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  • German Chancellor Merkel addresses the European Parliament during a debate on the future of Europe.

    German Chancellor Merkel addresses the European Parliament during a debate on the future of Europe. | Photo: Reuters

Published 13 November 2018

President Donald Trump has accused French President Macron of seeking to build an army in order to defend Europe against the U.S. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Tuesday for an integrated European Union military, echoing language used by French President Emmanuel Macron last week.

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Macron Calls For EU Army To Defend Itself Against Russia, US

"We should work on a vision of one day establishing a real European army," Merkel told the European Parliament clarifying that such an army would not undermine the United States-led military alliance NATO but would be complementary to it, remarks that were met with loud applause and boos from nationalist members.

"The times when we could rely on others are over. This means we Europeans have to take our fate fully into our own hands," Merkel said.

Macron's call, which reflected a broad trend of EU thinking but is not universally accepted, was meant to show European willingness to meet U.S. demands that Europe do more for its own security and rely less on the U.S.

However, U.S. President Donald Trump did not take Macron's proposal kindly. On Nov. 9, Trump accused Macron via Twitter of seeking to develop the EU's own military to defend itself from the United States, which EU and French officials said was a misunderstanding.

On Tuesday Trump took aim at Macron again, blasting France over its near defeat to Germany in two world wars, its wine industry, and Macron's approval ratings.

In his remarks on Nov. 6, Macron had been referring to computer hackers who could attack Europe from anywhere, including from inside the United States, officials said.

First proposed in the 1950s and taken up four years ago by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker as a response to fraying EU unity, an EU armed forces is seen as strengthening the global power of the bloc.

With Britain's pending departure from the EU, there may be more momentum for remaining member states to find common ground on defense, although there remain divisions.

Merkel made appeals for tolerance and solidarity, saying "nationalism and egotism should no longer have a place in Europe" to a sustained applause.

As a deadline looms for Italy's eurosceptic government to re-submit budget plans to the European Union, Merkel said the eurozone would only work if all member states meet their treaty responsibilities "for sustainable finances."

In the past, Germany has upheld its idea of "sustainable finances" despite human cost, as it did in Greece in 2015. According to analysts, this has contributed to the rising unpopularity of the European Union among the bloc's citizens.  

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