Merkel backs Macron's call for a 'real' European army

German chancellor Angela Merkel with her French counterpart Emmanuel Macron (Getty)
German chancellor Angela Merkel with her French counterpart Emmanuel Macron (Getty)

German chancellor Angela Merkel has become the second EU leader in a week to call for a “real” European army, falling into rank with French president Emmanuel Macron.

In a speech to the European Parliament on Tuesday, Merkel said that countries combining their forces would be the best way to secure peace on the continent.

“We have already achieved cooperation the military sphere, that is good and we’re going to continue to support this,” she told MEPs to both loud booing and cheering.

“But what we should do, and this is really important if we look at the developments of the past year, we have to work on the vision of one day creating a real, true European army.”

Merkel said such a force would compliment rather than challenge Nato.

That was meant to distinguish her vision from that of her French counterpart who said last week a European army was needed in part to protect the continent from the United States – a Nato member.

We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America,” said Macron.

“When I see President Trump announcing that he’s quitting a major disarmament treaty which was formed after the 1980s euro-missile crisis that hit Europe, who is the main victim? Europe and its security.”

He added: “We will not protect the Europeans unless we decide to have a true European army.”

Those comments sparked a row with US president Donald Trump which overshadowed commemorations for the 100th anniversary of the Armistice.

The European commission has said it is working towards military cooperation which might resemble an “EU army” in a number of years.

The renewed push for military cooperation has sparked outrage from Eurosceptics.

Responding to Merkel’s speech in Strasbourg, UKIP MEP Nigel Farage said: “One hundred years on from the Armistice, we should be genuinely worried.

“The idea that this new militarised union is somehow a recipe for peace: I suggest you sit back and think a little bit more carefully.

“Maybe you should all re-read history. The European project was set up to stop German domination. |What you’ve seen today is a naked take over bid. So I think Brexit becomes a necessity after this.”