The European Union is a single market – a customs union of nations who wish to trade with each other. But it’s a single market, or trading bloc, unlike any other.
Most people are familiar with organisations like the European Parliament, the European Commission, the European Court of Justice, and the European Central Bank and the Eurozone. But there are a number of other EU arms that you may not find so familiar.
Eurocorps (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurocorps )
For instance, there is Eurocorps an intergovernmental, standing army corps with HQ in Strasbourg and a core strength of 5,000. This can be augmented with a further 60,000 troops from the German army when required. It has been operational since 1995. Basically a Franco-German force, there are also soldiers from Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain. Additionally Greece, Poland, Italy and non EU Member State Turkey contribute personnel to the staff. Austria and Finland second personnel. They wear berets with their own insignia (see left).
EuroGendFor (www.eurogendfor.eu )
Then there is the 3,000 strong European Gendarmerie Force, (EuroGendFor or EGF) Created by agreement in 2006 between five EU member states: France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain. Romania joined in 2009, Poland in 2011. Its purpose is described as the creation of a European “intervention force” with militarised police functions, specialising in “crisis management”, modelled on the French Gendarmerie. The EGF is based in Vicenza, Italy. This force, too, has its own uniform and insignia (see left). It also has its own scary motto: “The law brings peace”.
European Air Group (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Air_Group )
Next – and I swear I’m not making this up – is the EU Air Force. Except, of course, the EU Commission knows it would be political suicide to call it by that name, so it’s called the European Air Group. (And, yes, the European Air Group also has its own military insignia -see left).The group started in 1995 as a Franco-British co-operation and is now “an association of the air forces of seven member nations (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and United Kingdom) working together to stimulate change and collectively to enhance the tactical capabilities of the Group’s air forces through better cooperation.”
What does this EU double talk mean? Well, it’s not much use having a standing army and a rapid-response armed police force unless you have the capability to move them quickly by air to where they are going to fight.
Now, call me an old-fashioned skeptic, but why exactly does a single-market customs union need a standing army, a rapid-response special forces Gendarmerie, and an Air Force capability? Who are they going to attack? Why are they going to attack them? Where are they going to attack them? And perhaps most important of all, when are they going to attack them?
I think we should be told – preferably before 23rd June.