A New Military Force Established In Europe
The European Intervention Initiative: A New Military Force Established In Europe
The predictions have come true about the emergence of a new defense group that will change the European security environment.
On June 25, the defense chiefs from nine EU countries signed off on the creation of a new force called the European Intervention Initiative (EII), which is spearheaded by French President Emmanuel Macron. The new organization will have a common budget and a doctrine establishing its guidelines for acting and joint planning for contingencies in which NATO may not get involved. The group includes the UK, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Estonia, Spain, and Portugal. Italy may join soon. The initiative is not tied to the EU’s Common European Defense, which includes the PESCO agreement as well as NATO. Great Britain has always opposed the idea of creating a European defense alliance, fearing it would undermine transatlantic unity. Now it has done an about-face, as the rifts within the US grow deeper.
The new force is to be much more efficient than anything else the EU has to offer, with a streamlined decision-making process that will permit a quick reaction time. Its relatively small number of members will give it more flexibility in comparison with the EU or NATO. For instance, the EU’s four multinational military battle groups that were created as far back as 2007 have never been deployed.
Its main mission is to offer a rapid response to crises that could threaten European security. The operations are to be conducted independently from US control. The UK will remain a member of this European defense entity even after it leaves the EU next year. Denmark, which retains a special opt-out status and has not joined PESCO, is a signatory to the EII. This is a step on the path to creating a real European armed force to unite non-EU participants with those who keep their distance from the European deterrent headed by Brussels. If the process gains traction, Norway, a NATO member that is outside the EU, plus Sweden and Finland, which are EU members outside of NATO, may consider joining the EII as well. Sweden and Finland are already members of the UK Joint Expeditionary Force.
Will it undermine NATO? To a certain extent it will. Any defense group outside the alliance that acts independently weakens it. At the same time, this gives NATO an opportunity to focus on the European theater of operations without being distracted by other hot spots. Any coin has two sides. Afghanistan is an example of NATO solidarity but is also an example of how a crisis that takes place outside of the alliance’s primary area of responsibility has weakened NATO’s standing in Europe.
Europeans have participated in the operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, conflicts in which they have no interest, in order to please the US. The real threat to Europe comes from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The planned creation of migrant reception centers in Africa may require military involvement. Washington views Europe’s migrant crisis as a far-flung problem that does not directly impact its own national security interests. NATO forces Europeans to focus more on the so-called Russian threat that no one takes seriously, despite the fact that defending its own borders is a pressing issue.