19 min read — Analysis | Opinion | Policy
Prospects of an EU Army:Hopes and Challenges
By Arthur Bertényi
February 24, 2023 | 20:30
- Foreign policy, legal basis, and funding – What goes into constituting an army?
- Foreign Policy
- Legal Basis
- Inconsistency and incompatibility: the diversity in member states’ foreign policies
- Differing views
- United with NATO, but how?
- Fears over sovereignty – The issue of centralisation of command
- The Nuclear Question – or rather, the Nuclear Option
- Cooperation and integration, or starting over? – How to establish an EU army
- Integration? — the language predicament
- Starting over
- Historical and foreign examples – their lessons and their pitfalls
- The US system – Services and National Guards
- The Austro-Hungarian Empire’s example
- Effects on the life of the average European citizen
The dream of European federalisation has existed for almost a century now, both on idealistic and rational bases. One of the chief advantages perceived under a European Federation is unified defence, which would at the very least mean rationalisation regarding Union defence, and could go as far as outright expansion of capabilities.
With each EU member state having some sort of armed force, the Union possesses 27 separate HQ’s, 27 research and development (R&D) departments, 27 procurement offices, and 27 personnel offices, most of which do redundant work. Of course, most of these offices need to exist as no one can expect Germany to do the Portuguese Army’s payroll, but they shouldn’t necessarily need to do near enough the same work 27 times. Indeed, efficiencies are lost when there are parallel systems doing the same thing. R&D, for instance, is a great example where centralisation can be achieved with a net improvement in results.
This article will therefore examine the challenges, obstacles, and possible advantages that lay ahead of a potential EU armed force, and put forward a few possible ways of implementing such a centralisation of armed forces.
Foreign policy, legal basis, and funding – What goes into constituting an army?
A military is dependent on three major factors: (1) Foreign policy, which determines the overarching mission of the military; (2) Legal framework, that determines the authority and bounds of the military; And last but not least (3) funding, because every organisation in the world depends on the funds that are at its disposal and the manner in which those funds are spent.
1. Foreign Policy
Almost every army in the world is in some way, shape or form a reflection of their respective nation’s foreign policy. Countries wary of their neighbours have defensive forces, countries desiring to exert their influence overseas have expeditionary armies and countries that think of their international influence as an overwhelmingly economic exercise may neglect their armed forces. While such policies do not allude to the quality of the fighting men and women, they do reflect institutionally.
Now, the sharp-eyed may have realised that the three countries in the above example are Poland, France, and Germany respectively. They possess distinct foreign policy goals (to which we will come back later) and stated methods to achieve them, which their military policies unsurprisingly reflect.
If a pan-European army is to be conceived, determining our common foreign policy goals are first and foremost. Once we determine our goals, we can work out how we want our army to be constituted. Indeed, a strong defensive deterrent will require different capabilities than an expeditionary force, and should we wish for both, we would need yet a third way to reaching that capability.
Determining said common foreign policy goals may prove more difficult than one might think at first however, as it shall be soon demonstrated.
2. Legal Basis
Once an overarching mission is laid out, a military must have rules. Such a legal basis does not denote regulations such as those governing proper grooming standard or drill, but rather the legal limitations of what an army can and cannot do, and where it may do so.
Many countries, notably Germany, forbid the deployment of the armed forces on their domestic territory with the exception of a very narrow set of circumstances, as to limit the possibility of a military coup attempt, and I can very easily imagine that countries like Poland, Czechia and Hungary wouldn’t exactly be too keen on the idea of the troops of a “union” of any sort to have authority in their territory. This may either be due to the fresh memory of Soviet occupation or because of national governments’ concerns over supposed “loss of sovereignty”.
On the other hand, countries such as France have seemingly no issue deploying army personnel to bolster police presence in areas deemed to be potential targets for terrorism. Here too, there are different ideas to reconcile.
Furthermore, legal basis also contains another, crucial aspect: Command Authority. Those in charge, or those who get to make decisions in crises. As demonstrated by various “revolutionary” armies and militias (notably the PLA of China in their early years), command by committee is a bad idea. The more voices you need to reconcile, the slower your decision making process, a problem compounded by potential veto power. It is perfectly reasonable to debate the how and why of an army during peacetime, but when push comes to shove, someone must be in charge and must make decisions that are not measured in plenary sessions, but at times as short as minutes.
This, unfortunately, constitutes an aspect of a united EU military that may make some people very nervous, but arguably a necessary step to take if an army is to be successful.
Renowned 17th century Habsburg field marshal Raimondo Montecuccoli once said, “what are the things necessary for war, there are three, to wit, money, money and money.”
This is true whether one is at war or just wishes to maintain an armed force ready for one. Most European countries have balked at the idea of significantly funding their standing armies since 1991, when the USSR dissolved and NATO was left seemingly with no adversary. However, as war returns to the continent, many have shifted their mindset. Still, some remain somewhat unsure about how and where to invest their available funds.
It is with this backdrop that the funding for a common or unified EU army must be considered. Where should the funding come from? Is it an expense every member state can determine by themselves? Is it a fixed percentage of GDP? Is it simply a central tax? Or does it just come off of the pool of money member states already pay into the central EU budget?
Depending on what member states may get out of it (or think they get out of it), willingness to pay for a military may vary from member to member. I strongly suspect that there are countries in the 27 who would be perfectly happy to divest most of their army, keep some ceremonial units and tell someone else to take care of it in exchange for a “nominal fee”, while other members would, to use a technical term, “freak out” at the idea of having to pay for an entirely separate military force that they don’t directly control.
Of course the caveat here is that funding is the very last step on the political side of establishing an armed force, so one can assume that if the previous two steps have been achieved, the question of funding will also have been discussed.
Inconsistency and incompatibility: the diversity in member states’ foreign policies
As mentioned, different European countries have differing foreign policy objectives, some that may run directly counter to or compete with each other. I will now describe and compare some of them to demonstrate the different ideas that need to be reconciled.
France’s foreign policy is perhaps best described as being generally focused towards strengthening European cohesion and defence; and keeping an eye on former colonial holdings. France has demonstrated willingness to intervene in civil conflicts and insurgencies in its former colonies, notably Operation Serval in Mali in 2012-13.
France deployed in large scale in the 1991 Gulf War and in 2001 in Afghanistan as part of coalition forces and have taken part in various UN peacekeeping deployments. However, with the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact in 1991, France did not see the need for the extensive capabilities it maintained. Because of this, France’s military underwent several reorganisations, with its army having been downsized ever since. In 1990, the combined size of the French armed forces totalled at 550.000 active personnel, today it amounts to “only” 208.000.
As a result of its overseas commitments, however, France maintains a highly professional, highly trained, and well equipped military, which contains expeditionary and expeditionary-support capabilities, and most importantly, a completely independent nuclear deterrent (the latter part being particularly consequential; more on that in a bit).
Germany’s perspective on foreign policy can be best described as making economic cooperation beneficial, and conflict very much not beneficial. German companies and their subsidiaries popped up like dandelions after a wind storm in former Warsaw Pact nations, setting and deepening economic ties usually to both sides’ benefit. There was of course an associated rapprochement with these nations, somewhat of a natural extension of the Neue Ostpolitik. This of course included Russia that has vast resource reserves.
Prior to the war in Ukraine, a particular line echoed throughout the media: “Russia will never invade Ukraine, doing that would hurt their economy and trade”. For many, this was seen as an evidence, even though the Russian takeover of Crimea in 2014 had had minimal consequences for the Russian economy and thus didn’t serve as much of a deterrent.
This “economic co-dependence” and compromise-oriented foreign policy, Germany’s deep-seated pacifism in most of the mainstream political sphere and geographic circumstances resulted in the German military being left to slow decay post-reunification. The “Armee der Einheit” had found itself in possession of the combined equipment of the Bundeswehr and the Nationale Volksarmee of West and East Germany respectively with no stated enemy. The Bundeswehr essentially lived off of the leftovers, divesting most of the Eastern Block gear, implementing upgrade programmes wherever possible but being caught up in endless red tape and bureaucracy. As some observers put it: “Until February 2022, it seemed like most Germans didn’t really see a point to having an army, and so the issues of the Bundeswehr never had any political wind to get fixed.”
Of course, famously, this approach was seemingly thrown out the window in spectacular fashion following the Russian invasion, whereupon the Bundeswehr was given 100 bn euros to fix itself. However, the issue is that this money has to go through the same procurement agencies that have had difficulties purchasing new paratroop helmets for 8 years now.
Poland, did its best to establish strong ties with the collective West following the fall of the Iron Curtain. They fell into a condition that I termed above as “economic co-dependence with Germany”, and all things considered, Poland has developmentally done rather well for a post-Communist country. While Poland has focused inward and towards the EU in one way or another, the main governing aspect of its foreign policy is best described as distrust of Russia, but also their own allies. If it wasn’t evident enough, the former is written out in black and white in the opening paragraphs of their Foreign Policy strategy document for 2017-2021, and the latter is merely implied in the very same paragraph.
Notwithstanding, Poland has good and historically justifiable reasons to be wary of Russia, as they have time and again fallen under Russia’s (and admittedly others’ in the region) imperial ambitions. However, while most other countries have sought reconciliation for the conflicts of the past, Russia has never done so, and most evidently to this day, has not fully abandoned its imperial ambitions. At the same time, Poland has not yet forgotten the abject betrayal of the Western Allies to abandon Poland to Russia, bringing the country into the Eastern Block. Furthermore, they view the West’s reactions to the 2008 Russo-Georgian War, the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea, the subsequent Donbass War, and the Russian intervention in Syria as severely lacking when these were severe warning signs for Poland and the Baltic countries that Russia is reemerging as a genuine threat. Indeed, Poland has been ringing alarm bells since 2008, which have been mostly ignored with a nod and a smile by France and Germany.
For this reason, Poland has been expanding its military capabilities, already possessing more tanks and SPG’s than France and Germany combined before the war in Ukraine. While the country has donated around 300 tanks to Ukraine and intends to supply yet more, it also intends to expand its tank fleet to around 1600 vehicles and have 300.000 active professional personnel. They also intend to massively build up their domestic defence industrial capability and reduce their dependency on Germany (especially in terms of re-export capacity of German-made weapons systems). The joke goes that “Poland intends to fight the Russians and win”, but that is not actually a joke. Poland doesn’t want to find itself on the receiving end of another Russian invasion and should such an invasion happen, they certainly don’t want to wait for their allies while there is fighting inside Poland proper.
These are only three examples of a variety of different foreign policies within the EU, and serve to illustrate that finding a common line and designing a military mission statement around it is going to be a serious undertaking. While Poland has no issue supporting the eastern flank of the Union, it can hardly empathise with the idea of peacekeeping in France’s former colonial holdings in Africa.
On a political plane, Germany’s stated pacifism and penchant for compromise runs counter to France’s interventionist policy, although in fairness France has recently intervened primarily to counter terrorist organisations, interventions that Germany has endorsed.
However, despite these seemingly conflicting foreign policies, there is nothing intrinsically in opposition between each other. There are diplomatic differences of course (such as Germany and France not recognising Palestine in contrast with Poland and most other ex-WP countries), but there are no fundamental differences that would make it impossible for a unified foreign policy to be formed.
United with NATO, but how?
There exist four EU members who do not form part of NATO and who have not explicitly expressed their intention of joining the organisation: Austria, Ireland, Malta, and Cyprus. All other EU members are part of NATO (with the exception of Finland and Sweden, both of whom are as of time of writing awaiting ratification), which means that a European Army would be a NATO standard army by default, and would likely be integrated into the force structure from day 1.
Admittedly, Austria and Ireland are neutral by treaty. However, I would argue that their clauses are moot, as the USSR doesn’t exist anymore, and its successor state has violated security guarantees that itself has rendered toward another sovereign country, Ukraine. Furthermore, all four aforementioned non-NATO members are part of the EU, which already puts them into a camp, even if not strictly militarily.
Yes, significant political will will be required for all four members to shift their military policies, but a future wherein all EU members form part of NATO is not unimaginable.
Fears over sovereignty – The issue of centralisation of command
As I have alluded to above, in order to have an effective military, someone has to have centralised command responsibility. This is not my opinion, it is merely a fact of life – most militaries that have attempted to be commanded by committee have been beaten by their central command and control opposition. That is not to say that coalitions can’t win wars, or that the staff of an armed force is useless, far from it, it is merely pointing out that ultimately someone must make a decision on the course of action to follow and take responsibility for the outcome.
It is one thing for the EP or the Commission to set a foreign policy and then appoint an Army Chief of Staff and a Commissioner for War, it is another for those appointees to manage and command the armed forces proper.
This poses a problem in a union of sovereign states: there is an entity that maintains an armed force that is not answerable to any member state in particular, but to that entity, which itself is made up of multinational actors that may or may not be aligned with the national interest.
When I put it like this, it seems scary, doesn’t it? Scary as it might sound, I would like to propose that it really isn’t.
Firstly, the elected body of officials are still answerable to the public and their own countries in particular, so in case of ethical breaches, members may still be recalled. Furthermore, while the Commission as the executive branch may appoint or rather propose for appointment members, the Parliament as the legislative branch does or can vote on confirmation.
Secondly, as we have established earlier, there are prerequisites to having an armed force which make it virtually impossible for it to be born a loose cannon that may bulldoze its way across the deck. The establishment of a common foreign policy already requires closer cooperation and the establishment of legal bases for the formation of an army must include fail-safes in order to prevent an armed takeover or domestic intervention.
The Nuclear Question – or rather, the Nuclear Option
I mentioned it before, and I promised I would come back to it: France’s nuclear capability.
Indeed, France is the only EU member in possession of a self-contained, weapons capable nuclear industry and weapons ready nuclear arsenal. Germany and Italy are part of NATO’s nuclear-sharing agreements to be able to deliver US-made nuclear weapons, but the activation codes of those weapons always remain in the hands of the Americans. Not so with France, a country that has sea-based deterrent capabilities and a unique “nuclear warning shot” air-launched cruise missile. Furthermore, France has a nuclear industry configured to not only sustain their ongoing nuclear energy technology, but to produce weapons grade fissile material and the means to deliver said material.
The history of why France has nuclear weapons is rather interesting, but can be largely summed up with General De Gaulle finding the Americans rude and asking them to please leave because he would like to have his own nuclear deterrence and if the US won’t give him some, then he shall make his own, with baccarat and courtesans.
As a result, France’s nuclear doctrine is actually quite different, in more than one regard to that of NATO’s in general and the US’ and UK’s in particular. NATO (and nominally Russian) doctrine excludes first strike and holds that strategic nuclear weapons can only be employed as a response, while French doctrine has no such limitation. Strategic nuclear weapons can be fired as a first strike at the President’s discretion (which may be used to force a NATO first strike), and even before it comes to that, the French Air Force possesses a 100-300kt “warning shot” (the ASMP-A air-launched cruise missile), which is to be used as a signalling mechanism towards France’s enemy to say: “If you don’t stop, I may launch my nukes at you. If you want to talk, now is the time”.
This nuclear capability is a rather important question when regarding the possible establishment of an EU army. On the one hand, it would give the EU army a nuclear strike capability worthy of the name from day 1. On the other hand, given France’s pride about their own capabilities and the sensitivity of the subject of nuclear weapons, it may come to pass that nuclear weapons may end up being one of those things that will take some time to pass from state control to union control, if at all.
It may be possible for France to pass nuclear capabilities to joint control. However, there would very likely be some mistrust from the French part, the same way one doesn’t trust a work colleague with their most prized antique fountain pen. However, in France’s case, there is not only personal attachment, there is also the matter of these being weapons of mass destruction that should not be taken lightly.
Cooperation and integration, or starting over? – How to establish an EU army
Standing up an army can be achieved in different ways. It may be accomplished by merging and integrating existing elements or one can start from scratch. In the EU’s case, I propose we do both.
Indeed, cross-border military integration is nothing new in Europe. France and Germany already have the Franco-German Brigade based in Müllheim and the Dutch and Germans similarly have their German/Dutch Corps based in Münster. What’s more, EU members already, nominally, intend to integrate their militaries closer, they simply have to make it a reality and go further.
1. Integration? — the language predicament
Integration and cooperation can only go so far, however, as sooner or later, a language barrier is going to occur, especially in good old Europe where there are 24 official languages. Language and standardised communications are a key pillar of any effective military, which is why NATO has been so insistent on standardising everything that has to do with communication, all the way from spelling to symbology. This helps mitigate some of the language barriers between different countries’ units, however units generally tend to speak the same language between themselves still.
If one looks at the Dutch-German integration — or a German student negotiating with a Dutch bus driver —, one might get the impression that language barrier isn’t really an issue, as there is sufficient inter-intelligibility for the two folks to work seamlessly together. Look at the Franco-German Brigade however and that impression might change. The subordinate units of the Brigade are generally still divided along national lines. The Brigade HQ is full of mixed and bilingual officers and enlisted, but these are officers who must already speak an additional language to have graduated university, and mostly professional NCO’s and enlisted who are required to be at least proficient in each other’s language as well as English.
Thus language barrier, in my opinion, puts a hard limit on integration and cooperation in a general sense, especially between speakers of different language groups (Poles to Germans for example). Platoon leaders (usually the most junior officer position) may already be able to communicate between themselves effectively, but their men may be only able to sign at each other.
However, national armies, despite the limits imposed on cooperation due to language, are – and should be – a cornerstone of European defence. Such an approach of maintaining national and lingual diversity may also alleviate some of the concerns mentioned earlier about certain member states not being entirely comfortable with centralising military power in the EU.
Yet, there are possible cases where integration might do more than sufficiently. I mentioned in the opening that 27 national armed forces means 27 parallel research and development (R&D) departments. What’s to say that a central coordination office cannot be established to coordinate R&D in service of the entire Union?
2. Starting over
This brings us to the alternative: standing up an army from scratch. Such a force would be recruited from all member states with no regard for social background, as well as trained to the same standard and equipped centrally. Of course, there is an immediate contradiction you may notice I’m running headlong into: the language barrier. Having written a section on the limiting effect of linguistic diversity, why am I proposing that an EU army should be composed of peoples who speak as many as 52 languages.
Interestingly, there is a relatively simple solution here that can be already found within Europe, namely the model of the French Foreign Legion (FFL). The FFL recruits from, quite literally, all over the world, peoples who mostly don’t speak any French when they enter the recruiting station. Still, at the end of the four month basic training, a freshly qualified Legionnaire speaks good enough French to be able to follow and acknowledge orders and be able to report.
Admittedly, the FFL is highly selective and its dropout rate high, and not everyone would be able to go through the same language training regimen. However, there are various ways to bring recruits up to a basic level, the Legion is just one example, although I would argue that it is a base that we should follow, even if not just “Foreign Legion language education in English”.
Of course, standing up a new army requires serious amount of capital investment, as forces need to be equipped, fed, support and logistics systems need to be established, but these are – for the most part – known quantities, even if expensive. I could easily see some countries divesting themselves partially or completely of their armed forces, potentially transferring some or all of their equipment into a central EU army.
This could present a problem inasmuch as that within the 27 national armies of the EU there are around 7 main types of battle tanks — not to mention subtypes and variants — using 4 different calibres of main gun; around a dozen different types of infantry rifles, thankfully only in three different calibres… And the list goes on. A European Army, if it is built up over the years will have to standardise on a few types of equipment, preferably not hand-me-downs. Second-hand equipment may be good enough to start up and train on, but that doesn’t make a serious fighting force. This is neither the time nor the place to speculate on what the equipment of a future army would be, but it is going to be one point where European military industry’s dire straits may find themselves resolved. The capacity and potential are there, all that is needed is the political will and funding.
Historical and foreign examples – their lessons and their pitfalls
Let us quickly look at some examples of organisations for possible ideas and things to avoid.
1. The US system – Services and National Guards
The US has four primary fighting branches: The Army, the Air Force, the Navy and the Marines (who are technically a part of the Department of the Navy). All four of these services have their reserve services — US Army Reserve, US Air Force Reserve, US Navy Reserve and US Marine Corps Reserve — which are made up of former active duty service members who exercise periodically and can be mobilised in accordance with the needs of their respective services.
Each of the 50 states of the US have an Army and Air National Guards, best described as states’ armed forces, which fall under the states’ governors, but can be mobilised or drawn into federal service by presidential order.
Such a system is how most people I meet envisage an EU army. However, what it does not take into consideration is the fact that the US is mostly homogenous when it comes to language and culture, so a recruit from Minnesota will not have an issue understanding a recruit from Alabama or Oregon, for instance. Replace the states with Portugal, Estonia, and Bulgaria and each recruit is going to have a hard time making themselves understood due to language. Here a possible equivalence between the EU and US systems falls down.
On the positive side, the federal military is well funded, and generally well looked after, with overwhelmingly effective and advanced systems as well as a good R&D department (DARPA) that drives technology in certain aspects. These are qualities that we should strive for, even if not at the same (infamous) scale as the Americans. After all, we will never be Americans, they will never be us, and that’s fine.
2. The Austro-Hungarian Empire’s example
I can hear a collective gasp from Czechs, Slovaks, Croats, Romanians and Serbs, but I promise this is relevant, and I’m not raising the example just because I’m part Hungarian.
After the 1867 Compromise between the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary, 4 forces were defined: firstly, The Austrian Imperial-Royal Landwehr (Kaiserlich-Königliche Landwehr), recruiting from the imperial lands of Austria, Bohemia, Ruthenia, Dalmatia and part of Croatia and responsible for defence in Austria; secondly, the Hungarian Royal Landwehr (Magyar Királyi Honvédség) that recruited from the “Crown lands of St Stephen”, that being modern day Hungary, Slovakia, northern Serbia, Transilvania, and most of Croatia and being responsible for defence in Hungary; thirdly, the Common Army (Gemeinsame Armee/Közös Hadsereg – often just called K.u.K. Armee/hadsereg) recruiting from all over the empire and being based all over the empire; and fourthly, the Navy (K.u.K. Kriegsmarine) also recruiting from all over the empire.
These four armed forces were managed as follows: The Austrian and Hungarian Landwehrs were funded and cared for by their respective “national” governments, while the common army and the navy were centrally funded.
This is somewhat similar to what I propose, however there is a key difference that was not addressed adequately: of course, the language barrier. All four branches had to contend with a very wide variety of ethnicities, ranging from germanic peoples, through romance and slavics to finno-ugrics. The various armies had to contend with a total of 11 official languages, 6 of which were slavic. As a “solution”, so-called army slavic (armee slawisch) was developed, that contained a handful of standardised Czech-based command words that officers could use to issue commands, although, to my understanding, this was pretty basic, so complex instructions still had to rely on translators.
Another issue that the Empire’s armed forces had that a future EU Army department has to look out for is low funding. Or rather, factionalism leading to low funding. In the K.u.K.’s time, the two national governments allocated most funds to their respective Landwehrs and nickel-and-dimed the common army to such an extent that going into World War One, the Austro-Hungarian military was the lowest-funded major force of all the armies of the conflict and as a consequence, was in a terrible material condition.
This is a real possibility that party politics may bring about in an EU army’s case, and that should be guarded against, lest we find ourselves with an organisation that amounts to just an extra layer of expensive bureaucracy.
Effects on the life of the average European citizen
Ideally, the effect of an EU army on the life of an average EU citizen should be… Minimal. Paradoxically, the best armies are the ones whose presence is barely felt, as when one feels it, things may have gone horribly wrong already.
On a more practical note, the main effect would be to have the opening-up of possibilities for talented people who cannot put their talents to use in their current circumstances. As Napoleon said, “Every French soldier carries a marshal’s baton in his knapsack.” I always took this saying as an acknowledgment that skilled people can rise to the top given the opportunity.
Let me give you an example: imagine you are Irish and dream of driving tanks. Unless you are a dual national or you immigrate to another country, live there for the required number of years and naturalise, you are out of luck, because the Irish Army doesn’t have tanks. Similarly, if you are from a landlocked country such as Austria, Czechia, Slovakia or Hungary, you cannot even dream of sailing the high seas. But what if you happen to be talented at something that you do not have access to? You could be a natural at armoured combat or submarine warfare, but if you are Irish or landlocked, you will never be able to show your talent.
In a way, a common EU army would have access to a much wider talent pool than any national army has access to. If you think I’m exaggerating, one of the best US Navy admirals, Willis “Ching” Lee, was born in Kentucky. If he had been confined to his native (member) state, and Marc Mitscher had been to his, the US Navy during World War 2 would have been deprived of two of its best admirals. We are, right now, similarly limiting our own potential.
I haven’t planned for this article to go on for as long as it has, but as I was writing, I realised that there is much more to this than first meets the eye. For this reason, I hope I was able to express the immense complications and intricacies that exist regarding the potential of a unified and centralised EU army.
The EU needs federalisation, not only between states, but between the institutions that come with it, including the army, as soon as possible. Admittedly, I have just scarped the surface of what an EU army entails, as for the moment, I disregarded naval and aerial aspects, which come with their very own challenges.
Our collective security and collective interests, in my opinion, would be better served by a common, overarching armed forces than by a collection of national forces, but for various reasons, I don’t believe we are going to see the end of the national forces any time soon, federalism or not. As such, we have to find a balance between the defensive nature of a national force and possibly expeditionary, or power projection nature of our collective interest. After all, as peaceful as we would like to be, it would be patent foolishness to blind ourselves in pacifism or to pretend that we don’t have interests in the world that we wouldn’t need the threat of retaliation to maintain, as hard as it may be to face that.