Rapid Reaction Capability of the European Union: Taking that Last Big Step

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Connections: The Quarterly Journal, Volume 13, Issue 4, p.1-24 (2014)
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The formation of an Army of Europe has been discussed almost since the end of World War II, but has yet to be realized. After reading through the numerous and varied proposals over the past sixty years, the observer invariably arrives at the conclusion that all concerned parties agree: the European Union (EU) should have its own military. The Union today, taken as a whole, is an economic and cultural superpower. Its leading nations seem to be willing to pursue the status of a humanitarian superpower and leader in conflict prevention, as well as to defend the Europe’s perceived collective interests in the world.

Instability is rampant around the fringes of the EU; and situations abound that could require a quick and decisive application of military force. The outcomes of the Arab Spring are not yet clear, but its effects will reverberate for years to come. Al-Qaida affiliates are growing in strength in Central Africa. Ethnic enclaves and unresolved territorial disputes still remain across Eastern Europe and Central Asia, while the effects of the Syrian civil war have already spread into neighboring countries. With the impending conclusion of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia, Europe is determined to put the unpleasant specter of the Balkan wars firmly in the past. Most recently, Europe has been made keenly aware of the limits of soft power by Russia’s seizure of Crimea and its continuing threat to eastern Ukraine.

The larger nations of the EU have shown that they are willing to lead military operations where they believe the Union’s interests are threatened. ...

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