Ms von der Leyen, who was German defence minister at the time, said in 2015 that a form of EU Army should be a long-term goal for the bloc. She added she was convinced about the goal of a combined military force, just as she was convinced that “perhaps not my children, but then my grandchildren will experience a United States of Europe”. The now-EU boss also said that Germany’s role was to “lead from the centre”.
Ms von der Leyen’s words will confirm many fears Brexiteers have about the EU – that the ultimate goal of the bloc is further and further integration into one federalised country.
Her words echoed her predecessor, former Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker.
Mr Juncker openly called for an EU Army to improve the bloc’s standing on the world stage by having united force to defend its values and borders, and to send a message to Vladimir Putin.
He said: “An Army like this would help us to better coordinate our foreign and defence policies, and to collectively take on Europe’s responsibilities in the world.
Ursula von der Leyen said in 2015 that she envisages an EU Army and United States of Europe
Former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker
“Europe’s image has suffered dramatically and also in terms of foreign policy, we don’t seem to be taken entirely seriously.”
He even implied an EU Army might have changed how Russia dealt with Ukraine.
Mr Juncker insisted such a force would not be used immediately, but to simply muscle-flex in Moscow’s direction.
He said: “A common Army among the Europeans would convey to Russia that we are serious about defending the values of the European Union.”
Guy Verhofstadt has also advocated for an EU Army
He added it would not be a challenge to NATO’s existing role, but work in parallel to it.
These beliefs are not only found in the Commission, however. Notable MEPs and European Council members have also expressed a desire for an EU Army.
Guy Verhofstadt, for example, said just last year that he thought the time was “very near” for the creation of a European Army.
The European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator claimed US President Donald Trump is “not a reliable ally” and therefore it was “high time for a European Army to take matters into our own hands.”
Brexit fishing victory: Huge sign Boris Johnson will defend fishermen [ANALYSIS]
Could Dominic Cummings follow pro-Brexit MPs out in wake of reshuffle? [REVEALED]
Leo Varadkar: How Taoiseach ‘wildly over-played’ his Brexit strategy [INSIGHT]
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has advocated for an EU Army
Nigel Farage has railed against the idea of an EU Army
In 2018, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in the Chamber: “We should work on the vision to one day create a true European Army,” amid a mixture of both jeers and applause.
Despite all this, many Remainers in the UK have denied that the EU plans to have a combined military force.
In 2014, then-Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg insisted that “the idea there’s going to be a European Air Force, a European Army is simply not true.”
Mr Clegg branded it a “dangerous fantasy” that Eurosceptics had cooked up, during an EU debate with Nigel Farage.
In the years that followed many maintained this argument, even in the face of unequivocal statements from Mrs Merkel, Mr Verhofstadt, Mr Juncker and also Ms von der Leyen.
Mr Farage for a long time was a lone voice on this issue, highlighting the clamour amongst those in power on the continent for militarisation at an EU level.
Former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg denied that the EU has plans for an EU Army
In October, he urged Reaminers to “stop lying” about the intentions of the bloc.
With Ms von der Leyen now at the helm for the next five years, this issue is unlikely to go away any time soon.
Many will see Brexit as a lucky escape for the UK, an opportunity to forge its own path instead of being sucked into a union that looks increasingly like a single state.