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The Big Picture

Reveille in Europe?

After years of debates about deepening the European Union's political integration, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have now both come out in support of forming a joint European army. But, as always, the question is whether the EU can match its aspirations with concrete actions.

In this Big Picture, Hans Werner-Sinn finds it promising that France is now leading the push for collective defense, given that it was the original spoiler during similar debates in the post-war period. By the same token, Javier Solana notes that Merkel's newfound freedom from reelection concerns is what really opened the door for serious reform.

But Carl Bildt is skeptical, arguing that even if the EU does expand its security cooperation, a centrally commanded defense force remains unlikely. After all, as Adam Tooze and Shahin ValleĆ© point out, Germany has deep-seated "post-military habits" that it has yet to overcome. And Harold James warns that decidedly Franco-German initiatives come with their own risks at a time of rising Euroskepticism on the EU periphery.

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