The EU is taking over defence policy by stealth

The European Common Security and Defence Policy is an attempt to protect Continental industrial interests from US competition

The UK government likes to pretend that EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) is harmless inter-government cooperation, which has no access to money, or legal sanctions, and is therefore a federalist paper tiger. These draft European Council Conclusions give the lie to that. Any Conservative prime minister should be wholly opposed to what these Conclusions so clearly intend. To sign the UK up to this programme is not just another step towards a Euro-Army, which has always been a dream of the federalist nations like Germany, but another blow to the UK’s already beleaguered defence industries, and another nail in the coffin of Nato, in order that Continental defence industries should not be exposed to US competition.

Much of these draft Council Conclusions appears to be just verbiage – the usual high-flown rhetoric about the EU being a “global player” in defence, and about the “strong commitment for the further development of a credible and effective Common Security and Defence Policy”. The understatement that “defence budgets in Europe are constrained” is a feeble attempt to mask the reality that member states, including the UK, are all cutting their defence budgets. The oft repeated plea to “make use of synergies” to improve capabilities has so far proved a forlorn hope, and the invocation of “increasing the effectiveness, visibility and impact of CSDP” is bound to fail. It is almost entirely down to France and the UK that “EU defence” means anything at all – and we work increasingly bilaterally, or they are a Nato operation under an EU flag. Nato remains far more significant, because it has US backing and SHAPE (Supreme Allied Headquarters Europe) where people are practised at planning and generating force for multinational operations. But Nato only gets its first mention as a “partner” in Paragraph 6, alongside the UN, OSCE and the African Union, as though they were equivalent. There is mention of “strategic partners and partner countries”, but it is telling that the EU cannot bring itself to name the USA, the military entity which dominates the world and which is the sole guarantor of European security. This underlines the squeamishness, futility, parochialism and vanity of CSDP.

Finally, on “military capability development”, the EU intends utterly to eclipse Nato, backed by the two legally binding 2009 Defence Procurement Directives, which enhance the power of the European Defence Agency (EDA). This is becoming an embryo EU defence ministry. EDA’s statute enables decisions to be taken by majority voting, and where any single state can threaten a veto, a subset of member states can act unilaterally as a bloc in the name of the whole of the EU (so called “structure cooperation”).

However, EU Defence is not so much about defence, as protectionism of Continental defence industrial interests, whose technology rather lags behind their US counterparts. The Council proposes support for programmes on “Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems” (a squeamish name for “drones” or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s) to you and me), Air-to-Air refuelling, “Satellite Communication”, and Cyber. In at least two of these areas, air-to-air refuelling and cyber (ie. GCHQ in Cheltenham), the UK is already supreme in the EU, so why should we agree to the EU directing our policy? These are all capabilities where US interoperability is essential for the UK, but there is nothing about cooperation with our closest ally, because EU defence is about excluding the US wherever possible.

Full article: The EU is taking over defence policy by stealth (The Telegraph)

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