The potential Social Democratic Party candidate said increasing Germany’s military spending to two per cent of GDP, recommended by the defensive alliance, would create “substantial financial burden for Germany”.
Mr Schulz, a staunch supporter of the EU, has raised suspicions the bloc could be once again trying to form its own army and defence network between member states.
Brussels already spearheads a controversial 1000-strong Euro Corps, a brigade of troops manned by 10 EU member states and Turkey.
While in the EU, Britain used its influence to block its expansion, however, Brexit was met with the immediate publication of plans to build a new military headquarters, as EU leaders scrambled to reinforce the bloc’s identity.
Martin Schulz raised fears he will pursue an EU army after refusing to commit to Nato spending
Schulz is showing the nativity which clouds all geopolitics in the European Parliament
Separately, Germany’s defence White Paper revealed its own ambitions to lead a pan-European force.
Mr Schulz said: “Of course, we are a strong and reliable Nato member. However, I’m not of the opinion that Nato member states have agreed to achieve this goal of spending two per cent of their GDP for defence.
“This would mean a substantial financial burden for Germany. If I interpret this correctly, what was said is that this goal is something to strive for. €20billion or more in additional defence expenditures would certainty not be a goal more government would pursue.
“It doesn’t seem to me to be the highest priority of German foreign policy to spend 20 billion or even more every year in order to achieve this goal and in the end to have a policy where, in the middle of Europe, there is an army to the teeth.
“What we need is not an upward spiral in armaments but rather disarmament activities.”
Get Quotes on Home Insurance
His comments sparked criticism from Ukip defence spokesman Bill Etheridge, who claimed the German is wrong to ignore Nato in favour of a separate EU-led force.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, he said: “Schulz is showing the nativity which clouds all geopolitics in the European Parliament.
“Germany has made a commitment to Nato, but Martin may have been at a committee amending windscreen wipers for tractor parts when that was happening.
NATO training exercises
Wed, June 8, 2016
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty
1 of 26
Polish troops land with parachutes at the military compound near Torun, central Poland as part of the NATO Anaconda-16 military exercise
“Maintaining a well-funded military is expensive and European countries, including the UK, have been lazy and relied on the USA.
“Only the G7 which includes Germany was overstepping its role and telling Russia – a very well defended country – who it can and cannot be allied with.
“Quite how they think they can have their own EU army when they can’t keep up with America helping them out is farcical.”
Express.co.uk has contacted representatives for Martin Schulz for comment.