The chaotic withdrawal of Western forces from Afghanistan has shown that the European Union needs to intervene militarily in a crisis without relying on U.S. troops, senior EU officials say.

Two decades after EU leaders first agreed to set up a 50,000-60,000-strong force but failed to make it operational, EU states are once again aiming to create a 5,000-strong "first entry force." They want a deal on its design by March 2022.

But as EU defense ministers gather in the Slovenian capital on Wednesday, the political impetus felt in Brussels, Paris and Berlin will again evaporate unless the bloc can agree on a quick decision-making mechanism to deploy troops.