BERLIN — The center-left Social Democrats' candidate to succeed German Chancellor Angela Merkel is backing the idea of a European Union army but says the creation of one likely won't happen in the near future.

Olaf Scholz told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper that any EU force would need to be subject to the same parliamentary control as Germany's army, which only can be deployed with approval from national lawmakers.

In interview extracts published Saturday, the newspaper quoted Scholz as saying that an agreement on military missions would need to "take place in European bodies that would certainly include the European Parliament as well."

The idea of a European army has long been under discussion, with some of the bloc's 27 member states in favor and others opposed. Scholz said establishing one was "not a topic for the short-term, though."

Recent opinion polls for Germany's Sept. 26 national election put the Social Democratic Party in third place, behind Merkel's Union grouping and the environmentalist Green party.

Merkel has said she won't run for a fifth term.