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EUROPEAN Union chief Ursula von der Leyen raised eyebrows over the prospect of an EU army today as she called for more military independence for the economic bloc.
While giving her annual State of the European Union speech in Strasbourg Ms Leyen outlined plans for a defence summit which will be held in France next year.
“It is time for Europe to step up to the next level,” she told the European Parliament. “Europe can, and clearly should, be able and willing to do more on its own.
“The bloc must be able to intervene militarily without the help of the United States, but lacks the political will,” she said.
Proponents of a European military revived the idea in the wake of Washington’s humiliating flight from Afghanistan.
“The need for more European defence has never been as evident as today after the events in Afghanistan,” EU foreign affairs spokesman Joseph Borrell said at a meeting of foreign and defence ministers in Slovenia last week.
He favours a 5,000-strong EU “rapid response force,” which is also supported by chair of the EU military committee Claudio Graziano.
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