An early attempt to integrate the militaries of Western Europe, was the failed 1952 European Defence Community. But since then many politicians, including Guy Verhofstadt, Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy, promised to create a European military. As many of the 27 EU member states are also members of NATO, some EU states cooperate on defense policy (collective security) albeit primarily through NATO rather than through the EU or aligned group (such as the Western European Union). However, the memberships of the EU, WEU, and NATO are distinct, and some EU member states are constitutionally committed to remain neutral on defence issues. Several of the new EU member states were formerly members of the Warsaw Pact.
The EU currently has a limited mandate over defence issues, with a role to explore the issue of European defence agreed to in the Amsterdam Treaty, as well as oversight of the Helsinki Headline Goal Force Catalogue (the 'European Rapid Reaction Force') processes. However, some EU states may and do make multilateral agreements about defence issues outside of the EU structures.
If all the member states' annual spending was taken as a bloc the figure would amount to over $292.7 billion, second only to the US military's $518 billion. However the cumulative effect is much less than it seems due to duplication of capacities in individual militaries. There have been efforts to overcome this with joint projects such as the Eurofighter and through joint procurement of equipment.
'The common security and defence policy shall include the progressive framing of a common defence policy. This will lead to a common defence, when the European Council, acting unanimously, so decides'. (TEU, Article 27)
British ministers initially objected to this clause. They wrote 'We believe that the European Council will not make that decision anytime soon. It is therefore inappropriate for the Treaty to pre-judge the decision of the European Council.' However, British ministers later gave way.
On 23 March 2007, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country held the EU presidency at that time, gave an interview in celebration of the EU's fiftieth birthday, in which she expressed the desire for a unified EU army.
On 14 July 2007 French President Nicolas Sarkozy has called on the EU to create a unified military; soldiers from all 27 EU countries marched through the Champs-Elysees as part of that year's Bastille Day celebrations on the invitation of Sarkozy.
bar:USA from:start till:533
bar:EU from:start till:293
bar:China from:start till:45
bar:Russia from:start till:32
| The hypothetically combined EU military|
budget compared to foreign military powers.
|Country||Defence Budget (USD)|
All figures are from the List of countries and federations by military expenditures
This is a list of European Union/EFTA/Candidate countries sorted by the total number of active troops where the military manpower of a country is measured by the total amount of active troops within the command of that country. Reserved forces which can aid a depleted active military and/or paramilitary are also listed to illustrate a country's total manpower.
|Rank||Nation||Status||Active Service Personnel||Reserve Force||Paramilitary||Total|| Active troops/|
|Tanks||Combat aircraft||Transport aircraft|
|5||United Kingdom||EU member||206,480||233,880||0||440,360||3.41||1175||562||197|
|10||Serbia||Potential EU candidate||74,500||400,000||40,000||440,074,5||41||277||85||68|
|11||Czech Republic||EU member||57,050||0||5,600||62,650||5.57||179||52||71|
|26||Republic of Macedonia||EU candidate||12,850||60,000||7,600||80,450||6.28||31||10|
|27||Republic of Ireland||EU member||10,500||14,000||0||24,500||5.78||0||0||12|