Europe

EU executive: Bloc must do more in defense field

  • EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker delivers his State of the Union address at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016. Juncker, the head of the European Union's executive said that the EU "still does not have enough Union" and that the bloc still needs more united action to move forward in the face of widespread opposition to more centralized powers for the bloc. (AP Photo/Jean Francois Badias)

    EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker delivers his State of the Union address at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016. Juncker, the head of the European Union's executive said that the EU "still does not have enough Union" and that the bloc still needs more united action to move forward in the face of widespread opposition to more centralized powers for the bloc. (AP Photo/Jean Francois Badias)  (The Associated Press)

  • EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker waves to the audience prior to deliver his State of the Union address at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016. Juncker, the head of the European Union's executive said that the EU "still does not have enough Union" and that the bloc still needs more united action to move forward in the face of widespread opposition to more centralized powers for the bloc. (AP Photo/Jean Francois Badias)

    EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker waves to the audience prior to deliver his State of the Union address at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016. Juncker, the head of the European Union's executive said that the EU "still does not have enough Union" and that the bloc still needs more united action to move forward in the face of widespread opposition to more centralized powers for the bloc. (AP Photo/Jean Francois Badias)  (The Associated Press)

The chief of the European Union's executive arm says the bloc's economic and cultural influence isn't enough to safeguard its place in today's uncertain world, and it must do more in the defense field, starting with creation of an EU military headquarters and working toward a common military force.

Jean-Claude Juncker, EU Commission president, said in a major speech Wednesday that the 28-nation organization "should be stronger" militarily. He said the EU's actions should take place in a spirit of solidarity with the U.S.-led NATO defense alliance.

"Together we have to make sure that we protect our interests," Juncker told the European Parliament.

He said greater EU defense cooperation also makes economic sense for the bloc's member states, since it would reduce wasteful duplication of effort by individual nations.