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Does French party LREM want to replace the French army with a European one?

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CheckNews, France

17 May 2019, Updated: 21 May 2019

Does French party LREM want to replace the French army with a European one?L'Eurocorps, qui compte cinq pays membres en Europe (CC BY-SA 3.0 Claude Truong-Ngoc / Wikimedia Commons)

The program of the Renaissance list in France’s EU elections promises a “new Europe of defense”, but wants each state to “keep its army” and “intervention capacity”.

You refer to a campaign event of Marine Le Pen on 11 May in Cers (in the French department of Hérault). At around 12m 40s the leader of Rassemblement National declares:

“[Emmanuel Macron] proposes, without really admitting it, to usher us towards the end of the national army in favor of a European army. Do you seriously want it to be an unknown commissioner who decides if our children must be enrolled in a war, against Serbia, Russia, and even against the direct interests of France? And what about our nuclear dissuasion capacity? Are we going to share it? Do you want to entrust the nuclear button to stumbling Mr Juncker? Because after 10 o’clock in the morning, that is risky…”

For the EU elections of 26 May, the Renaissance list of French party LREM does indeed propose to “move towards a European army”, and to “advance towards a common intervention capacity” for EU member states. However, it takes care to clarify that “each country must conserve its army and its capacity to launch military operations”, as the presidential party’s program indicates.

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The LREM list thus proposes a “new Europe of defense”, via a “defense and security treaty” which includes raised defense spending and the creation of a European defense council.

This represents an additional step following the “European Intervention Initiative” (EII) launched by 9 EU countries in June 2018, which aimed “to promote the emergence of a common European strategic culture and to create the preconditions for future coordinated operations, jointly prepared, across the full spectrum of crises”, according to the French minister of armed forces.

Just before the first meeting of this new body, on 7 November 2018, Emmanuel Macron had already talked of a European army: “We will not protect Europeans if we do not decide to have a real European army”, he said on French radio station Europe 1.

Afterwards, figures close to him played down the statement: “The president used this strong image of a ‘European army’ as a reminder, on the eve of 11 November, of the need for Europeans to strengthen their capacity to act independently”, said a “French source” cited by AFP. Words which “suggest that Mr Macron was not talking about supranational troops but rather coordinated national actions”, added the news agency.

Translation by Harry Bowden, VoxEurop

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