The European Union is a political and economic partnership among 28 member states, and soon, the EU could be a military union as well, as Seeker's Jules Suzdaltsev explains in this video.
Although each member state has its own armed forces, a joint EU military force had once been just a concept, one objected to by the United Kingdom. Following the Brexit vote in June, in which U.K. citizens elected to pull out of the European Union, a pan-European military force is within reach. And in fact, just last month the EU's foreign policy chief rolled out a timetable for developing one.
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EU president Jean-Claude Juncker also endorsed the idea last month, calling for the establishment of a permanent EU military headquarters. A common force would complement NATO and stimulate military research and development, Juncker explained in his annual address.
Even if there currently is no EU military, member states are participants in mutual defense agreements. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is one such agreement that binds 22 of the 28 EU countries, four non-EU countries -- Albania, Iceland, Turkey and Norway -- as well as the United States and Canada.
Article 42 of the Treaty of the European Union outlines a "common security and defense policy," and calls for a joint response to any armed aggression on the territory of one of its member states. These commitments, however, are defined within a framework of each EU nation having its own national military force.
Currently, the only joint military operations among EU nations are what are known as EU Battlegroup, rotating armies comprised of around 1,500 troops that participate in non-offensive military activities, such as humanitarian and peacekeeping work.
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The creation of an EU military requires the unanimous approval of all member states. And even with the United Kingdom due to make its exit from the union, other countries are also skeptical of the idea of signing onto a pan-European force.
Many of the criticisms echo past misgivings held by member states over EU policies that chip away at national sovereignty. The specter of Brussels bureaucrats making decisions that override national interests is a powerful incentive for countries to think carefully before signing onto any agreement.
-- Talal Al-Khatib
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