Visegrad EU Member States have called for a joint EU army as their leaders met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Warsaw prior to the Bratislava summit on Europe’s post-Brexit future. The meeting of German, Czech, Polish, Slovak and Hungarian leadership is part of a series of talks ahead of the September 16 summit.
Viktor Orban, Hungary’s Prime Minister said that the EU had to prioritize security when he suggested “let’s start by building a common European army”. His Czech counterpart Bohuslav Sobotka supported Mr Orban by saying that “We should also begin a discussion about creating a common European army.” Poland’s rightwing leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski had supported a common military before, right after Britain’s vote to leave the bloc. Mrs Merkel who is generally supportive of stronger security said that “security is a fundamental issue“ but the German leader also believes that plans and concrete steps should be cautiously gauged. “Brexit is not just any event, it’s a breaking point in the history of EU so we need to work out a very careful response,” she added.
The issue of a common EU army has been traditionally a problematic one. While all Visegrad countries are members of the NATO, six EU members – Austria, Cyprus, Finland, Ireland, Malta and Sweden – are not. Moreover, the relations between the EU and NATO have been at their worst since the Cold War as a result of Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.
Security concerns and the idea of an EU army will be high on the agenda of the upcoming Bratislava summit along with other thorny issues, such as migration policy and the further path of EU integration. While EU members often have opposing views on these issues, Mrs Merkel urged everyone to “find common ground“ despite divisions and focus on ensuring economic wellbeing of the bloc. “ We must be leaders in the area of technology. We want to offer well-paid jobs. We have a lot to do,” she added.