Ursula von der Leyen claimed a legal framework now exists for a European Defence Union.
The German Defence Minister also discussed developing a structure that tells Europeans when to use their “forces”.
Speaking on Uncut with Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Ms von der Leyen declared: “The structures that have been ‘sleeping’ for a long time inside the Treaty of Lisbon – now we have activated them.
“That means we now have a legal framework for a European Defence Union, we have a joint planning process, so that as Europeans we can also develop a structure that tells us when we are going to use our forces.”
The German politician also spoke about building a “security structure”.
She said: “We must become more European.
“I see many areas where NATO is not in demand, for example, the whole Africa topic.
“Here the European Union is very much in demand. Because NATO has been existing for decades, we haven’t built a security structure for a European Defence Union worthy of the name.
“In the last one and a half years we have tackled this and we have taken a big step forward.”
The Permanent Structured Co-operatio (PESCO) – a European army in all but name – received the official blessing of heads of state and government who joined to toast its success in December.
There are also plans for enhanced joint training programmes, a European medical command and projects relating to logistics such as the streamlining of cross-border military transport procedures.
Key EU member states, including France and Germany, have long-campaigned for greater defence and security integration.
In August French President Emmanuel Macron called for an “almost automatic” defence solidarity between European member states, amid growing concerns over the United States’ wavering commitment to international security.
The French centrist said during a press conference with his Finnish counterpart: “Our aim is clearly for Europe to achieve strategic autonomy and reinforce defence solidarity.”
Mr Macron said that in order to achieve this objective, cooperation between EU countries had to be “reinforced almost automatically,” adding that “for member states who agreed with the reform, we could have a real solidarity of intervention if one state came under attack”.
He added that the bloc would have to make minor changes to the Lisbon Treaty – namely article 42.7, a rarely used mutual defence clause – for the new alliance to take shape.