French president Emmanuel Macron has compared the current political landscape in Europe to that of the 1930’s and said that the EU needs a “real…army” to protect itself from outside threats.
Speaking to the French TV channel Europe 1, Macron said he was struck by two things that reminded him of the interwar period in Europe: “the fact that our Europe was shaken by a deep economic and financial crisis (…) and a rise of nationalisms that play on fears.”
“Europe is more and more fractured,” Macron continued. “Nationalism is on the rise again. This nationalism that demands the closing of borders, which advocates the rejection of the other. We need a stronger Europe, which protects,” said the President who denied that he was stoking fear. “It’s about being aware of what we are and what we are experiencing: the peace and prosperity in which Europe has lived for 70 years has been a golden break in our history.”
Turning to the EU’s external relations Macron called for the creation of a “true European army” to allow the EU defend itself in what he said was an increasingly dangerous world. “We will not protect Europeans if we do not decide to have a real European army. Faced with Russia, which is on our borders and has shown that it can be threatening (…) We need a Europe which defends itself better alone, without just depending on the United States, in a more sovereign manner.”
Macron said the biggest victims of the recent US decision to withdraw from a Cold War nuclear disarmament treaty will be “Europe and its security”.
US President Donald Trump has strongly criticised European countries for failing to contribute sufficiently to NATO and depending on Washington to pick up Europe’s defence bill.
Since 2017 EU countries have been able to voluntarily increase their military cooperation by contributing to multinational battle groups capable of deploying at short notice. Twenty-five of the 28 member states have signed up to the initiative, known as ‘Permanent Structured Cooperation,’ with Malta, Denmark and the United Kingdom opting out.