Macron criticised over push for EU army by Italian MEP
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Eurocrats are set to spend millions to arm their controversial paramilitary border force. Officials are looking to equip Frontex’s “Standing Corps” with 2,500 semi-automatic pistols and more than three million rounds of ammunition to patrol the bloc’s external frontiers. The new troops could even be deployed in the English Channel to help tackle people smuggling between the UK and France.
However, critics have branded the move a “menacing development” in the shift towards a full-blown EU superstate.
A spokesman for the agency said: “The weapons are for the new Frontex officers who are part of the standing corps. They will be used for self-defence and defence of others.
“Frontex is a law enforcement agency and its officers in operations require weapons. Like any other border guard or police force.”
Frontex was handed an enhanced role in policing the bloc’s borders after the 2015 migration crisis.
If Frontex will really shift into an EU army, not all the leaders might be on board, though.
According to a throwback report by the Daily Express, in 2018, Mr Rutte rejected the idea of an EU Army backed by French leader Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Asserting that the continent’s safety could only be guaranteed through NATO, Mr Rutte said France and Germany were “jumping the gun” with calls for a European army.
During his weekly post-cabinet press conference, he said: “The idea of a European army is going way too far for the Netherlands.
“France and Germany are really jumping the gun.
“As far as the Netherlands is concerned, NATO remains the cornerstone of our defence policy.”
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Mr Rutte’s comments came after Mr Macron called for action during an interview with Paris radio station Europe 1.
The French President said: “We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America.
“We will not protect the Europeans unless we decide to have a true European army.
“When I see President Trump announcing that he’s quitting a major disarmament treaty which was formed after the E Euro-missile crisis that hit Europe, who is the main victim? Europe and its security.”
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Mrs Merkel echoed Mr Macron’s calls as she claimed she supported a “real, true” European army.
She said: “Jean-Claude Juncker some years ago said a common European Army would show the world there will never again be a war in Europe.
“I’m not saying anything about NATO of course not. We can be a good supplement to NATO.
“It would be a lot easier to cooperate if we have more than 160 weapons systems and the US only has 50 or 60. We realise that all the different instances have training and education. If we could pull this together we can work together with NATO.
“So we need a common armament system. It’s a difficult task for Germany as we will have to develop a common European armed exports policy.”
Other European politicians who have expressed support include former French Prime Minister Alain Juppé, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, former EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, former Czech Prime Ministers Miloš Zeman and Bohuslav Sobotka, and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
A European army is a policy of the European People’s Party.
A 2019 survey found that 37 percent of Dutch citizens “approved the idea of a European army” while 30 percent are opposed.
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