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Juncker calls for an EU army

Jean-Claude Juncker has insisted on closer military and security cooperation between EU member states. The EU Commission president insists the need for an European army is irrespective of Trump's election victory.

The European Union needs to overhaul its defense strategy and work towards creating a European army, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told reporters in Berlin on Wednesday night.

"We have a lot to thank the Americans for… but they won't look after Europe's security for ever," Juncker said. "We have to do this ourselves, which is why we need a new approach to building a European security union with the end goal of establishing a European army."

Juncker emphasized that his call for a European army was irrespective of Donald Trump's US election victory.

EU defense ministers are due to hold talks on the matter at an upcoming summit in mid-December. Germany's defense minister, Ursula von der Leyen, has also called for closer military cooperation between EU forces as an extension of NATO.

Frankreich Straßburg EU Parlament Jean-Claude Juncker (picture-alliance/dpa/P. Seeger)

"America won't look after Europe's security forever," Juncker said.

The United Kingdom has so far blocked any initiative promoting a European defense and security union. However, with the UK's impending exit from the bloc, the remaining 27 EU member states are believed to be looking towards fostering a stronger common security policy.

The EU Commission president said that a European army did not mean he advocated the idea of a "United States of Europe." He said he recognized that was a development European citizens would rather not see, as he sought to dispel any suggestions that the EU was seeking to become a country.

In light Trump's presidential election victory, Juncker - without directly mentioning the president-elect in his speech - also emphasized that the EU's transatlantic relations with the US remain important and that the need for a common EU security policy had not been spurred by the outcome of the election. "There are so many close links between the US and Europe that we shouldn't reset relations out of anger," he said. "We will remain partners because the world needs a close US-EU alliance. It hinges on common values." 

dm/kms (Reuters, dpa)

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