German army soldiers stand at attention for the Georgian natinal anthem during the closing ceremony for Noble Partner 18 at Vaziani Training Area, Georgia, Aug. 15, 2018. Noble Partner 18 was a cooperatively-led multinational training exercise in its fourth iteration which supported the training of Georgian Armed Forces’ mechanized and Special Operation Forces, U.S. Regionally Aligned Forces, the U.S. Army and Air National Guard from the state of Georgia, and 11 other participating nations. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kris Bonet)

Europeans don’t do theatrics quite as well as Americans – which is why, luckily for her, German Chancellor Angela Merkel never stood on an aircraft carrier in front of a large banner reading “mission accomplished”. Other than in the lack of ill-fated symbolism, however, Germany’s current take on European defence bears an eerie resemblance to then-president George W Bush’s premature declaration of victory in Iraq in 2003.

To get a sense of where EU policy might go in the future and who likes working with whom, the European Council on Foreign Relations has in last few years carried out an expert survey that forms the basis of its EU Coalition Explorer. This year, 845 policymakers and experts spread across all 27 EU member states provided ECFR with a sense of their respective governments’ priorities. One thing is clear: it isn’t common European defence.

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