According to one retired Italian general, the years of Great Britain "sabotaging" any attempt to form a united European army are over after the decision to leave the European Union in June.
Gen. Vincenzo Camporini, former head of the Italian general staff ,was one of four European military officials who formed a working group in 1999 to map out a European army, a plan known as the Helsinki Headline Goal.
He explained to Defense News about the years of frustration trying to bring British leaders on board with the idea.
“The UK always opposed funding increases, and three quarters of the agency’s budget is absorbed by salaries, leaving it as a body whose scope is survival,” he said. “It was clear that after its early enthusiasm, UK sentiment for EU defense cooled.”
But now, Camporini is ready to take the next step and is looking for potential members.
“The British attitude was an excuse for other — some people hid behind the UK. Now the excuse is no longer there; who is ready to go forward? I believe the Germans are willing, although I have doubts about France because of its nuclear deterrent. Will that be shared? It is a very delicate political issue.”
Pressure for a united European army has increased over the past few weeks. Hungary's prime minister urged the European Union on Friday to make security a priority and build an army of its own.
"We must give priority to security and so let's start setting up a joint European army," Prime Minister Viktor Orban said.