Von der Leyen was referencing the now public decision by the Netherlands to combine their land forces and naval assets with the German military. In 2015 the Dutch 11th Airmobile Brigade and the Karel Doorman, the Netherland’s largest warship, were placed under German command. In March 2016 the Dutch 43rd Mechanized Brigade followed suit, with plans in place for the remainder of their navy, the 13th Mechanized Brigade, their special forces units, and remaining military infrastructure to complete the merger by 2018.
2) Also in July 2015, Dr. Norbert Röttgen, the head of Germany’s Committee on Foreign Affairs — which handles highly sensitive security matters — described an EU Army as “a vision whose time has come,” during an interview with Welt. “The European countries spend enormous sums on the military, many times more in total when compared to Russia. Yet our military capabilities remain unsatisfactory from a security standpoint. And they will for as long as we’re talking about national mini-armies, which are often doing and purchasing the same things in their minor formats,” Röttgen said.
4) , Joseph Daul, the president of the EPP said “we [the European Union] are going to move towards an EU army much faster than people believe,” citing concerns over “Russian aggression” and containment of the migrant crisis as justifications for the move.
Fast forward to April 22 2016, Britain’s Defense Secretary Michael Fallon described the newly formed Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF), which is a 5,000-strong rapid deployment joint English-French combat brigade; designed specifically to respond to both humanitarian crises and conventional conflicts. Fallon said a “new chapter” had opened that would take cooperation between the two nations “to greater heights”, adding: “This is no paper tiger, this is a force that from now on has the teeth, the means, the speed and the agility to act.” Fallon said that it was now unlikely that Britain would “ever go into conflict on its own again”.
Speaking with Fallon at the speech in Salisbury Plain, UK, French Defense Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said Exercise Griffin Strike — the largest joint exercise between Britain and France in more than 50 years — was just the “start” of military cooperation across the continent. Le Drian had previously met with German Defense Minister Von der Leyen in 2015 to discuss ways to increase military collaboration inside the EU.