French President Emmanuel Macron's push for what he previously called "a real European army" got a big boost on Tuesday amid France and Germany signing an updated historic treaty reaffirming their close ties and commitment to support each other during a ceremony in the city of Aachen, a border town connected to Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Empire. But the timing for the renewal of the two countries' 1963 post-war reconciliation accord is what's most interesting, given both the rise of eurosceptic nationalism, the uncertainty of Brexit, and just as massive 'Yellow Vests' protests rage across France for a tenth week.
Macron addressed this trend specifically at the signing ceremony with the words, "At a time when Europe is threatened by nationalism, which is growing from within... Germany and France must assume their responsibility and show the way forward."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron attend a signing of a new agreement on bilateral cooperation and integration, known as Treaty of Aachen. Image via Reuters
Germany's Angela Merkel agreed, adding in her own remarks: “We are doing this because we live in special times and because in these times we need resolute, distinct, clear, forward-looking answers.” The agreement, which is being described as sparse on specifics or detail, focuses on foreign policy and defense ties between Berlin and Paris.
“Populism and nationalism are strengthening in all of our countries,” Merkel EU officials at the ceremony. “Seventy-four years – a single human lifetime – after the end of the second world war, what seems self-evident is being called into question once more.”
Macron said those “who forget the value of Franco-German reconciliation are making themselves accomplices of the crimes of the past. Those who... spread lies are hurting the same people they are pretending to defend, by seeking to repeat history.”
And in remarks that formed another affirmation that the two leaders are seeking to form an "EU army" Merkel said just before signing the treaty: “The fourth article of the treaty says we, Germany and France, are obliged to support and help each other, including through military force, in case of an attack on our sovereignty.”
The text of the updated treaty includes the aim of a “German-French economic area with common rules” and a “common military culture” that Merkel asserted could “contribute to the creation of a European army”.
Later before a press pool, Merkel endorsed the idea of a joint European army further:
We have taken major steps in the field of military cooperation, this is good and largely supported in this house. But I also have to say, seeing the developments of the recent years, that we have to work on a vision to establish a real European army one day.
She clarified that the new military organization wouldn't exist as a counterpart to or in competition with NATO, similar to prior comments she made before European parliament.
Previously in November she had assured, "This is not an army against NATO, it can be a good complement to NATO." This was also in support of Macron's early November statements wherein he said of the proposed EU army, "We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the US” — words that were issued on the heels President Trump's initial announcement that the US would withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).
Despite such such assurances analysts say the natural and long term by-product of a "real European army" — as Macron and Merkel suggesting — would be the slow eroding and demise of US power in the region, which would no doubt weaken the NATO alliance.
The closest thing to a current "EU army" that does exist (if it can be called even that) - the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) - is generally perceived as more of a civil and emergency response joint EU member mechanism that would be ineffectual under the threat of an actual military invasion or major event.
Meanwhile perhaps a prototype EU army is already in action on the streets of Paris, revealing what critics fear it may actually be used for in the future...
The expected push back came swiftly and fiercely as Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s National Rally party, slammed the updated Aachen treaty as “an act that borders on treason”, while others worried this is an attempt to create a “super EU” within the bloc.
Alexander Gauland of Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), for example, warned:
As populists, we insist that one first takes care of one’s own country... We don’t want Macron to renovate his country with German money … The EU is deeply divided. A special Franco-German relationship will alienate us even further.
Italy’s far-right interior minister, Matteo Salvini, warned earlier this month that his country could seek an “Italian-Polish axis” to challenge the whole premise of a “Franco-German motor” that drives European centralization.
Also notable of Tuesday's signing is that the Aachen document prioritizes Germany being eventually accepted as permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, which it mandates as a priority for French-German diplomacy. Such a future scenario on the security council would shift power significantly in favor of a western bloc of allies the US, Britain, and France, which Germany would vote alongside.
French president makes new appeal for force in run-up to First World War Armistice centenary
Jon Stone Europe Correspondent @joncstone
Tuesday 6 November 2018 09:45
Emmanuel Macron has called for the creation of a “true European army” to allow the EU defend itself from threats ranging from Donald Trump to Vladimir Putin.
The French president has pushed for closer EU defence union since coming to power last year but has been so far met with limited success amid foot-dragging by other member states.
“We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America,” Mr Macron told France’s Europe 1 radio in an interview.
European leaders push Angela Merkel for joint EU army
“When I see President Trump announcing that he’s quitting a major disarmament treaty which was formed after the 1980s Euro-missile crisis that hit Europe, who is the main victim? Europe and its security.”
The French president continued: “We will not protect the Europeans unless we decide to have a true European army.
“We need a Europe which defends itself better alone, without just depending on the United States, in a more sovereign manner.”
Mr Macron was speaking in Verdun, northeast France, as part of a week-long tour of battlefields leading up to First World War Armistice centenary commemorations on Sunday.
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The French head of state will receive world leaders including Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin for commemoration ceremonies in Paris on Remembrance Sunday.
The election of Mr Trump to the White House appears to have given more urgency to the cause of boosting the EU’s defence capabilities, with leaders warning they cannot simply rely on the United States.
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said last year that “deference to Nato can no longer be used as a convenient alibi to argue against greater European efforts”.
France is the strongest and most vocal proponent of an EU army but Germany has also tentatively endorsed Mr Macron’s proposals for a joint command structure for military interventions.
A number of proposals have been put on the table for how EU nations could cooperate more closely on defence. The European Commission says closer defence cooperation “is not about creating an EU army”.
Thirty-four joint missions by member states have been launched under the EU flag since 2003 under the Common Security and Defence Policy.
Basically the EDU is another huge plank in the structure coming shortly out of the European Union which marches steadily onwards to its endgame - the complete unification of the continent in every aspect.
There is a rumour that Defence Minister Lord "Freddie" Astor was being very informative but in private and what he said was caught on tape.Now the tape has been suppressed.
There can be no meaningful EDU without the transfer of command of the EU members' armed forces to a central EU control. Our own EU-Remainer fanatics know it but never mention it. Also off the discuss-list is the final unification of the currencies into the euro.At the moment this is optional - we opted out under John Major, remember? But plans are well afoot to make it mandatory.
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On the defence issue a phalanx of our top military and intelligence veterans are shell-shocked but have been told to shut up. Meanwhile the Tory party is content to faff along, needing 30 days to consult 150,000 members (it can be done in a week) before we get a new prime minister.
Th true kernel of the Let-Us-Leave argument is not the loss of our sovereignty that has been accomplished so far but what is coming next. That is why the bureaucrats - Remainers to a man - are so keen to work in secret.
By the by, our Trident (nuclear submarine) technology is shared with and co-owned by the Americans who will never agree to share it with the leaky EU. Any more bright ideas Frau von der Leyen?
Defence Minister Lord Astor
There is a rumour that Defence Minister Lord Astor was being very informative about the matter (Image: Wikipedia )
AS THE Channel between France and our south coast fills with inflatable boats bringing the relentless tide of illegal immigrants to the UK, they are intercepted and landed not back in France but right here.
Then they are taken care of, housed, fed, "processed" (meaning allowed to stay pending why-bother? appeals): there is another striking image. Our harbours are choked with their boats and these seem to be mostly brand new inflatables with equally new outboard engines.
Clearly they are not penniless and one doubts the traffickers are donating them from the nonexistent goodness of their hearts.
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There appears to be a brisk trade over there as the immigrants use their life savings to purchase these boats (nice profits for someone) knowing their use-span will be a few hours before interception and confiscation. So what will happen to these almost-new boats and engines? Just an idea.
Put them up for auction and donate the proceeds to good causes. Two things are becoming pretty clear.
European troops attend the traditional Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Elysees Avenue in Paris, France, July 14, 2019.
French President Emmanuel Macron is to showcase European military cooperation at the Bastille Day parade on Sunday 14 July at a time of growing tensions with the United States.
Key EU leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, are to join Macron to watch the annual parade down the Champs Elysees that marks the July 14, 1789 storming of the Bastille fortress in Paris in the French Revolution.
Outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May had been expected to attend but Britain will instead be represented by senior cabinet minister David Lidington, the Elysee said.
Over 4,000 members of the armed forces thronged the start of the parade on the Champs Elysees by the Arc de Triomphe as they prepared for the ceremonial march to the Place de la Concorde where the dignitaries were to be seated.
View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter
What a day to be French. There’s nothing quite like the spectacle that is #14Juillet. Audible boos for President @EmmanuelMacron from the crowds on the Champs-Elysées, which has been more synonymous with the #GiletsJaunes protests for nearly a year now.
9:17 AM - Jul 14, 2019
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Closer European defence cooperation has been one of Macron's key foreign policy aims and the president shows no sign of wavering despite growing political turbulence in Germany and Britain's looming exit from the European Union.
At the 2017 parade, Macron's guest of honour was the freshly-inaugurated US President Donald Trump as the young French leader sought to take the initiative in forming a bond with his counterpart.
Trump was so taken by the event that he ordered a similar military parade in Washington for the July 4 Independence Day celebrations.
But since then ties between Trump and Macron have soured over the US pullout from the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal, as well as France's new law for a tax on digital giants.
'Europe never so important'
Several European military aircraft and vehicles will be showcased at the Bastille Day parade, including the German NH90.
Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP
Macron, who pushed the idea of the European Intervention Initiative (E2I) to undertake missions outside of existing structures like NATO, says European defence cooperation is crucial.
"Never, since the end of World War II has Europe been so important," Macron said in a statement to mark July 14.
"The construction of a Europe of defence, in connection with the Atlantic alliance whose 70th anniversary we are celebrating, is a priority for France," he added.
He said the aim of the E2I was to "act together and reinforce our capacity to act together," adding: "Our security and our defence pass through Europe."
Forces from all nine countries taking part alongside France in the E2I -- including Britain and Germany -- will be represented at the parade.
In a sign of France's ambition to be a leading modern military power under Macron, the president Saturday announced the creation of a national space force command that will eventually be part of the air force.
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"We will reinforce our knowledge of the situation in space, we will better protect our satellites, including in an active manner," Macron said as he announced the plan, which mirrors a US initiative championed by Trump.
Highlighting France's continued commitment to NATO, the alliance's secretary general Jens Stoltenberg will also be present at the parade.
A German A400M transport plane and a Spanish C130 will take part in fly-bys at the parade, as well as two British Chinook helicopters.
The Chinooks are a major symbol of British-French defence cooperation even as Brexit looms, with Britain deploying three of the aircraft and 100 personnel for France's operation in the African Sahel region.
Also present will be members of the 5,000-strong Franco-German Brigade (BFA), which was created in 1989 as a symbol of post-war unity between France and Germany, and celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.
Merkel, who is battling to keep her grand coalition together at home, will again be under close scrutiny after she suffered three episodes of shaking at official events in recent weeks.
Some 4,300 members of the armed forces, 196 vehicles, 237 horses, 69 planes and 39 helicopters will be mobilised for the event in the heart of the French capital.
defence union - military union - single european army merkel macron
So it was quite a pleasant surprise to hear Lord James of Blackheath break through this wall of silence, raise the alarm in the Lords on 8th September 2019, after he visited a venue hosted by Veterans For Britain.
His questions were:
Can someone please tell us the truth about EU Defence Union? This is by far the biggest issue being faced by the British public and they know nothing about it, officially.
Can we have a proper account of what it entails?
Is it really true that the government has entered into private agreements with the European Community that they will on completion of remain or whatever it is, transfer to the European Union in Brussels the entire control of our fighting forces, including all their equipment” (Yes, it is true)
He was then asked to withdraw his questions, but it was too late; he had spilled the beans on national TV. Years spent deceiving and dodging has really been about – EU Defence Union.
Boris Johnson tends to use Greek mythology in his speeches, perhaps Their secret “Plan” aimed at deceiving the British public had an operational name such as Operation Aniketos after the Greek god of defence strategy.
The Tories were forced to backtrack and redraft the Maybot treaty and Political Declaration. Boris Johnson PM now has a fresh mandate to “Get Brexit Done”.
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