Early plans for a European army may have failed to transpire in the wake of World War II, but European Union member states have since taken numerous small steps to integrate their armed forces. The idea of a Europe-wide military is ever-closer to reality.

Military treaties for a joint European army were signed a few years after the end of WWII. As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, this defence cooperation pact laid out the details, from acquiring new uniforms to implementing a clear command structure.

France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg would supply the European Army with soldiers. The lower level military units would operate on a purely national level, while officers from several participating states would be expected to serve as leaders.

According to DW, the idea has been revived by recent events – from United States President Donald Trump’s lack of interest in Europe and the increased threat posed by Russia to the UK’s looming withdrawal from the EU.

The first major step was last year when 25 EU member states agreed to the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) on the integration of national militaries into an EU force. This could set the groundwork for a European military.

DW reported that EU countries are increasingly recognising the need to accelerate closer military cooperation within the bloc. This not only applies to smaller nations like the Netherlands, but also to EU heavyweights like France and Germany.