Recently, there have been numerous calls for the establishment of a European army. Proponents of an all-European force argue that it will diminish Europe’s dependence on the United States when it comes to defence. The context behind these calls is the desire of many European officials to pursue a more autonomous defence and foreign policy. The election of U.S. President Donald Trump, and his shunning of NATO and disregard of numerous treaties that are dear to the EU — for instance, the Nuclear Deal with Iran — has breathed a fresh air of purpose in the decades-old project of a common European army. In the wake of the commemoration services for the First World War’s centenary, both President Macron and Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced their vision for a European army independent of the U.S.
“We should also work on the vision of one day creating a genuine European army. The times in which we could unconditionally rely on others are over,” said the German Chancellor.
Such an army would, many argue, be dependent on the EU’s two largest economies: Germany and France. With the United Kingdom with one hand on the exit doorknob of the EU, only a Franko-German initiative could produce hopes and dreams of an EU army into reality. Under the leadership of President Emmanuel Macron, France seems capable of shouldering its part of the leading role.
Germany, on the other hand, seems miles away — both politically, technologically, and industrially. According to the German Defence Ministry, out of the 97 significant projects that the German Army received in 2017, only 38 were in a combat-ready state — an astounding 39 percent. The projects included tanks, aircraft, and helicopters.
More specifically, brand-new Puma armoured fighting vehicles, NH-90 transport helicopters, Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopters, and A400M military transport aircraft have come off their productions line unfit for combat service with the Bundeswehr. Out of the 71 Pumas delivered in 2017, only 27 were combat-ready; out of seven NH-90s, only four; out of seven Tigers, only two; and only half of the eight A400Ms.
The A400M, which is manufactured by European aerospace giant Airbus, is a transport aircraft with significant airlift capabilities. Airbus describes it as “… the most advanced, proven and certified airlifter available, combining 21st century, state-of-the-art technologies to fulfill the current and upcoming Armed Forces’ needs.”
The current German military expenditures amount to around $45 billion. Calls to increase it by the conservatives have fallen on deaf ears, despite the country’s superb economic performance.