The French are floating the idea of a pan EU naval force to patrol the South China Sea in response to China’s creation of artificial islands and use of the Spratley islands to extend its influence and military presence beyond its narrower domestic waters.
The Chinese action is contested by other regional powers and by the USA. It is difficult to see why the EU needs to get involved militarily in this matter when the USA and regional powers are trying to sort this out and have made clear they intend to stand up for free access to these waters by all wishing to trade or go about their legitimate business.
It is apparent from this intervention and from hostile rhetoric and foreign policy stances that are a daily part of EU life that many in positions of power do wish to see a tougher EU on the world stage seeking influence like the USA and gradually adding military power to back up its attitudes. Far from helping the peace or promoting stability, this seems to me to be a further force for instability.
The main EU nations are also members of NATO. Nato is a known force in the world, led by US military might. Surely it is the best way of allowing European countries who wish to do so to work alongside the USA and make common cause about any international problem or challenge any country who invades or disrupts another, as we did with the liberation of Kuwait.
The danger of the EU’s increasingly noisy interventions is that they are not backed by sufficient force to make them credible, but they can be diplomatically disruptive, as we saw with the EU/Ukraine Association Agreement. Pushing for military and security co-operation with Ukraine as part of that agreement was treated as a provocation or an excuse by Russia to seize the Crimea which the EU was impotent to prevent.
My advice to the EU is keep out of the China Seas militarily. If the USA and the regional powers there need help from EU countries with navies, NATO would be the obvious body to add European naval capability to the region under a combined command with the USA.