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Germany divided over EU army proposal, 49 percent in favour - poll

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker addresses the European Parliament during a debate in Strasbourg, March 11, 2015. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

BERLIN (Reuters) - Nearly half of Germans surveyed in a new poll welcome a proposal by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker for a joint European Union army, but almost as many object.

In an opinion poll by Forsa for German news magazine Stern published on Wednesday, 49 percent of the more than 1,000 people surveyed said they were in favour of creating a European army while 46 percent were against it.

Juncker has suggested the EU needs its own army to face up to what he sees as threats from Russia and elsewhere and to restore the bloc’s foreign policy clout. He played the idea down on Monday, saying it had not been his intention to provoke a debate. The idea faces particular resistance from Britain.

The EU already has battle groups, manned on a rotational basis, which are meant to be available as a rapid reaction force. But they have never been used in a crisis.

EU leaders have said they want to boost the common security policy by improving rapid response capabilities.

Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Stephen Brown and Ralph Boulton