Over at European Goestrategy, James Rogers illustrates his paper on EU member states’ overseas military installations (.pdf) with a video that graphically drives his point home:
In other words, should the EU collectively decide to pursue a “hard power” component to its global power status, it already has the real estate necessary for such a project at its disposal.
The principle problem for now is that such a collective decision is far from certain. as the video reveals in spite of its obvious good intentions. The “Star Wars” intro, for instance, seems to not-so-subtly announce that this is a possibility that lies sometime in the distant future, while the music that accompanies it is hardly the stuff of global military superpower ambitions, to put it mildly.
The secondary problem is that to actually operationalize such a posture once it’s been adopted, European militaries would need major modernization programs in order to render them deployable in the necessary scale, at a time when austerity is the watchword for even the most ambitious of Europe’s defense budgets (Britain and France).
Still, the importance of the real estate can’t be underestimated, because without it, the possibility for an EU forward presence wouldn’t realistically exist.