The European Union may have a military training mission in place in Mozambique in the coming months, the bloc’s foreign policy chief said on Friday. Sixty Portuguese soldiers were sent to the southern African country in May to fight Islamist insurgents.
Speaking ahead of the EU defense ministers’ summit in Lisbon, Portuguese Defense Minister Joao Cravinho said seven or eight member states have expressed willingness to join the military operation.
He added that the expanded EU-wide mission could be approved next month and insisted Portugal was ready to provide up to 50 percent of the workforce.
The joint operation is another step towards the creation of a European army – something previously dismissed as a “dangerous fantasy” by the former leader of the Liberal Democrats.
With the prospect of an EU army drawing closer to reality, reminders of the scareism used by Mr Clegg towards Brexiteers sparked a backlash from a number of Express.co.uk readers who make their opinions known in the comments section of a first story.
One reader wrote: “Dangerous fantasy”? Aye Cleggy?
A second added: “The little boy Clegg had no idea, if like me he had read the press in France, he would have understood that many years ago Europe wanted its own army, a single tax system and one government for Europe, not one for each country as it is now. “
A third commented: “It would be the EU military which Cameron and Clegg said would never exist.
“Most likely an occupying army in any EU country that does not pull the EU line, purely for the sake of France or Germany.”
A fourth added: “Yes, the ‘dangerous fantasy’ that was never going to happen Nick.”
Meanwhile, the fifth said: “Why the hell does a trading club need its own army, scary times for the EU.”
Journalist Iain Dale reminded the former Deputy Prime Minister of his previous rejection of the idea.
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The Portuguese military is currently following a four-month program to train eleven Mozambican soldiers to counter the threat of insurgency, share intelligence and use drones to track the movements of militants.
The EU mission is intended to expand Portugal’s work to provide training on a larger scale, and Member States unable to send troops could provide other forms of assistance such as satellite communication, a Mr Cravinho said.
The EU chief had previously said that up to 300 people could be sent to Mozambique by the end of the year.