2013 – 038 The EU is taking over UK defence policy by stealth

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

On ‘military capability development’, the EU intends utterly to eclipse NATO Photo: REX

By Bernard Jenkin

5:47PM GMT 07 Dec 2013

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.

However, the potential for to damage UK defence interests is in the detail.   The call for “an EU Cyber Defence Policy Framework”, and for “an EU Maritime   Security Strategy”, both involve the federalist EU Commission. Remember, the   Commission is the EU’s most powerful legislative body, so this is anything   but intergovernmental cooperation. Agreeing to this is to agree to a threat   to the independence of UK policy in these fields. The fact that the Council   will also call for “increased synergies between CSDP and   Freedom/Security/Justice actors” opens the door to legally binding defence   commitments “to tackle horizontal issues such as organized crime, including   trafficking and smuggling of human beings, and terrorism” – another   compelling reason for the UK to exercise its Lisbon Treaty opt-out from EU   home and justice affairs entirely.

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.

07 Dec 2013

The Council “invites the Commission (again), the European Investment Bank and   the European Defence Agency to develop proposals for a pooled acquisition   mechanism”, which can only mean some kind of EU defence purchasing agency.   It may not require much money to develop legal control over member states’    defence procurement programmes. How so? The proposals for “Strengthening   Europe’s defence industry” are to be “in full compliance with EU law”. This   is not inter-governmental. The Commission (again) is invited “to set up a   Preparatory Action on CSDP-related research”. Finally, “The European Defence   Agency, in cooperation with the Commission (yet again), will prepare a   roadmap for the development of defence industrial standards” and “develop a   harmonized European military certification approach”. This is the key means   by which the EU can obtain control over defence. One of the key purposes of   Nato was to ensure transatlantic standards and certification. Here there is   a lack of any reference whatsoever to EU-US cooperation. This is because the   EU wants standards and certification which will exclude US defence equipment   from EU markets where ever possible. That’s what EU defence policy is really   all about.

Bernard Jenkin is Conservative MP for Harwich and North Essex, Chairman of   PASC, the Public Administration Select Committee and a former shadow defence   secretary

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