German Chancellor Angela Merkel removed one of the biggest barriers to the creation of a European Army on Tuesday when she told a German newspaper that she supported the idea "in principle," according to RT.
"I am in favor of President Macron’s proposal for an intervention initiative," the German chancellor told Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper on Sunday.
The topic has been under discussion since September, when French President Emmanuel Macron laid out his vision for a pan-European "military intervention force" with a shared military budget funded by aggregated tax receipts and supervised by a single finance minister. Macron's vision - which is central to his integrationist message - was similar to a proposal laid out during a speech last summer by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who declared at the time that "soft power alone is not powerful enough."
In his speech, Macron described a European military that could protect the continent by deploying to hotspots around the globe, just like NATO does. But why can't Europe just rely on NATO? Because, as Merkel has pointed out, NATO is de facto controlled by the US, and the US "can no longer be relied on to protect us."
Whatever form it eventually takes, the European defense force must "fit into the structure of defense cooperation," Merkel said.
"However, such an intervention force with a common military-strategic culture must fit into the structure of defense cooperation," she said.
She added that the Bundeswehr "must, in principle, be part of such an initiative," but that it "doesn’t mean that we are to be involved in every mission."
"European defense cooperation is very important. Of the 180 weapon systems that currently co-exist in Europe, we must move to a situation like the United States, which has only about 30 weapons systems," Merkel said.
Until now, talks about creating a defense force have been complicated by Berlin's cautious approach to the initiative. EU leaders signed off on a scaled-down version of Macron's EU Army in December when they signed the harmless-sounding Permanent Structured Cooperation - or PESCO - pact.