Ulster MEPs slam calls for a European army

A European army would have no tangible benefit, said Jim Nicholson
A European army would have no tangible benefit, said Jim Nicholson

Northern Ireland’s MEPs have unanimously opposed calls by the European Commission president for an EU army.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker made the call last weekend to a German newspaper.

Mr Juncker said: “Such an army would help us to build a common foreign and national security policy, and to collectively take on Europe’s responsibilities in the world.”

He added: “It would show Russia that we are serious when it comes to defending the value of the European Union.”

But Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg branded Mr Juncker a “dangerous fantasist” and insisted it was “not going to happen”.

UUP MEP Jim Nicholson added that the calls were “fundamentally misguided, and are more about the EU’s own inflated self-importance than the security of Europe”.

“There is absolutely no mandate for the UK Government to give up its defence and foreign policy responsibilities to Brussels bureaucrats,” he said.

He could not see how the army would help national governments to meet their Nato commitments.

“A European army comes with much cost, both financially and in terms of security. Yet there would be no tangible benefit nor is there any reason to believe it would add anything to our military capabilities.”

DUP MEP Diane Dodds said a European army would only work in the context of a European federal state.

“There clearly are those at the heart of Europe, however, who would like to see such a fantasy become reality,” she said.

“The proposal for such an army is not only a blatant attempt to undermine the sovereignty of states such as the United Kingdom, but it also makes no sense from a military point of view.”

Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson added that her party is opposed to the creation of a European army and instead promotes “Irish neutrality”.

“The potential creation of a European army is a threat to Irish sovereignty and Sinn Féin raised concerns about this issue prior to the enactment of the Lisbon Treaty,” she said.

Sinn Féin will “continue to promote Irish neutrality, she added.