• Sobotka joins other EU officials supporting joint military
  • Bloc-wide force may face threats including terrorism, Russia

The European Union will need a common army to bolster its security over the long term after the U.K. follows through on its decision to exit the bloc, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said. 

The 28-nation trading pact will need to muster a joint military to face intensifying threats including terrorism, a newly aggressive Russia and the unprecedented influx of refugees from the Middle East and beyond, Sobotka told a gathering of Czech diplomats in Prague Monday. A common EU army shouldn’t compete with NATO but should rather make the EU a “more actionable and reliable partner,” he said.

Sobotka joins a number of European officials who, following terrorist attacks in Paris and the U.K.’s Brexit vote, have called for greater military integration. The U.K. has in the past preferred to coordinate all military action through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but its departure from the EU may pave the way for Germany and France, who support closer cooperation, to change the approach to security in the bloc. Sobotka said leaders may discuss a joint army at a September meeting of EU leaders.

“I’m convinced that we can’t do without a common European army in the long term,” he said. “I hope that the autumn European summit will bring concrete proposals and pledges.”

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in March 2015 he supported the creation of a European army to show Russia the EU’s members are determined to defend their values. In May, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, was reported to have prepared a defense document that included creating common defense structures via provisions laid out in the bloc’s 2009 Lisbon Treaty, the Times reported. The Commission said in June that there were no plans to propose an EU army.

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