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Military of the European Union

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
European Union

The military of the European Union comprises the various cooperative structures that have been established between the armed forces of the member states, both intergovernmentally and within the institutional framework of the union; the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) branch of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).

The policy area of defence is traditionally the domain of individual sovereign states. The main military alliance in Europe remains the intergovernmental North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), which presently includes 22 EU member states together with five non-EU European countries; Iceland, Norway, Albania, Montenegro and Turkey as well as the United States and Canada. Although long impeded by concerns relating to national sovereignty and potential duplication of existing NATO structures, European defence integration has intensified in the beginning of the 21st century, bringing about the deployment of numerous CSDP operations and the establishment of a European Defence Agency (headed by the High Representative) as well as EU battlegroups. The latter have however never been engaged in operations, and other, recent initiatives of military integration, such as the European corps, gendarmerie force and air transport command are at present intergovernmental and outside the CFSP framework of the union.

Article 42 of the Treaty on European Union provides for substantial military integration within the institutional framework of the union:[2]

However the debate has intensified by the standoff between the EU and Russia over Ukraine, Brexit and the presidency of Donald Trump in the US. With new calls for an EU military by EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and by other European leaders and policy makers like the head of the German parliament's foreign policy committee Norbert Röttgen, saying an EU army was "a European vision whose time has come".[7][8] The mutual defence clause, Article 42.7, was invoked for the first time in November 2015 following the terrorist attacks in Paris, which were described by French President François Hollande as an attack against Europe as a whole.[9][10]

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The world watched in wonder when, in 1993, the European Union, known as the EU, was officially formed. Questions abounded! Would the UK and France finally be able to live harmoniously in perpetuity? Would Germany and the rest of Europe finally form an unbreakable alliance? With a currency to rival that of the US, and the combined military might of 28 different countries, the EU could easily be one of America’s greatest trading partners or one of its most menacing foes. Although the American and European Alliance is the strongest today than it's ever been, we thought it would be interesting to compare the military might of these two powerhouses and determine who would most likely win in a theoretical war, in this episode of the Infographics show; the European Union vs. the United States of America. Although money isn't everything, the first major difference worth pointing out is military spending: the annual defense budget of the European Union (which still includes the UK even though they recently voted to Brexit) is $227 billion or 3 times smaller than United States annual defense budget of $664 billion. When it comes to manpower, the EU has a population of 743 million people with 1.4 million being active military personnel and 1.7 million being reserve personnel. The United States has a population of 324 million people with 1.4 million being active military personnel and 1.1 million being reserve personnel. With programs such as Saber Strike, the 7th Army Training Command, and the Atlantic Resolve, it is safe to assume that the close connection between the US and the EU has resulted in reasonably similar training for the army personnel of each country. In terms of land systems, the EU and the US are also similarly matched. The EU has 6,700 tanks, 48,971 AFVs, 2,312 SPGs, 3,492 Towed-Artillery and 1,069 MLRSs. The US, on the other hand, has a fleet of 8,848 tanks, 41,000 AFVs, 1,934 SPGs, 1,300 Towed-Artillery, and 1,331 MLRSs. Despite the US having a larger number of ground tanks, Germany makes one of the top-ranked tanks, the Leopard 2, which has been purchased in the hundreds by countries all over Europe. It should be noted that while the US has troops and missiles stationed in Europe, there are no European army bases in the US. This is an obvious advantage to the US who could more easily bring the battle to European soil, keeping it away from the plants which manufacture American weapons, and again turning Europe into a war-zone similar to World War II. Of the US missiles on European soil, the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System located in Romania has recently gone online, and is manned by 130 US sailors. This defense system is currently run by NATO but in the case of a US-EU war, it would become an ideal base for the US on European soil. With regard to air power, the US currently has a larger and more modern Air Force, with 13,444 aircraft, the most popular being the American made F-16 Fighting Falcon. EU has less than half that with 6,751 total aircraft, the most popular being the Eurofighter Typhoon. Since the US and the European Union are on two different continents, it is important to take a look at each country’s naval power. The EU has a total of 61 submarines, 102 frigates, 21 destroyers, 39 corvettes, 167 Mine Warfare Craft, and 210 patrol craft. The United States, on the other hand, has 75 submarines, 6 frigates, 62 destroyers, 0 corvettes, 11 mine warfare craft, and 13 patrol craft. The two seem pretty tied, however the EU only has 8 aircraft carriers compared to the US’s 19. In the unlikely scenario that nuclear weapons are used, the US has a stockpile of 6,800 nuclear warheads, with 150 nuclear warheads located directly in Europe. Europe barely has 500 nuclear warheads of its own, split nearly evenly between the UK and France. As we all know, a major component of this military assessment is fuel, since almost every ground vehicle, aircraft, and naval unit needs fuel in order to operate. The European Union produces only 1.7 million barrels of oil a day, and consumes almost 8 times that each day. It also has 5.6 billion barrels of oil in reserve. The United states produces 9 million barrels of oil a day and consumes 19 million barrels, though it has 37 billion barrels of oil in reserve. It is safe to say both countries would need to rely on importing oil from other countries. The EU and the US share most of their allies, and it would be very interesting to see who allies with whom. As many will point out, experience is also a major factor when assessing military prowess. The EU and the US have been involved in the same wars for the last decade. However, the US military exists as a unified entity, and the EU runs much of their military on a country-by-country basis making communication and tactical planning much more complicated. When it comes to the all seeing eyes from space, both the European Union and the United States run their own Global Navigation Satellite Systems. The US has GPS and the EU has Galileo. GPS used to have the capability to block civilian signals called Selective Availability. One of the main reasons the EU developed Galileo was due to its concern that the US could deny others access to GPS during political disagreements. The two came to a compromise and the US is now in the process of replacing old GPS satellites with new ones that will not have selective availability enabled. So, who do you think would win the war, the US or the EU? Do you think there are factors we omitted that would make a difference? Is war between the EU and the US even a possibility? Let us know in the comments! And if you want to get a daily comparison or fun fact in your feed, follow us on social media. All the links are in the description of the video. Finally, don’t forget to like, subscribe, and share! Thanks for watching and see you in a few days. Subtitles by the community



Following the end of World War II and the defeat of the Axis Powers, the Dunkirk Treaty (the United States was not part of it) was signed by France and the United Kingdom on 4 March 1947 as a Treaty of Alliance and Mutual Assistance against a possible German attack in the aftermath of World War II. The Dunkirk Treaty entered into force on 8 September 1947. The 1948 Treaty of Brussels established the military Western Union Defence Organisation with an allied European command structure under Field Marshal Montgomery. Western European powers, except for Ireland, Sweden, Finland and Austria, signed the North Atlantic Treaty alongside the United States and Canada which only created a passive defence association until 1951 when, during the Korean War, the existing and fully functioning Western Union Defence Organisation was augmented to form the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, NATO.

Western European Union

In the early 1950s, France, Germany, Italy and the Benelux countries made an attempt to integrate the militaries of mainland western Europe, through the treaty establishing the European Defence Community (EDC). This scheme did not enter into force, however, as it failed to obtain approval for ratification in the French National Assembly where Gaullists feared for national sovereignty and Communists opposed a European military consolidation that could rival the Soviet Union. The failure to establish the EDC resulted in the 1954 amendment of the Treaty of Brussels at the London and Paris Conferences which, in replacement of EDC, established the political Western European Union (WEU) out of the earlier established military Western Union Defence Organisation and included West Germany and Italy in both WEU and NATO as the conference ended the occupation of West Germany and the defence aims had shifted from Germany to the Soviet Union.

Common Security and Defence Policy

 Map showing European membership of the EU and NATO   EU member only   NATO member only   Member of both
Map showing European membership of the EU and NATO
  EU member only
  NATO member only
  Member of both

Out of the 28 EU member states, 22 are also members of NATO. Another three NATO members are EU applicants—Albania, Montenegro and Turkey. Two others—Iceland and Norway—have opted to remain outside of the EU, however participate in the EU's single market. In 1996, the Western European Union (WEU) was tasked by NATO to implement a European Security and Defence Identity within NATO, which later was passed over to the EU Common Security and Defence Policy as all Western European Union functions were transferred to the European Union through the Lisbon Treaty. The memberships of the EU and NATO are distinct, and some EU member states are traditionally neutral on defence issues. Several of the new EU member states were formerly members of the Warsaw Pact. The Berlin Plus agreement is a comprehensive package of agreements made between NATO and the EU in 2002; it allows the EU to draw on some of NATO's assets in its own peacekeeping operations, subject to a "right of first refusal" in that NATO must first decline to intervene in a given crisis.

Following the Kosovo War in 1999, the European Council agreed that "the Union must have the capacity for autonomous action, backed by credible military forces, the means to decide to use them, and the readiness to do so, in order to respond to international crises without prejudice to actions by NATO". To that end, a number of efforts were made to increase the EU's military capability, notably the Helsinki Headline Goal process. After much discussion, the most concrete result was the EU Battlegroups initiative, each of which is planned to be able to quickly deploy about 1,500 personnel.[11]

The EU currently has a limited mandate over defence issues, with a role to explore the issue of European defence agreed to in the Amsterdam Treaty, as well as oversight of the Helsinki Headline Goal Force Catalogue (the 'European Rapid Reaction Force') processes. However, some EU states may and do make multilateral agreements about defence issues outside of the EU structures.

Initiative of the four

The European Defence Initiative is a proposal for enhanced European Union defence cooperation presented by France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg in Brussels on 29 April 2003. It was based on the reinforced cooperation principle and aimed for better reactivity under the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP).

Some critics felt that this intra-European process would be a source of tension in the transatlantic arena with NATO and some felt that this was a duplication of existing means with the call for a distinct European headquarters. There were also some concerns about a multi-speed Europe. Britain was initially opposed to the concept but subsequently modified its position in favour.[12]

It is sometimes referred to as the "Initiative of the Four".


On 20 February 2009 the European Parliament voted in favour of the creation of Synchronised Armed Forces Europe (SAFE) as a first step towards a true European military force. SAFE will be directed by an EU directorate, with its own training standards and operational doctrine. There are also plans to create an EU "Council of Defence Ministers" and "a European statute for soldiers within the framework of Safe governing training standards, operational doctrine and freedom of operational action".[13] EU forces have been deployed on peacekeeping missions from middle and northern Africa to Western Balkans and western Asia.[14] EU military operations are supported by a number of bodies, including the European Defence Agency, European Union Satellite Centre and the European Union Military Staff.[15] In an EU consisting of 28 members, substantial security and defence co-operation is increasingly relying on great power co-operation.[16]

The entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon triggered member states of the Western European Union (WEU) to scrap the organisation, which had largely become dormant, but they have kept the mutual defence clause of the Treaty of Brussels as the basis for the EU mutual defence arrangement.

Common Security and Defence Policy

 Federica Mogherini is the current High Representative of the union.
Federica Mogherini is the current High Representative of the union.

The defence arrangements which have been established under the EU institutions are part of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), a branch of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). It should be noted that Denmark has an opt-out from the CSDP.[1]

Security strategy

The European Security Strategy is the document in which the European Union clarifies its security strategy which is aimed at achieving a secure Europe in a better world, identifying the threats facing the Union, defining its strategic objectives and setting out the political implications for Europe.[17] The European security strategy was for the first time drawn up in 2003 under the authority of the EU's High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, and adopted by the Brussels European Council of 12 and 13 December 2003.

Defence Agency

The European Defence Agency (EDA) is an agency of the union based in Brussels. Set up on 12 July 2004, it is a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) body reporting to the Council of the European Union. Its primary role is to foster European defence cooperation.

Military Committee and Staff

Coats of arms of the Military Committee (left) and Staff

The European Union Military Staff (EUMS) is the body of the European External Action Service (EEAS) led by a Director General a General Officer, Admiral, or Air Officer of three-star level that supervises operations carried out by the union. The EUMS is overseen by the European Union Military Committee (EUMC). The EUMC is chaired by a General Officer, Admiral, or Air Officer of four-star level.

Institute for Security Studies

The European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) is a Paris-based agency of the European Union. The EUISS evolved from Western European Union Institute for Security Studies following a gradual transfer of powers from the Western European Union (WEU) to the EU. It now operates under the Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).

The EUISS is an autonomous agency with full intellectual freedom. As a think tank it researches security issues of relevance for the EU and provides a forum for debate. In its capacity as an EU agency, it also offers analyses and forecasting to the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini.

Battle groups

 Irish Army personnel from the Nordic Battle Group at an exercise in 2010
Irish Army personnel from the Nordic Battle Group at an exercise in 2010

The battle groups adhere to the CSDP, and are based on contributions from a coalition of member states. Each of the eighteen Battlegroups consists of a battalion-sized force (1,500 troops) reinforced with combat support elements.[18][19] The groups rotate actively, so that two are ready for deployment at all times. The forces are under the direct control of the Council of the European Union.

The Battlegroups reached full operational capacity on 1 January 2007, although, as of January 2013 they are yet to see any military action.[20] They are based on existing ad hoc missions that the European Union (EU) has undertaken and has been described by some as a new "standing army" for Europe.[19] The troops and equipment are drawn from the EU member states under a "lead nation". In 2004, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan welcomed the plans and emphasised the value and importance of the Battlegroups in helping the UN deal with troublespots.[21]

Security and Defence College

 Coat of arms of the college
Coat of arms of the college

The European Security and Defence College (ESDC) is a virtual institution for strategic level training within the area of Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). ESDC was created in 2005 by a decision of the Council of the European Union,[22] and takes the form of a network of various national institutions of the European Union member states, such as defence colleges, and the European Union Institute for Security Studies.[23]

Helsinki Headline Goal

The Helsinki Headline Goal Catalogue is a listing of rapid reaction forces composed of 60,000 troops managed by the European Union, but under control of the countries who deliver troops for it.

Development that is provided for

Common defence

The Treaty of Lisbon introduced the following in the founding treaties of the union:

Permanent structured co-operation

 In 2009 the Treaty of Lisbon (signing depicted) entered into force, enabling permanent structured cooperation in defence between a subset of willing member states. As of 2015 this option remains unused.
In 2009 the Treaty of Lisbon (signing depicted) entered into force, enabling permanent structured cooperation in defence between a subset of willing member states. As of 2015 this option remains unused.

The Treaty of Lisbon added the possibility for those members whose military capabilities fulfill higher criteria and which have made more binding commitments to one another in this area with a view to the most demanding missions shall establish permanent structured cooperation (PESCO) within the EU framework (PSCD).[25]

Those states shall notify their intention to the Council and to the High Representative. The Council then adopts, by qualified majority a decision establishing PESCO and determining the list of participating Member States. Any other member state, that fulfills the criteria and wishes to participate, can join the PSCD following the same procedure, but in the voting for the decision will participate only the states already part of the PSCD. If a participating state no longer fulfills the criteria a decision suspending its participation is taken by the same procedure as for accepting new participants, but excluding the concerned state from the voting procedure. If a participating state wishes to withdraw from PSCD it just notifies the Council to remove it from the list of participants. All other decisions and recommendations of the Council concerning PSCD issues unrelated to the list of participants are taken by unanimity of the participating states.[25]

The criteria established in the PSCD Protocol are the following:[25]

On 7 September 2017 an agreement was made between EU foreign affairs ministers to move forward with PESCO with 10 initial projects. Although the details are still to be established, the aim would be for it to be as inclusive of member states as possible and is anticipated to be activated in December 2017.[26][27][28][29]

Intergovernmental cooperation

This section presents an incomplete list of forces and bodies established intergovernmentally outside the legal framework of the union amongst a subset of member states. The military forces that have been established are typically dedicated in priority to the European Union (EU), but may also be deployed either in a NATO environment, acting as part of the European branch of NATO, acting upon the mandate of the participating countries, or acting upon the mandate of other international organisations, such as United Nations, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, or any other international entity.



Finabel is an organisation that promotes cooperation and interoperability between the armies of its participating nations.[30] Founded in 1953, Finabel has a small permanent secretariat, and is controlled by the army chiefs of staff of its participating nations. The organisation maintains working groups that publish studies relating to standardisation of equipment, procedures, testing methods and glossaries.


 Personnel of the European Corps in Strasbourg, France, during a change of command ceremony in 2013
Personnel of the European Corps in Strasbourg, France, during a change of command ceremony in 2013

The European Corps, often shortened as Eurocorps, is an army corps of approximately 1,000 soldiers stationed in Strasbourg, France. Based in the French city of Strasbourg, the corps had its headquarters established in May 1992, activated in October 1993 and declared operational in 1995. The nucleus of the force is the Franco-German Brigade, established in 1987.[31]

I. German/Dutch Corps

 Coat of arms of the corps
Coat of arms of the corps

I. German/Dutch Corps is a multinational formation consisting of units from the Dutch and German armies. The corps headquarters also takes part in NATO Response Force readiness rotations. The Corps' headquarters are situated in Münster (Westphalia), formerly the headquarters of the German Army's I. Corps out of which 1 German/Netherlands Corps evolved. The corps has national and multinational operational responsibilities, and its commanding officer is the only one in Europe to have OPCON in peacetime.[32] Due to its role as a NATO High Readiness Forces Headquarters, soldiers from other NATO member states, the United States, Denmark, Norway, Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom amongst others, are also stationed at Münster.

Multinational Corps Northeast

 Coat of arms of the corps
Coat of arms of the corps

The Multinational Corps Northeast was formed on 18 September 1999 at Szczecin, Poland, which became its headquarters. It evolved from what was for many years the only multinational corps in NATO, Allied Land Forces Schleswig-Holstein and Jutland (LANDJUT) (in its turn, a part of Allied Forces Northern Europe). From 1962 LANDJUT had been responsible for the defence of the Baltic Approaches from a headquarters at Rendsburg, Germany. It comprised the 6th Panzergrenadier Division and the Danish Jutland Division.

Gendarmerie Force

The European Gendarmerie Force (EUROGENDFOR or EGF) is an intervention force with militarised police functions and specialisation in crisis management, designed after the French Gendarmerie, the Spanish Guardia Civil, and the Italian Carabinieri and its Multinational Specialized Units (M.S.U.).[33][34] The force was created in 2006, and had its status enshrined in the Treaty of Velsen, signed 18 October 2007.[35]


Air Group

The European Air Group (EAG) an organisation that promotes cooperation and interoperability between the air forces of its participating nations. It was established in 1995 to promote collaboration between the British and French air forces in the first Gulf War and the subsequent Balkans operations.

Air Transport Command

 The seat of the command, which is under construction and will be inaugurated in 2016[36]
The seat of the command, which is under construction and will be inaugurated in 2016[36]

The European Air Transport Command (EATC) is the command centre that exercises the operational control of the majority of the aerial refueling capabilities and military transport fleets of its participating nations. Located at Eindhoven Airbase in the Netherlands, the command also bears a limited responsibility for exercises, aircrew training and the harmonisation of relevant national air transport regulations.[37][38]

The command was established in 2010 with a view to provide a more efficient management of the participating nations' assets and resources in this field.


Maritime Force

The European Maritime Force (Euromarfor or EMF) is a non-standing,[39] military force[40] that may carry out naval, air and amphibious operations, with an activation time of 5 days after an order is received.[41] The force was formed in 1995 to fulfill missions defined in the Petersberg Declaration, such as sea control, humanitarian missions, peacekeeping operations, crisis response operations, and peace enforcement.


Movement Coordination Centre

Movement Coordination Centre Europe (MCCE) is an organisation located at Eindhoven Airport in the Netherlands that aims to coordinate and optimise the use of airlift, sealift and land movement assets owned or leased by its participating nations. Established on 1 July 2007 when the earlier European Airlift Centre (EAC) and the Sealift Co-ordination Centre (SCC) merged, the MCCE was a response to the shortage of aerial and naval strategic lift capabilities reported by the EU and NATO in 1999. The centre is presently staffed by 30 military and civilians personnel from its participating nations. In addition to its EU members, the United States and Turkey participate in the MCCE.

Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation

 The national acquisitions of the A400M transport aircraft (depicted in 2010) were made jointly made through OCCAR.
The national acquisitions of the A400M transport aircraft (depicted in 2010) were made jointly made through OCCAR.

The Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (shortened OCCAR; the French acronym) is an organisation that facilitates and manages collaborative armament programmes through their lifecycle between its participating nations.

Combined Joint Expeditionary Force

 French president Nicolas Sarkozy and British prime minister David Cameron signing the Lancaster House Treaties in 2010, establishing the Franco-British Expeditionary Force
French president Nicolas Sarkozy and British prime minister David Cameron signing the Lancaster House Treaties in 2010, establishing the Franco-British Expeditionary Force

The Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF) is a Franco-British military force. It draws upon both the British Armed Forces and the French Armed Forces to field a deployable force with land, air and maritime components together with command and control and supporting logistics. It is distinct from the similarly named UK Joint Expeditionary Force.

The Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (or CJEF) is envisaged as a deployable, combined Franco-British military force for use in a wide range of crisis scenarios, up to and including high intensity combat operations. As a joint force it involves all three armed Services: a land component composed of formations at national brigade level, maritime and air components with their associated Headquarters, together with logistics and support functions.

The CJEF is not conceived as a standing force but rather as available at notice for UK-French bilateral, NATO, European Union, United Nations or other operations. Combined air and land exercises commenced during 2011 with a view towards developing a full capability. The CJEF is also seen as a potential stimulus towards greater interoperability and coherence in military doctrine, training and equipment requirements.


Finabel European Corps European Gendarmerie Force European Air Transport Command European Air Group European Maritime Force Movement Coordination Centre Europe[a] Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation
Arms Arms of Finabel.svg Coat of arms of Eurocorps.svg Arms of the European Gendarmerie Force.svg Coat of arms of the European Air Transport Command.svg Coat of arms of the European Air Group.svg Coat of arms of Euromarfor.svg Coat of arms of Movement Coordination Centre Europe.svg None
Branch Terrestrial Aerial Naval Multi-component
Description Organisation promoting interoperability Corps Gendarmerie Command for refueling and transport capabilities Organisation promoting interoperability Non-standing force Control centre for movement Organisation facilitating armament programmes
Founded 1953 1992 2006 2010 1995 1995 2007 1996
Seat Brussels Strasbourg Vicenza Eindhoven Buckinghamshire N/A Eindhoven Bonn
Capacity N/A 60 000 troops 2 300 troops 220 aircraft N/A N/A N/A N/A
Response time N/A 30 days 30 days N/A N/A 5 days N/A N/A
Motto Reflexion serving military action None Lex paciferat Integrated, innovative, efficient Improved capability through interoperability At sea for peace None None
Working language English English Unknown English Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown
Membership (year of accession)
Austria coat of arms official.svg Austria No No N/A No No N/A 2010 No
Royal Arms of Belgium.svg Belgium 1953 1993 N/A 2010 1997 No 2007 2003
Coat of arms of Bulgaria (version by constitution).svg Bulgaria No No No No No No 2017 No
Lesser coat of arms of Cyprus.svg Cyprus 2008 No N/A No No No No No
Coat of arms of Croatia.svg Croatia No No N/A No No No 2011 No
Small coat of arms of the Czech Republic.svg Czech Republic 2012 No N/A No No N/A 2010 No
National Coat of arms of Denmark no crown.svg Denmark No No N/A No No No 2007 No
Small coat of arms of Estonia.svg Estonia No No N/A No No No 2007 No
Coat of arms of Finland.svg Finland 2008 No N/A No No No 2007 No
Armoiries république française.svg France 1953 1992 2006 2010 1995 1995 2007 1996
Coat of arms of Germany.svg Germany 1956 1992 N/A 2010 1997 No 2007 1996
Coat of arms of Greece.svg Greece 1996 No N/A No No No No No
Arms of Hungary.svg Hungary 2015 No No No No N/A 2007 No
Coat of arms of Ireland.svg Ireland No No N/A No No No No No
Emblem of Italy.svg Italy 1953 No 2006 2015 1997 1995 2007 1996
Arms of Latvia.svg Latvia 2016 No N/A No No No 2007 No
Coat of arms of Lithuania.svg Lithuania No No Partner No No No 2015 No
Arms of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.svg Luxembourg 1953 1996 N/A 2012 No N/A 2007 No
Arms of Malta.svg Malta 2010 No N/A No No No No No
Royal Arms of the Netherlands.svg Netherlands 1953 No 2006 2010 1997 No 2007 No
Herb Polski.svg Poland 2006 No 2011 No No No 2008 No
Shield of the Kingdom of Portugal (1481-1910).png Portugal 1996 No 2006 No No 1995 2010 No
Coat of arms of Romania.svg Romania 2008 No 2009 No No No 2008 No
Coat of arms of Slovakia.svg Slovakia 2006 No N/A No No N/A 2015 No
Coat of arms of Slovenia.svg Slovenia 2016 No N/A No No No 2007 No
Arms of Spain.svg Spain 1990 1994 2006 2014 1997 1995 2007 2005
Shield of arms of Sweden.svg Sweden 2015 No N/A No No No 2007 No
Arms of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom 1973 No N/A No 1995 No 2007 1996

National militaries

Six EU states host nuclear weapons: France and the United Kingdom each have their own nuclear programmes, while Belgium, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands host US nuclear weapons as part of NATO's nuclear sharing policy. Combined, the EU possesses 525 warheads, and hosts between 90 and 130 US warheads. The EU has the third largest arsenal of nuclear weapons, after the United States and Russia.

Expenditure and personnel

The following table presents the military expenditures of the members of the European Union in euros (€). The combined military expenditure of the member states amounts to just over €194,7 billion.[1] This represents 1.42% of European Union GDP.[1] European military expenditure includes spending on joint projects such as the Eurofighter Typhoon and joint procurement of equipment. The European Union's combined active military forces in 2014 totaled 1,423,097 personnel. According to the European Defence Agency, the European Union had an average of 31,570 land force personnel deployed around the world (or 2.2% of the total military personnel). In a major operation the EU could readily deploy up-to 417,180 land force personnel and sustain 79,352 of those during an enduring operation.[1]

In a speech in 2012, Swedish General Håkan Syrén criticised the spending levels of European Union countries, saying that in the future those countries' military capability will decrease, creating "critical shortfalls".[42]

Guide to table:

  • All figure entries in the table below are provided by the European Defence Agency for the year 2014. Figures from other sources are not included.
Member state Expenditure (€ mn.) Per capita (€) % of GDP Military personnel (active) Deployable land forces
Total/average[1] 194,782 387 1.42 1,423,097 417,180
Austria Austria[1] 2,491 292 0.76 22,689 2,234
Belgium Belgium[1] 3,913 351 0.97 30,174 6,691
Bulgaria Bulgaria[1] 563 78 1.34 25,188 6,380
Croatia Croatia[1] 606 143 1.41 15,380 2,098
Cyprus Cyprus[1] 270 315 1.54 11,747 237
Czech Republic Czech Republic[1] 1,493 142 0.96 20,222 7,867
Denmark Denmark[1]
Estonia Estonia[1] 386 294 1.98 6,285 483
Finland Finland[1] 2,714 497 1.33 8,275 1,738
France France[1] 39,198 592 1.83 207,000 63,350
Germany Germany[1] 34,749 422 1.20 178,800
Greece Greece[1] 4,001 364 2.23 113,517 21,500
Hungary Hungary[1] 912 92 0.88 22,667 3,714
Republic of Ireland Ireland[1] 893 193 0.48 9,280 850
Italy Italy[1] 18,427 303 1.14 183,465
Latvia Latvia[1] 223 112 0.93 4,646 1,242
Lithuania Lithuania[1] 322 110 0.89 8,568
Luxembourg Luxembourg[1] 190 341 0.54 821 242
Malta Malta[1] 43 100 0.54 1,662 105
Netherlands Netherlands[1] 7,788 462 1.19 42,102 14,685
Poland Poland[1] 7,565 197 1.83 99,500 1,464
Portugal Portugal[1] 2,501 241 1.45 30,302 7,878
Romania Romania[1] 2,029 102 1.35 69,556 9,605
Slovakia Slovakia[1] 749 138 1.00 13,338 4,602
Slovenia Slovenia[1] 366 178 0.98 6,765 3,000
Spain Spain[1] 9,508 205 0.90 121,848 43,812
Sweden Sweden[1] 4,711 486 1.10 15,570 2,818
United Kingdom UK[1] 48,172 747 2.17 153,730 69,808

Naval forces

 Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier is the largest commissioned warship in the European Union.
Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier is the largest commissioned warship in the European Union.

The combined component strength of the naval forces of member states is some 563 commissioned warships. Of those in service, 3 are fleet carriers, the largest of which is the 42,000 tonne Charles de Gaulle. However two 70,600 tonne Queen Elizabeth-class carriers are projected to enter service in the Royal Navy starting 2017. The EU also has 5 amphibious assault ships and 25 amphibious support ships in service. Of the EU's 63 submarines, 21 are nuclear-powered submarines (11 British and 10 French) while 42 are conventional attack submarines.

Operation Atalanta (formally European Union Naval Force Somalia) is the first ever (and still ongoing) naval operation of the European Union. It is part of a larger global action by the EU in the Horn of Africa to deal with the Somali crisis. As of January 2011 twenty-three EU nations participate in the operation.

Guide to table:

Member state Fleet carrier Amphibious assault ship Amphibious support ship Destroyer Frigate Corvette Patrol vessel Anti‑mine ship Missile sub. Attack sub. Total Tonnage
European Union EU 4 5 25 37 87 35 125 150 8 55 500 516 1,500,000 ~1,600,000
Austria Austria 0 0
Belgium Belgium[43] 2 2 5 9 10,009
Bulgaria Bulgaria 1 4 3 1 10 18 15,160
Croatia Croatia 5 2 7 2,869
Cyprus Cyprus 0 0
Czech Republic Czech Republic 0 0
Denmark Denmark[44] 5 4 9 18 51,235
Estonia Estonia 3 3 2,000
Finland Finland 4 4 12 20 5,429
France France[45] 1 3 2 10 11 20 18 4 6 78 319,195
Germany Germany[46] 3 7 5 8 15 4 44 82,790
Greece Greece[47] 5 13 26 4 11 51 137,205
Hungary Hungary 0 0
Republic of Ireland Ireland[48] 8 8 12,133
Italy Italy[49] 2 3 4 15 2 10 10 8 54 301,305
Latvia Latvia 5 5 3,025
Lithuania Lithuania[50] 4 4 8 5,678
Luxembourg Luxembourg 0 0
Malta Malta[51] 2 2 1,419
Netherlands Netherlands[52] 2 4 2 4 6 4 22 116,308
Poland Poland[53] 5 2 1 3 19 5 28 19,724
Portugal Portugal[54] 5 7 7 2 23 34,686
Romania Romania[55] 3 7 6 5 21 23,090
Slovakia Slovakia 0 0
Slovenia Slovenia[56] 2 2 900
Spain Spain[57] 1 2 5 6 18 7 3 42 148,607
Sweden Sweden[58] 6 11 5 22 14,256
United Kingdom UK[59] 1 1 5 6 13 4 15 4 7 51 342,850

Land forces

 The Leopard 2 main battle tank
The Leopard 2 main battle tank

Combined, the member states of the European Union maintain large numbers of various land-based military vehicles and weaponry.

Guide to table:

  • The table is not exhaustive and only includes land forces equipment of EU-NATO member countries under the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE treaty).
  • The CFE treaty only includes equipment geographically stationed within Europe. Equipment overseas on operations are not counted.
  • The "main battle tank" category also includes tank destroyers (such as the Italian B1 Centauro) or any self-propelled armoured fighting vehicle, capable of heavy firepower. According to the CFE treaty.
  • The "armoured fighting vehicle" category includes any armoured vehicle primarily designed to transport infantry and equipped with an automatic cannon of at least 20 mm calibre. According to the CFE treaty.
  • The "artillery" category includes self-propelled or towed howitzers and mortars of 100 mm calibre and above. Other types of artillery are not included regardless of characteristics. According to the CFE treaty.
  • The "attack helicopter" category includes any rotary wing aircraft armed and equipped to engage targets or equipped to perform other military functions (such as the Apache or the Wildcat). According to the CFE treaty.
Member state Main battle tank Armoured fighting vehicle Artillery Attack helicopter
European Union EU[60] 7,549 17,800 9,019 788
Austria Austria 59 112 83
Belgium Belgium[60] 32 152 113 26
Bulgaria Bulgaria[60] 314 556 950 12
Croatia Croatia
Cyprus Cyprus
Czech Republic Czech Republic[60] 123 440 179 17
Denmark Denmark[60] 56 249 31 12
Estonia Estonia
Finland Finland 140 196 732
France France[60] 484 3,130 505 232
Germany Germany[60] 816 1,485 345 72
Greece Greece[60] 1,621 2,254 1,890 29
Hungary Hungary[60] 74 575 30 18
Republic of Ireland Ireland 24
Italy Italy[60] 1,168 2,340 1,086 94
Latvia Latvia
Lithuania Lithuania
Luxembourg Luxembourg
Malta Malta
Netherlands Netherlands[60] 114 500 131 16
Poland Poland[60] 984 1,691 852 87
Portugal Portugal[60] 220 407 374
Romania Romania[60] 725 1,304 1,286 22
Slovakia Slovakia[60] 30 315 67
Slovenia Slovenia
Spain Spain[60] 476 1,046 829 31
Sweden Sweden[61][62][63] 120 509 36
United Kingdom UK[60] 408 5,244 268 120

Air forces

The air forces of EU member states operate a wide range of military systems and hardware. This is primarily due to the independent requirements of each member state and also the national defence industries of some member states. However such programmes like the Eurofighter Typhoon and Eurocopter Tiger have seen many European nations design, build and operate a single weapons platform. 60% of overall combat fleet was developed and manufactured by member states, 32% are US-origin, but some of these were assembled in Europe, while remaining 8% are soviet-made aircraft. As of 2014, it is estimated that the European Union had around 2,000 serviceable combat aircraft (fighter aircraft and ground-attack aircraft).[64]

The EUs air-lift capabilities are evolving with the future introduction of the Airbus A400M (another example of EU defence cooperation). The A400M is a tactical airlifter with strategic capabilities.[65] Around 140 are initially expected to be operated by 6 member states (UK, Luxembourg, France, Germany, Spain and Belgium).

Guide to tables:

  • The tables are sourced from figures provided by Flight International for the year 2014.
  • Aircraft are grouped into three main types (indicated by colors): red for combat aircraft, green for aerial refueling aircraft, and grey for strategic and tactical transport aircraft.
  • The two "other" columns include additional aircraft according to their type sorted by colour (i.e. the "other" category in red includes combat aircraft, while the "other" category in grey includes both aerial refueling and transport aircraft). This was done because it was not feasible allocate every aircraft type its own column.
  • Other aircraft such as trainers, helicopters, UAVs and reconnaissance or surveillance aircraft are not included in the below tables or figures.
Fighter and ground-attack
Member state Typhoon Rafale Mirage 2000 Gripen F-16 F/A-18 F-35 Tornado Harrier II MiG-29 Other Total
European Union EU[64] 416 123 174 125 463 148 21 241 32 58 238 2,039
Austria Austria[64] 15 28 Saab 105 15
Belgium Belgium[64] 59 59
Bulgaria Bulgaria[64] 15 15
Croatia Croatia[64] 12 MiG-21 12
Cyprus Cyprus[64] 0
Czech Republic Czech Republic[64] 14 19 L-159 31
Denmark Denmark[64] 60 60
Estonia Estonia[64] 0
Finland Finland[64] 62 62
France France[64] 123 131 254
Germany Germany[64] 125 85 210
Greece Greece[64] 43 166 46 F-4 255
Hungary Hungary[64] 14 14
Republic of Ireland Ireland[64] 0
Italy Italy[64] 86 8 76 16 53 AMX 239
Latvia Latvia[64] 0
Lithuania Lithuania[64] L-39 1
Luxembourg Luxembourg[64] 0
Malta Malta[64] 0
Netherlands Netherlands[64] 87 2 89
Poland Poland[64] 48 31 36 Su-22 115
Portugal Portugal[64] 31 31
Romania Romania[64] 12 36 MiG-21 38
Slovakia Slovakia[64] 12 L-39 19
Slovenia Slovenia[64] 0
Spain Spain[64] 58 86 16 147
Sweden Sweden[64] 97 97
United Kingdom UK[64] 145 14 80 239
Aerial refueling and transport
Member state A330 MRTT A310 MRTT KC-135/707 C-17 C-130 C-160 C-27J CN-235/C-295 An-26 A400M Other Total
European Union EU[64] 15 4 16 8 120 107 30 83 16 41 53 459
Austria Austria[64] 5 5
Belgium Belgium[64] 11 1 A321 12
Bulgaria Bulgaria[64] 2 2 1 A319 5
Croatia Croatia[64] 4 2 An-32B 6
Cyprus Cyprus[64] 0
Czech Republic Czech Republic[64] 4 6 2 A319 12
DenmarkDenmark[64] 4 4
Estonia Estonia[64] 0
Finland Finland[64] 2 1 F27 3
France France[64] 1 14 14 36 27 11 3 A310
3 A340
Germany Germany[64] 4 71 13 1 A310
2 A319
Greece Greece[64] 15 8 21
Hungary Hungary[64] 4 4
Republic of Ireland Ireland[64] 2 1 BNT-2 CC2/B 3
Italy Italy[64] 16 12 4 KC-767 3 KC-130J 3A319 1Airbus A340-500 39
Latvia Latvia[64] 0
Lithuania Lithuania[64] 3 3
Luxembourg Luxembourg[64] 0
Malta Malta[64] 2 BNT-2 CC2/B
2 King Air 200
Netherlands Netherlands[64] 4 2 (K)DC-10 6
Poland Poland[64] 5 16 20
Portugal Portugal[64] 6 7 13
Romania Romania[64] 2 7 2 11
Slovakia Slovakia[64] 2 2
Slovenia Slovenia[64] 0
Spain Spain[64] 2 7 21 1 5 KC-130H
2 A310
Sweden Sweden[64] 7 1 KC-130H 8
United Kingdom UK[64] 14 8 24 16 4 BAe 146
3 BNT-2 CC2/B

See also


  1. ^ The membership of Movement Coordination Centre Europe also includes some countries outside the union.


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External links

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