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Germany’s Merkel calls for a European Union military

German troops of 9. Panzerlehrbrigade and British Army troops of the 4th Infantry Brigade, The Black Rats form up after crossing a river during Exercise Trident Juncture 2018 near Rena, Norway October 22, 2018

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

“We should work on a vision of one day establishing a real European army,” Merkel told the European Parliament during a keynote speech in which she consciously backed Macron’s call for European defence planning, operations and weapons development.

Macron’s call, which reflects a broad trend of EU thinking but is not universally accepted, was meant to show European willingness to meet US demands that Europe do more for its own security and rely less on America’s security umbrella.

Merkel said such an armed forces would not undermine the US-led military alliance Nato but could be complementary to it. Her remarks drew loud applause in the legislature but also boos from nationalist members.

However, on Twitter on Nov. 9, Trump accused Macron of seeking to develop its 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, which is an economic giant but a geopolitical minnow.

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