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European leaders push Angela Merkel for joint EU army

Leaders of Poland, Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia meet ahead of EU summit to discuss Brexit

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Friday 26 August 2016 16:34 BST
The leaders of Slovakia, Germany, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic met in Warsaw on 26 August
The leaders of Slovakia, Germany, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic met in Warsaw on 26 August (EPA)

Europe should begin planning to enhance the military role of the European Union with the creation of a common army, according to Hungary’s right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Mr Orban, a staunch critic of the bloc’s migration policies, said that security on the continent should be a priority for Europe as he called on Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, to begin talks on the controversial issue.

"We should list the issue of security as a priority, and we should start setting up a common European army," Mr Orban said.

The fresh call for an EU common army came as Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, met with the Prime Minister’s of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia ahead of an EU summit planned next month to discuss Britain’s exit from the union. Ms Merkel said during the gathering of five countries that the vote for Brexit exposed the need for better communication with the bloc.

It is "important to listen to each other in different formats," Merkel said.

She added: ”Because Britain's exit is not just any event — it is a deep break in the European Union's history of integration, and so it is important to find a careful answer."

Bohuslav Sobotka, the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, according to the, added that “we should also begin a discussion about creating a common European army”.

At present EU member countries work together on a range of military matters but the bloc does not have its own military capabilities. An EU army would also need the unanimous approval from all member states, making the prospect unlikely. The former British ambassador to Washington, Christopher Meyer, has previously claimed that “pigs will fly before the EU creates an army”.

During the referendum campaign the former Prime Minister David Cameron made it clear he did not support the creation of a so-called EU army. Defence minister Earl Howe said shortly before the historic vote to leave the EU: “The Prime Minister has been clear that the UK will never be part of a European Army. We have consistently said that we will oppose any measures which would undermine member states' competence for their own military forces, or lead to competition and duplication with NATO, which is the cornerstone of our defence.”

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