While it will create an EU fighting force, it falls short of the army some European leaders dream of building
A general view of the meeting room of the EU foreign and defense ministers at the Europa building in Brussels, Belgium, March 21, 2022 © AP / Olivier Matthys
On Monday, the European Union approved Strategic Compass – a bloc-wide common defense strategy that will create an EU deployment force of 5,000 troops. While such a move is a historic first for the bloc, it is substantially more modest than the EU army proposed by France’s Emmanuel Macron.
The “European Union just approved Strategic Compass,” Latvian FM Edgars Rinkēvičs announced, following a meeting of European defense and foreign ministers in Brussels earlier in the day. The plan provides a “necessary toolbox for the EU to become a real geopolitical defense and security player together with NATO,” he said, and is only the “beginning of the journey” for the bloc’s military future.
The plan itself has been around since 2020, when it was proposed by the European Council. Since then it has been criticized by those Eastern European countries that prefer to rely on NATO and its US muscle for their defense needs, and by commentators in neutral Ireland, who sought assurances that only peacekeeping missions be undertaken by the bloc, and that the UN be given a central role in decision-making.