After the Chinese had finally put an end to the GLA insurrection, things came thick and fast for the battered, leaderless and humiliated Europeans: In Paris, a mob of protesters stormed the Elysée Palace and proclaimed the Sixth Republic. In The Hague, the Dutch government stepped down while trusted members of the royal family assumed interim positions. In Berlin, the members of the pro-Union quadruple coalition were arrested by the military after mass protests. Meanwhile, the Chinese Party leadership sensed the opportunity and sided with the revolutionaries in order to secure the future European policy-makers as potential allies. With China's blessing, the provisional rulers systematically stripped the weakened EU government of its power, returning sovereignty to the European nation states while guiding the reconstruction effort in close but mindful cooperation with Beijing under the newly established Eurasian Unity League. The EURA acted as a short-term liaison organisation to coordinate the allocation of nearly one trillion Dollars worth of Chinese low-interest credits that were used jump-start the ruined European economies through extensive infrastructure projects and bolster the many reinstated currencies after the devalued, highly unpopular Euro had been reduced to a mere 'virtual' currency unit used solely for international business accountancy. For the Europeans, the EURA was the saving grace. For the Chinese, it was an expensive but crucial move in order to improve their international image as the world's new leading superpower. Notably, it was China itself which advocated a strict ban on tactical neutron weapons upon one of the last successful initiatives of the United Nations.
Despite the chaos of a total political and economic reorganisation, the peoples of Europe met their hardships with a new feeling of togetherness and an optimistic 'can do' spirit that had not been seen since the end of World War II. A cathartic effect settled in as the rampant consumerism and dog-eat-dog egocentrism that marked the twilight years of the old Union withered in the wake of the insurrection and gave way to the pursuit of a more humble, decelerated way of life where dignity, diligence and solidarity became honoured virtues once again. While numerous former political figures and financial profiteers were publically trialled and punished for treason, long-brewing conflicts between various social groups escalated into sporadic outbursts. The People's Liberation Army was subsequently given the privilege of establishing military bases on European soil and the Chinese Ministry of State Security assumed direct responsibility for the crackdowns in an effort to maintain order and protect the integrity of the national provisional governments whose police and military forces were left relatively uninformed about the proceedings.
In 2034, the former European Union was fully reconstituted into the European Continental Alliance, a cordial but strictly limited military, economic and scientific cooperation between less than twenty countries seeking to rebuild Europe as a secluded community of sovereign partners. The founding treaties - which were regarded as the 'be all, end all' state of affairs rather than the mere first step of another 'evolving project' after the failure of the previous one - included a concise, straightforward civil rights declaration, free trade agreements, student and labour exchange programmes and joint research projects like the ESA and CERN. At the same time, national constitutions were fully restored and democratic elections held, producing legitimate, if sometimes slightly chauvinistic governments that were largely built around principles of national conservatism and social democracy. With its new direction openly declared, the ECA was approached by many break-away regions and provinces which now sought to return to their former countries as the malice and discord sown by the old regime started to fade. It was at this time when European politicians proposed to discontinue the short-term treaties of the EURA and begin the withdrawal of PLA troops, arguing that Europe, now protected by a rigidly enforced border policy and on its way towards maximum self-sustainability, could fend for itself again. Knowing that their military projection power had already been stretched to the breaking point, the Chinese accepted the terms - if somewhat begrudgingly - under the condition that the Europeans would repay their debts, an obligation that was met all the way until the very outbreak of the Russo-European War in 2045.
The many oversized central institutions such as the Council, the Parliament, the Commission and the Court were replaced by a single Round Table of ministers which included all the elected government ministers of finance, defence, environment etc. from the member nations working on subjects of great continental importance that fell within their respective resorts whenever necessary while remaining fully accountable to the parliaments. The Table was headed by a special ECA Prime Minister who acted as a neutral mediator and outside representative in diplomatic matters. Presently as of 2042, the office is held by Norman Fitzgerald from the Republic of Ireland. The second most noteworthy product of the reformation was the European Continental Army, a standing military task force with advanced standardised equipment whose participant units are drawn from the various state militaries based on a regular rotation. Having learned their lesson from the appalling lack of coordination during the insurrection, the ECA, with its own ground, air and naval forces, was designed to provide a rapid and decisive response to any threat. At the outbreak of the Russo-European War, the ECA consisted of roughly 1.200.000 active troops, supported by an additional 2.500.000 soldiers of the various national militaries against an initial contingent of almost four million Russians.
In 2037, the Continental Army saw its first large-scale deployment during Operation Nemesis, a retaliatory invasion of the North African countries that openly supported the insurrection. Ever since the second decade of the 21st century, the region had been the theatre of many revolutions and counter-revolutions which eventually produced a number of vitriolic pro-GLA regimes that were now forcibly removed by the ECA. After years of struggle for the false promises of a few demagogues, the people were utterly disillusioned, longing for peace and stability above everything else. The ECA subsequently established controllable, modern-minded regimes in the large urban centres along the coast, opening the new territories to foreign entrepreneurs and triggering the global rush for Africa's rare earth minerals and remaining fossil fuel deposits. In order to ensure full strategic control of the vital Mediterranean Sea, the Europeans provided the armies of their protégés with surplus weaponry. Whilst being noticeably advanced by the standards of the region, an investigative documentary later revealed these weapons to be equipped with hidden killswitches that could be remotely controlled by the Europeans in the event of a betrayal. At the same time, the ECA also provided their new protectorates with closely monitored funds and investment plans. Despite loud opposition from the more revanchist fringes of the European political landscape who would have favoured a more 'final' solution, reason and humanity prevailed and it was argued that all of these costly expenditures would eventually develop the economic potential of 'European Maghreb' to a point where backwards GLA rhetorics would fall on deaf ears.
Finally, the former Union capital Brussels remained the symbolical centre of the new Alliance, if only for the many decades it would take to unravel the enormous heap of legal red-tape and property that the EU had amassed while the iconic European symbols, including the circle of stars flag and 'Ode to Joy' anthem - now occasionally interchanged with Charpentier's 'Te Deum' due to having absorbed some negative connotations from its inflationary use by the old Union - were maintained in a conscious effort to reclaim them in the spirit of a renewed European friendship.
Despite their small dimensions, these pre-fabricated structures contain the most vital facilities for ECA infantry operations, including well protected (if somewhat cramped) living quarters for several soldiers, a sizeable stock of smallarms and provisions and an infirmary capable of dealing with all the most common injuries. Since the Europeans often set up their bases in close proximity to the cities they are defending, every Barracks is also equipped with a small, permanently occupied recruitment office in which volunteers can enlist to do their part at any time.
While the various national militaries still operate a lot of domestically produced equipment, the Continental Army has decided in favour of the French 'Felin' programme when it came to choosing a standardised infantry doctrine for the joint European task force. As such, infantry formations that partake in ECA operations receive state-of-the-art body armour and communications equipment of French design. With the 1970s FAMAS rifle starting to show its age, a new replacement was found in the form of the HKFN-22, a cooperative design by German and Belgian manufacturers that married the compact space age frame of the cancelled G11 rifle with a powered up version of the armour-piercing 5.7mm cartridge used in the P90 PDW. In a further effort to combat the near-total Russian air supremacy during the war, many Felins were also equipped with shoulder-fired Starstreak MANPADS, a peculiar anti-air missile of British origin that releases three self-guided submunitions upon reaching a certain altitude to ensure a hit.
Ever since the Second World War, tank crews have learned to cringe with fear upon hearing the German word 'Panzerfaust' (literally 'tank fist'). The latest model of this time-tested weapon design went into full mass-production and is currently being issued to the many brave volunteers that want to make a difference. Thanks to the Panzerfaust's amateur-friendly configuration and its powerful shaped charge anti-tank projectiles, chances are indeed high that a large difference will be made against the relentless onslaught of Russian tanks. The low production cost and simplicity of the weapon do come at a price, though: Unlike many other modern anti-tank launchers, the Panzerfaust's projectile is entirely unguided, as it is indeed little more than a rocket propelled grenade. As such, it is not able to home in on a tank and is entirely worthless against airborne threats. However, the lack of guidance systems does allow for a much bigger explosive charge and in addition to that, the weapon is also compatible with a new type of anti-bunker vacuum warhead, capable of crushing and suffocating enemy infantry in cramped garrisons.
In the aftermath of Operation Nemesis, the ECA offered lucrative jobs to civilian contractors who were willing to provide their specialised engineering skills for the reconstruction of North Africa. Over the following years, these men aided in the construction of modern hospitals, schools, roads and irrigation networks, laying the foundation for a new economic perspective in this region ravaged by warfare. The contractors do not carry weapons and are regarded as non-combatants, to be escorted by armed ECA soldiers at all times but it has been reported that many of them try to make themselves useful during combat situations by repairing damaged military vehicles and using their technical skills to rapidly take control of key facilities on the battlefield.
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