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Ukip criticises EU army comments

A European Union (EU) army would show Russia that the 28-member bloc is serious about defending its values, Jean-Claude Juncker has suggested.

The European Commission president's comments, reported in a German newspaper, were condemned by Ukip, which warned the move would be a "tragedy for the UK".

Mr Juncker told Welt am Sonntag: "Such an army would help us to build a common foreign and national security policy, and to collectively take on Europe's responsibilities in the world. "

With eastern European members of the EU concerned about Russian aggression following the Ukraine crisis, M r Juncker added: " It would show Russia that we are serious when it comes to defending the value of the European Union."

The comments were seized on by Ukip's defence spokesman Mike Hookem, who said: " A European army would be a tragedy for the UK.

"We have all seen the utter mess the EU has made of the eurozone economy, so how can we even think of trusting them with this island's defence?

"This is simply a disaster in the making that would see Gibraltar returned to Spain and the Falkland Islands left open to an unopposed invasion by Argentina.

"Even more concerning would be the prospect of British troops under European command operating in the eastern Ukraine."

A Government spokeswoman said: "Our position is crystal clear that defence is a national, not an EU responsibility and that there is no prospect of that position changing and no prospect of a European army."

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