So when in 1955 the shortly-to-be-free Austria was taking over allied functions some kindly adviser must have said "You'll need an army, you know; not a big one, but enough to defend your neutrality" the country was able to say "Thank you. Here's one we made earlier .." Austrians in the know are secretly proud of this guile, at having fooled the big boys, but I'm not so sure that we didn't actually know all along what was going on and chose to let it roll.
Although it seems like only yesterday that the EU issued an options paper for a new army, in fact it was the end of May when we reported it. It seems they have now decided on a full-blown army under EU rather than national control; or rather, this was secretly agreed a long time ago and is only now being unveiled. My earlier comments now prove prescient. Hidden in a piece in Der Spiegel is this;
The most detailed element of future Franco-German relations is military cooperation. German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen and her French counterpart have made significant progress - despite the recent revolving door at the French Defense Ministry. The convergence is taking place as part of so-called "Permanent Structured Cooperation" or PESCO, which refers to the process whereby those EU countries who wish to work more closely together can do so.I can only imagine that the UK was sick on the day they decided all of this.
The hope is to test out the process for the first time on military issues, an area where the 28 EU member states waste millions each year due to a lack of coordination, particularly when it comes to purchasing new weapons systems. Brexit combined with the election of Donald Trump in the U.S. have acted as a catalyst when it comes to European defense cooperation.
The last significant hurdle is to be removed in Paris on Thursday. France had long been insisting that a key priority of military cooperation should be the battlefield effectiveness of the resulting force whereas the Germans are eager to include as many countries as possible. Now, both wishes are to be fulfilled: The cooperation, European Council President Donald Tusk said in June, is to be "ambitious and inclusive."
Those interested in joining PESCO must commit themselves to five clearly outlined admission criteria, such as improved coordination of military procurement and constant defense spending increases. The plan also calls for more countries to participate in financing the EU Battlegroups. Formed a decade ago, there has been little appetite for actually deploying them in part because those countries supplying troops to the Battlegroups have thus far had to bear the costs on their own.