Countries are rebelling over the European Union's defence plans, saying it will lead to 'EU army'

Eastern European countries are unhappy with European Union plans for a joint defensive force, according to a report in the Times.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday set out plans for a pan-European defensive force with a central command, meant to combat terrorism. The plan was leaked ahead of time in the press.

Germany and France, Europe’s two economic and political powerhouses, are understood to support the plans but the Times reports that Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia are set to oppose the plans during the meeting of the 27 member states (while Britain is not part of these talks) in Bratislava on Friday. Poland is also reportedly silently supporting the opposition.

The Times quotes Edgars Rinkevics, the Latvian foreign minister, as saying:

“We take a very sceptical view on the idea or creation of an EU army. I really do not see any value for the European army.

“We do not see the mechanism on how you make decisions on the deployment of an EU army. The European parliament? We are not at a point where national parliaments would be willing to authorise this.”

Eastern European countries see the new EU defence plans as a challenge to NATO, according to the report. NATO recently agreed to station 4,000 troops in Eastern European countries and this is seen as essential to their security. Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage also attacked the EU’s defence plans in European Parliament on Wednesday.

Supporters of the plan deny that it will lead to an “EU army.”

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German foreign minister, told the Times: “The way to a European army is far away. But the way ahead is something that is important. Our populations are expecting closer cooperation in the field of security, including defence.”

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