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Following the Taliban victory last month, a number of senior European politicians have suggested the EU needs its own army, including some who were previously sceptical. France is currently furious about AUKUK, a new military alliance between America, Britain and Australia.
Its formation led Australia to cancel a lucrative submarine contract with a French company.
In response, Paris withdrew its ambassadors from the US and Australia, with the country’s foreign minister claiming she’d been “stabbed in the back”.
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the German defence minister, said the Afghan debacle demonstrates the need for a European “rapid reaction force”.
Speaking to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung she said: “The question is, what conclusions do I draw from this.
The German defence minister called for a European “rapid reaction force”
Angela Merkel with Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer
“Now, during the election campaign and hopefully afterward, I am fighting so that such a situation no longer occurs and that we are more capable of acting next time.
“That does not mean that we should part with the Americans.
“But there can be situations in which we have different interests, also within NATO.
“Then we have to become more capable of acting on our own.”
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There are growing calls in Brussels for an EU army
The Taliban surged across Afghanistan last month, with Kabul falling on August 15.
Western powers rushed to get their nationals, and Afghan allies, evacuated from Kabul international airport.
Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer had previously expressed scepticism about the EU distancing itself from the US, sparking a rare slap down from Emanual Macron.
In November, writing for Politico Europe, she said: “Illusions of European strategic autonomy must come to an end.
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Biden, Johnson and Morrison announced the new AUKUS alliance
The Taliban stormed across Afghanistan in August
“Europeans will not be able to replace America’s crucial role as a security provider.
“The US’s worth as a global power depends to a significant extent on whether its role as a protector of Europe remains credible.”
Guy Verhofstadt, formerly the European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator, also reacted to the fall of Afghanistan by demanding an EU army.
He tweeted: “Afghanistan once more shows armies are crucial to the security of our citizens & allies abroad.
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“EU countries need to do that together: cooperate & integrate forces so our people, interests & values are protected.
“Think beyond taboos or caricatures: an EU army is common sense!”
On Wednesday the new AUKUS alliance was announced by Joe Biden, Boris Johnson and Scott Morrison.
In a joint statement the three leaders said: “Through AUKUS, our governments will strengthen the ability of each to support our security and defence interests, building on our longstanding and ongoing bilateral ties.
Kabul fell to the Taliban on August 15
“We will promote deeper information and technology sharing. We will foster deeper integration of security and defence-related science, technology, industrial bases, and supply chains.
“And in particular, we will significantly deepen cooperation on a range of security and defence capabilities.”
As part of the agreement the US and UK agreed to help Australia build nuclear powered submarines, resulting in the cancellation of an earlier French contract.
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.