Looking at the idea of a European Army – you have two sides to look at. The fact base and the emotional side. Most discussion place the political problems in front of everything; But before figuring the actual problems to merge all those military forces – you need to figure weather it is a good idea to go ahead.
This article tries to solve the question from a people perspective. Which is – or should be – an emotional one. Also, I’m looking at it – from a mostly German perspective.
The german emotional attachments to the forces -Bundeswehr- is mostly ambivalent. As it is the successor of the “Wehrmacht” and the NVA „Nationale Volksarmee“ – both no institutions of great trust and known of cruelty.
Also – there is the knowledge of – mostly economic Power – and the wish of take on more responsibility. On the contrary there is a very strong party of peace movements in Germany – especially with B90/Die Grüne and die Linke – with strong opinions to not involve in any kind of military conflict and even deny any weapons delivery to anyone except local forces. (Which is kind of funny having a big defense industry in Germany (Airbus, Rheinmetal, Heckler & Koch,…))
On the other hand – there are the conservative and nationalist parties – especially AFD – which tends to need to have the feeling of ‘we need to be someone’. And this means – if you want to say something in the world – you need to have the military forces at least available – to underline your political agenda. Also, there is the feeling of: We (the germans) have enough of carrying the blame of the world wars. We do like to be proud of our soldiers and we don’t like to talk anymore about a war which is gone now by nearly 80 years.
This sides – are in germany – I can’t tell for the rest of Europeans – the sides of the peoples emotions.
The German nationalists (I don’t think any -local- nationalist does) don’t like the idea of giving up our forces to a greater European thing – as they deny this multi-laterale idea; And at least AFD nationalism is only local.
From my perspective – a greater “European Nationalism” is in need – and in contrast to the 19th century nationalism – a multicultural, democratic nationalism.
Still the emotional need – to be someone (again) – is present in all European countries – and even in the US (make America great again). And here a European Army as symbol of this need – comes into play.
Military expenses are a huge thing. For example, an aircraft carrier – costs about 1.2 Million USD a day and price of 13 Mrd. USD heads up! This is for some European countries not even a thinkable possibility.
There are some specialties in the European forces already – The Austrian army having the possiblites for mountain infantry, the Netherlands an exceptional navy. The French and German forces combining high-tech air-defense-, atomic-, special- and logistic-forces.
When combined with the exceptional british forces one of the biggest forces worldwide would be at start. But with Brexit – and even before – the brits doesn’t like the idea at all (local nationalism).
What else could be archived by setting up a European Army?
A European conscription would move young people a lot through Europe. When serving you would be assigned as a Greek to a post for example in Denmark. A French could be assigned on a polish unit and so on.
The Erasmus-program is one of the finest archivements of young Europe. It brings our people together – a European army would do the same. Also the mutual understanding of everyones prolems would increase. (If your son serves on a marine ship which needs to deal with african migration – it would become something you care as a parent very much.)
One thing to mention or to consider is that some people are even scared by this idea. A splitted Europe is in the eyes of some American and even Russian news-site a much more easy to controlled entity: