am in favor of President Macron’s proposal for an intervention initiative,” Merkel said, reported Politico. Merkel said the initiative “needs to fit into the structure of defense cooperation,” which she said should bring down the number of different EU weapon systems from 180 to “about 30.”
“With this, we will already develop more European unity. This will need to be complemented by joint strategic action in [military] deployment.” Merkel said it is important for the EU to vote through the next Multiannual Financial Framework before the next EU election.
The German leader also supported Macron’s idea of inviting Britain — which has the second-largest army in the EU — to join that force even after it leaves the bloc. “We can additionally open that initiative to a country like Great Britain,” Merkel said.
Germany’s Bundeswehr would not need to participate in all such European missions, Merkel said, and would join “to the extent of the possibilities of a parliamentary army.”