France’s Emmanuel Macron set to push UK into joining ‘Army of Europe’ after Brexit
The French centrist is set to call on the UK to join European powers in a bid to foster ever-closer integration of the continent’s militaries.
`French president Emmanuel Macron announced his plans for the European Intervention Initiative (EII) last September as part of his proposals for sweeping reforms to the European Union.
Now the French centrist is set to call on the UK to join European powers in a bid to foster ever-closer integration of the continent’s militaries.
The French figurehead is believed to see British involvement as vital for the project.
The UK currently spends more on defence than any other European nation, paying out £36billion last year compared to France’s £32billion.
Speaking to the Financial Times, defence analyst Francis Tusa said: “Macron realises that any European initiative for the foreseeable future will not work without UK presence.
“He is a pragmatist. His military are telling him: if you want this to work, then you need the Brits involved.”
The Europhile President is expected to approach the subject with Theresa May on Thursday when he arrives at Sandhurst Military Academy for Brexit talks.
However the plans are likely to concern UK military officials who have long been concerned over pushes to create a European army.
Mr Macron’s plan differs from PESCO – the EU’s new defence initiative which has been branded as a lunge by the bloc towards creating an EU army.
PESCO focuses on military capability across the bloc – however President Macron’s vision allows for closer cooperation and quick deployment of forces from around the continent.
Mr Macron described the initiative last year as a “common intervention force”, allowing European countries “to better integrate our armed forces at every stage”.
However his plans are light on the details, with no clear sign of who could join the defence programme and how large the military force will become.
An MoD spokesperson said: “The UK is fully committed to the security of Europe and we continue to preserve a close relationship with our European allies.”
Earlier this month Mr Macron called for greater integration between European nations as he attempts to position himself as a reformer on the continent.
The French President claimed “Europe’s inability to protect people” is responsible for the rise of anti-establishment parties across the union.
And he insisted the only solution was “a more united Europe”, not more national sovereignty.
Touching on the UK’s historic decision to split from Brussels, Mr Macron bundled Brexit in with other European populist movements, which he said: “feed on the fact that no one can explain things.”
Mr Macron said: “Look at the situation in Europe. Why does populism win?
“That’s what you must ask yourself, not the fact of having a European ambition.
“The lack of this ambition is precisely what has let populism grow.
“That's why we want a more united Europe.
“When working on the commercial and social areas, on borders we have a Europe that knows how to respond to the needs of Europeans, populism decreases.”
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