Hanso: Need for EU army still not clear
The European Union’s member states were not planning to set up a European army, Defence Minister Hannes Hanso (SDE) said on Wednesday. Hanso took part in a meeting of EU defense ministers in Bratislava on Tuesday.
“The citizens are waiting for the European Union and its member states to protect them better,” Hanso was quoted saying on Tuesday evening after the meeting. “My message to colleagues was that the European countries have to increase their monetary contribution to developing their defensive capability,” he added.
According to Hanso, the defense expenses of EU countries differ substantially. There are only five countries, Estonia being one of them, that spend at least 2% of GDP on national defense. “A positive trend is that defense expenses of European countries after declining for years are once again increasing,” he said.
The EU could only use its full weight if its member states had adequate military power that they are ready to use for the EU, for instance for joint military operations, Hanso added.
Hanso confirmed that the EU member states were not planning to set up a joint army. “The European defense ministers are generally hesitant about whether it is necessary to create military structures that would duplicate NATO,” he said, adding that the existing structures should be used better.
The defense ministers discussed the proposal to set up a EU military headquarters. They found that it was not clear yet if there was a need at all. “The coordination of European military operations needs to improve, but the question is if setting up a new headquarters is the best solution,” Hanso said.