Jurassic Park brought many things to the world: one of the most recognisable theme tunes in history; the sounds we now associate with dinosaurs; and one quote that can be applied to nearly every political situation in the world. “(They) were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” Today I want to apply that quote to the idea of a European Union army.
The European Union are desperately determined to make an army work. Yet why is such an army required? Is it to protect European Union “interests”, as claimed by one of its most vocal proponents, Guy Verhofstadt? If so, what are these interests? And what will those interests be in the future? Could such an army be used to enforce these the wishes of the EU, future or present, upon a member state itself? These are all essential questions which are currently being asked and answered by no-one.
A dictator only needs two tools to seize control: a means to end democracy and a military to enforce their will. The EU freely acknowledges that it has the power to end democracy. It acknowledges this in the Treaty on European Union, signed in 2007. Within the treaty lies one immensely dangerous article: Article 7.
Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union grants the European Council the ability to suspend any rights of membership, including voting rights and representation – de facto suspending a nation’s democratic influence. Members of a state with no rights essentially become citizens with no representation; citizens with no democracy. As a believer in liberalism, the idea that democracy can be suspended is an affront to the rights of an individual, rights that are supposed to be unassailable and natural. The suspension of democracy can only ever lead to harm.
The world may be becoming an increasingly dangerous place, with the rise of modern terrorism, cyber-warfare and the risk of an increasingly aggressive Russia. Yet a European Army will do nothing to protect the continent from these threats because of one key flaw. The European Union requires all member states to mutually agree to act. Not once have all EU member states taken the same stance on a conflict that they have become involved in and not once have all EU member states committed troops to the same side in a war. Meanwhile, all EU member states bar Sweden, Austria, Cyprus, Finland and Malta are members of NATO, and – even after the UK leaves the European Union – the EU will maintain a member state with nuclear capabilities through France. Defensively, European member states are as strong as ever against threats that justify the presence of a military. The need to go further is highly questionable.
A European Army will at best be an instrument for faux prestige so that the EU can say to the world “Look at our might”. At worst, it could become a mechanism for dictatorship. The EU is entering very dangerous territory.
Alastair Thompson is an Economics and Politics student at the University of Bath. Follow him on twitter: @AlastairJT