German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in an interview on Sunday that she supports the idea of a joint European defense force, adding that the initiative could even be open to UK’s participation after Brexit, Politico reports.
The EU has been under pressure to show unity after US President Donald Trump’s recent moves such as pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal and imposing tariffs on European steel and aluminium exports, according to Reuters.
In the interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAS), Merkel clarified her views on several issues. First, she supports the idea of turning the euro zone’s ESM bailout mechanism into a European Monetary Fund that could offer short-term loans for countries under economic stress.
Merkel also backs the step-by-step introduction of a euro zone investment budget in the low double-digit billions of euros. In terms of migration, she wants common asylum standards, a European border police force and a pan-European migration agency, saying that countries that refuse to take on refugees could compensate with contributions in other areas.
The German Chancellor also said she agreed with French President Emmanuel Macron’s idea for a European intervention force with a “common strategic military culture”, opening the door to a more active defense role for Germany. She said the initiative should bring down the number of different EU weapon systems from 180 to “about 30”.
Asked about her goals for the EU in the next five to ten years, Merkel said: “My goal is that the world knows: In foreign policy, Europe speaks with one voice.”