The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

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Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.
Since October 2016, David has studied the EU’s growing power-grab in defence as a researcher and spokesman for Veterans for Britain, whiche he co-founded.
He has been an active campaigner for the UK’s autonomy and was also co-founder of Scientists for Britain and Imaginexit, a digital promotions platform which was operating during the referendum.
David has worked in science, publishing and political communications including four years in the United Arab Emirates.

He is qualified as a journalist with the National Council for the Training of Journalists and in media communications with the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.

Government must scrap its compromises over EU military schemes

eumilitarystaffVeterans for Britain, supported by the Bruges Group, bring an urgent message to Manchester on Monday 2 October: we need full Brexit for defence and an end to recent UK commitments to the EU that have a nasty sting in the tail.

Since the Brexit vote, the UK has given a green light to the juggernaut of EU military schemes on the understanding we would be outside of them.

However, government position papers incredibly propose STAYING IN joint EU schemes on military finance, research and assets.

The schemes, which have never been voted on by MPs, would mean the UK staying in EU Common Defence Policy, the European Defence Agency and even EU defence procurement directives. Norway is the only non-EU country in the schemes and was obliged to accept these rules.

The PM has rightly declared the UK’s unconditional commitment to Europe’s defence via NATO.

However, we fear that MPs and ministers are not aware of the full implications of a Norway-style military union agreement. Many civil servants are aware of these implications and are pushing for UK entry relentlessly.

At the same time as these new EU military finance and structure schemes are being agreed, the EU is growing the remit of its Common Security and Defence Policy in a way that consolidates its control over EU Council-agreed military responses. The EU’s new military HQ, the MPCC, which UK diplomats tried in vain to change, is just a small part of this.

The EU is also tightening defence asset production rules to make an EU defence market in which member state governments will find it impossible to protect domestic defence jobs and industry eg Scottish shipyards in the UK’s case.

Sadly, the Government’s National Shipbuilding Strategy of September 2017 fully adheres to the latest EU rules in cross-border defence tendering – clearly anticipating a future where the UK would need to comply.

It is essential that at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester delegates are made aware of the risk to Scottish shipyards, particularly Ruth Davidson and her Scottish Conservatives team. The UK is heading towards a scenario where it is dictated by these EU procurement rules which will only become more assertive when the UK is fully committed to them.

‘Dodging the EU bullet’

Speakers: Major-General Julian Thompson, Colonel Richard Kemp, Captain Will Carver & Geoffrey Van Orden MEP

Monday 2nd Oct 11.00 at Manchester Town Hall, Albert Square, Manchester, M60 2LA

For more info on the commitments made by the UK to the EU military juggernaut and the risks posed from the proposal to stay in them, see:

http://veteransforbritain.uk/dexeus-defence-partnership-paper-is-a-grave-mistake-and-gives-the-eu-control/

and

https://www.brugesgroup.com/blog/the-uk-is-stuck-in-a-quagmire-over-eu-defence-union

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Barnier's career of wacky ideas and EU power-grabs

Michel Barnier is quickly becoming a pantomime villain in the UK, with his regular grandstanding and puerile PR stunts. But a lot of British commentators still give him far too much credit - we can only guess they haven't looked into the wreckage of his political career.
michaelbarnier
(Photograph courtesy of Foto-AG Gymnasium Melle)
Barnier's track record, described below, is marked by wacky EU-federalist ideas which have been his undoing on several occasions.
From his less-than-subtle effort to force the EU Constitution onto all of us through to the range of smaller proposals for EU power-grabs, which resulted in criticism, rebukes and a dismissal.
The Brexit talks show that he might never learn from these errors.
Despite having absolutely no elected mandate in his current role, he is stuck in the EU Commission mindset and trying to boss Britain around.
Any eurosceptic would have known that EU intransigence would soon surface in spite of David Davis's efforts to create an amicable and respectful exchange of views.
We highlight eight of his career low points here:


1. As French Minister for Foreign Affairs...
...he helped write the despised EU Constitution, a massive EU power-grab, that was trashed and rejected by French voters in a referendum and later in a Dutch referendum.

 
 
2. Sacked as French foreign minister...
...because his EU Constitution campaign was so roundly trashed in the French referendum. He later complained he was "unfairly singled out" for the referendum defeat, but he still didn't learn his lesson as the next items shows.
 
 
 
3. As French nominee to rewrite the failed EU constitution...
...he was asked to produce a new document to replace the constitution alongside other panellists. An unrepentant Barnier and his colleagues instead produced virtually the same list of power-grabs in the controversial and hated Lisbon Treaty. Co-writer Valéry Giscard d'Estaing confirmed it was "substantially the same as the EU Constitution".
 
 

4. As EU Commissioner for Regions...

...he oversaw the EU regional funding team which proposed a much-criticised funding project of more than EUR 60 million to the Spanish enclave of Melilla including millions spent on a luxury golf course next to a refugee fence and refugee reception centre. Although he oversaw the team which wrote the funding proposal and gave the initial approval, final approval to the criticised scheme was by his successor Jacques Barrot.
 
 
5. As adviser to José Manuel Barroso...
When asked to look into civil emergency response, he was ridiculed for his proposals for an EU Civil Protection Force which turned into an obvious power-grab for the EU Commission. He is credited with invented the phrase 'the cost of non-Europe' and his civil protection paper includes the bizarre phrase: "As the tsunami so tragically bears out, the price of non-Europe in crisis management is too high". He was also a Barroso adviser when Barroso made his famous gaffe, "the EU is our empire".
 
 
 
6. As EU commissioner for the internal market...
He was criticised repeatedly over: Solvency II insurance regulation; EU Commission power-grabs; toothless bank reform proposals; and half-baked banking reform proposals. He was also criticised by the UK Government for his banking reform proposals and the Alternative Investment Fund Managers' Directive which was especially punitive to the UK financial services industry.
Slammed over the Solvency II legislation process
Criticised for toothless proposals
Criticised for half-baked banking reform proposals:
Criticised by UK gov for his first draft of banking reform
Faced Uk gov criticism over AIFMD
 
 
7. As defence adviser to Juncker...
He helped create the concept of the European Defence Fund and the European Defence Action Plan. From 2015 to his appointment as EU Commission Brexit negotiator he helped plan the EU's defence powergrab which was eventually rolled out in a legislative onslaught at the EU Council between November 2016 and June 2017.

8. As co-president of the Albertville Olympic Committee...
...saw the event costs escalate to more than double its intended budget. UK analysts later found the event suffered a cost overrun of a whopping 137%.
 Flyvbjerg, Bent; Stewart, Allison; Budzier, Alexander (2016). The Oxford Olympics Study 2016: Cost and Cost Overrun at the Games. Oxford: Saïd Business School Working Papers (Oxford: University of Oxford). pp. 9–13. SSRN 2804554 Freely accessible.
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Government Agrees to EU Military

Five concerns for the UK arising from the EU Defence Union

14th June 2017
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There are five main areas which the EU has been pursuing in order to establish what it calls an ‘EU Defence Union’ across the 28 EU countries, including the UK.

1. Procurement policy and incentives

2. Finance

3. Intelligence, Battlegroups and PESCO

4. UK defeat over HQ

5. Contradicting statements over UK involvement.

 

Since 23rd June 2016, the UK has made commitments in each of these above areas of defence with no debate in the British Parliament. Each one is described in more detail below:

 

1. Procurement policy and incentives

The UK has agreed to…

  • More power for the EU to enforce EU-wide tendering in defence contracts
  • An expanding remit for the EU over defence industrial strategy and joint-built assets
  • An expanding remit for the EU in purchasing and conduct of joint-owned assets
  • Incentives for UK defence companies to engage long-term with the developing EU-wide industrial strategy

 

The only reason the UK is permitted to build its own aircraft carriers is by using an exemption to the EU Procurement Directive. The exemption is known as the security clause (Article 346) and is permitted when a member state feels there is a national security reason to reserve production for its domestic market. The European Commission is tightening application of the clause following a review in 2016 and has gained the consent of member states to do so.

(EU Council Conclusions, 14 November 2016)

The EDA and EU Commission have a benchmark of achieving 35% pan-EU equipment procurement.

(EDA Benchmarks)

 

UK ministers have approved measures that allow the European Defence Agency to have a greater role in standardisation and certification.

(EU Council conclusions in Security Defence, 18 May 2017)

 

These measures would amplify EU influence in the trading conditions of the defence sector and an additional tool for the enforcement of policy. For example, certification and mutual recognition of standards might be used as a barrier to entry to UK exporters in years ahead in the same way that EU ‘standards’ produce a barrier to non-EU exporters in other sectors. Conversely, certification and standards could be used as an incentive for UK manufacturers and policymakers to adhere to EU policy. Either way, the changes bring a measure of additional control to the European Commission.

 

The EU refers to EU defence industrial strategy as the European Defence Technology and Industrial Base (EDTIB) and has more recently started using the term ‘Single Market for Defence’. With the objective of ‘reducing duplication, the EU intends to integrate this market under coordinated joint projects and an EU-controlled policy environment. The aim is for the resulting combined EU defence industrial strategy to serve the needs of the EU’s ‘new level of ambition’ in a military context.

 

This above agreement on standardisation and certification is an additional method of directing the integration of the EDTIB beyond the two already mentioned previously: 1. enforcement of the pan-EU Procurement Directive and 2. financial incentives via the European Defence Fund.

 

The EU Commission could conceivably tell the UK after Brexit that ‘access’ to its newly coordinated ‘Single Market for Defence’ requires adherence to the Procurement Directive. Also, now that UK participation in the European Defence Fund’s imminent incentive programmes is being concluded, UK ‘withdrawal’ could be viewed by the EU as an act that warrants retaliation or requires UK concessions.

 

2. Finance

The UK has agreed to…

  • The creation of the EU's first central military budget, the European Defence Fund
  • The use of European Investment Bank money (16% UK shareholding) for the European Defence Fund
  • The creation of a Cooperative Financial Mechanism (CFM) to augment the European Defence Agency
  • The creation of a Coordinated Annual Review of Defence (CARD), a mechanism which sees the EU offer financial incentives for adherence to EU planning over member state defence budgets.

 

The European Defence Fund will begin with a budget of only a few billion euros, but this money will be dangled in front of policy makers and defence companies to steer them towards joint activity and a policy environment that is under EU authority.

 

Millions of euros have already been placed into an "unprecedented level of engagement" with defence companies including defence industry conferences in the UK financed by the EU Commission, which started in April (Southampton) and are continuing throughout 2017 (Bournemouth etc).

 

UK companies are being invited to bid for the first tranche of European Defence Fund money in June 2017, via an EU Commission / EDA programme known as PADR (Preparatory Action for Defence Research). The programme is even being promoted by the UK Defence Solutions Centre, a UK-Government-funded unit which was formed to boost output of UK defence companies.

 

According to the EU Commission and EEAS, the Cooperative Financial Mechanism “will strengthen the European Defence Agency” as a central EU defence capabilities tool. The mechanism appears to be separate to the European Defence Fund. It is designed to manage member states’ money in a joint budget and will be spent on EDA research projects, military units conjoined under Permanent Structured Cooperation and joint assets.

 

This added financial firepower for the EDA overrides many years of policy by UK ministers who argued that the EDA’s scope and budget should be restricted.

(European Defence Agency ministerial steering board, 18th May 2017)

 

The UK Government has a 16% (EUR 39 billion) stake in the EIB, the same as Italy, France and Germany (the four largest shareholders). The EU Commission is changing the lending criteria of the EIB to ensure it supports the European Defence Fund. The EIB is an instrument of the EU and operates in adherence to EU policy. There has been no confirmation of whether the UK will withdraw from the EIB, but to remain a shareholder would mean a level of participation in EU policy. The EIB has placed funds into infrastructure projects in the UK including Crossrail and the Manchester Metrolink.

 

The UK’s consent to EIB funding for UK defence industries provides the EU with additional locks on UK participation in EU defence policy and on its EIB shareholding. These additional locks were made after the UK’s referendum on EU membership and add to the task of unravelling these links after Brexit.

 

3. Intelligence, Battlegroups and PESCO

The UK has agreed to…

  • An increased size, scope and infrastructure of the EU’s military intelligence agency as a central ‘hub’.
  • Participation in a 2019 EU Battlegroup under EU Council control. Approval given pre-referendum. No confirmation from MOD about whether it is cancelled or continuing.
  • Drop objections to Permanent Structured Cooperation (first version of permanent military unification) by willing member states. MOD will not confirm whether the UK is staying out or not.

 

The European External Action Service (the EU’s ‘foreign ministry’) has put forward plans to grow the role of its intelligence agency known as the Single Intelligence Analysis Capacity (SIAC). (EU Council conclusions in Security Defence, 6 March 2017 and 18 May 2017).

 

SIAC is composed of the EU Military Staff Intelligence Directorate and the 'civilian' EU INTCEN. The EU Council agreed to develop them as an EU "hub for strategic information, early warning and comprehensive analysis".

Member States, including the UK, have been asked to consider initiatives and ways to interact with these plans. (Security and Defence Implementation Plan, 14 November 2016).

 

The UK was scheduled to lead an EU Battlegroup in Jan-Jun 2019. The MOD will not state whether Britain’s participation will be cancelled or proceed.

 

4. UK defeat over the HQ

The UK has agreed to...

  • The reordering of EU agencies to include ‘permanent planning’ of EU defence missions and a ‘coordinated military command chain’.
  • The creation of a permanent military HQ with staff responsible for strategy and operations. It was kept as a non-executive function of the EU, but executive power over EU military developments rests with the EU Council and EU Commission.
  • Drop its objections to the wordings that describe the new HQ (May 2017) because previous approval in March 2017 had made later objections invalid.

 

The EU Council, with UK consent, has agreed to reorder the European External Action Service to "develop the necessary structures and capabilities for the permanent planning and conduct of CSDP missions and operations" with "distinct but coordinated civilian and military chains of command".

 

These will work under the political control, strategy and leadership of the EU Council's Political and Security Committee.

(EU Council Conclusions, 14 November 2016, with UK ministerial approval. Confirmed by EU Council heads of government conclusions, 15 December 2016)

 

The plans include the creation of an operational HQ, the Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC). While the UK made an issue of the MPCC being prevented from having executive powers, this was a pointless fight as the executive power over the MPCC’s deployments already resides with the EU Council.

(EU Council Conclusions, 6 March 2017. Confirmed by EU Council conclusions, 18 May 2017)

 

5. Contradicting statements over UK involvement.

The UK has agreed to...

  • Participate in measures that apply to UK defence without the approval of Parliament, nor even a debate.
  • Participate in developing plans until at least March 2019, possibly March 2022 or even longer.
  • Provide the EU with several new powers over UK defence and a new bargaining chip for the EU.
  • Accept measures that mean a more complicated and time-consuming withdrawal process that the UK didn’t face before the first of the EU Defence Union agreements in November 2016.
  • Provisional statements on PESCO (Permanent Structured Cooperation) while keeping open the prospect of UK participation in PESCO and the EU Council-controlled EU Battlegroups in 2019.

 

Each time new agreements are made, additional hours will need to be spent on severing EU ties and controls. New agreements are currently being formed in finance, intelligence, regulation, procurement strategy, joint assets, joint missions and research. This will impact upon several departments of government.

 

The duration of UK involvement might be expected to be until March 2019 (the anticipated end of Britain’s membership) and possibly March 2022 (end of a three-year transition deal which requires adherence to EU policy) and potentially even longer. Until then, even adhering to new EU measures (in finance, intelligence, regulation, procurement strategy, joint assets, joint missions and research) will add complexity to the UK’s exit negotiations, potentially extending the duration of the exit process.

 

Not a single one of these agreements at the EU Council has ever been mentioned in the House of Commons, let alone subject to a vote by MPs. All defence agreements at the EU Council take the UK further down the road of military integration and have had an immediate effect regarding UK participation. The EU Commission immediately embarked on a dialogue with UK defence companies about incentives to participate in EU defence integration projects.

 

EU Council conclusions are considered by the EU commission to have been co-authored by UK diplomats. Therefore, if a minister does not raise objection during an EU Council meeting, conclusions are considered to represent a joint direction, or consent, of all member states.

 

The EU Commission has stated that agreements the UK enters as a member state “must be carried out in full” while the UK remains subject to the EU’s treaties.

 

In addition, the EU has said it is not willing to even begin to discuss UK withdrawal from EU defence arrangements until a withdrawal agreement has been settled and “all other matters” agreed, because defence is “too important to be a part of the main negotiations”. This means the UK will be obliged to adhere to these rapidly developing measures for at least two years to 2019 and there is a real possibility of the UK being tied in for an additional transition period of three years up to 2022.

 

The Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan wrote to the European Scrutiny Committee chairman in December 2016 to inform the committee of the plans and agreements the UK was entering, as is required under UK Parliamentary protocols. Sir Alan Duncan told the committee there were parts of the Security and Defence Implementation Plan (SDIP) which his team 'liked' and no decision had yet been made over the quantum of UK involvement and for how long. This may be contrasted with the Foreign Secretary's October and November statements that the UK did not wish to prevent the EU27 from participating in agreements in which the UK had no interest itself in participating.

 

The European Scrutiny Committee marked Sir Alan Duncan's letter and corresponding agreements as 'politically important' to have them discussed in the relevant Parliamentary Select Committees of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Exiting the EU.

 

Meanwhile, the EU Commission will know it may now employ all of the UK’s recent set of agreements in defence as a bargaining chip, a threat, a delaying tactic and a deepening ‘binding agent’ to EU membership. It is conceivable that EU officials will cite the example of UK defence companies who have the promise of European Defence Fund money as a means of influencing or undermining perceptions among UK observers or negotiators in the realm of defence.

 

Finally, an answer we received from the MOD (19 May 2016) said that the British government had not ruled out joining PESCO in spite of its control by EU Council and CSDP:

“Decisions on UK engagement with CSDP after we leave the EU, including with initiatives such as PESCO, will be part of the wider negotiations.”

 

A UK Rep spokesperson had earlier (18 May 2016) told us the UK might participate in the EU Battlegroups after Brexit, which is also controlled by the EU and CSDP.

By David Banks, Veterans for Britain

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The UK is stuck in a quagmire over EU Defence Union

EU Defence Union has gathered pace since late 2016 and the UK is deeply involved. Ministers have so far failed to explain why they are agreeing to the plans and how they will regain control.

15th February 2017
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A senior EU Commission official boasted in January that the EU "has done more in defence in the last seven months than in the previous decades".

 

It certainly looks like they have stepped up the pace since the Brexit vote.

 

Two major plans outlining military union were released in November and approved by EU Governments in December, including the UK under advice from Sir Ivan Rogers, who was until January the top UK diplomat in Brussels who was so admired by pro-EU politicians.

 

Anyone who thinks these plans won't affect the UK could be in for a nasty surprise.

 

The plans create a central EU defence budget for the first time, make a grab for defence industries and procurement strategy, they plan for the acquisition of EU assets in space and surveillance, they invite EU member states to conjoin their defence forces permanently under an EU banner, they place obligations on member states’ intelligence services and they assert the "defence autonomy of the EU from NATO".

 

The EU uses typical guile, complexity and sheer volume of words so it's no wonder the media have barely picked up on them - as a journalist, where would you even start? Then there's the complexity of how the EU is turning the plans to reality, which is advancing daily and involves the EU Parliament, think tanks, defence industry and the EU’s deep reach into member states’ defence structures.

 

Veterans for Britain first spotted what was happening when on 15 November 2016 Federica Mogherini presented the first of the plans, known as the Security and Defence Implementation Plan, to a combined EU Council meeting of foreign ministers and defence ministers. The UK, represented by Sir Michael Fallon and Boris Johnson, approved this plan to “avoid playing dog in a manger”, i.e. avoid preventing other countries from participating when the UK had no desire to do so.

 

There are a few immediate problems with this stance.

 

Firstly, agreement places obligations on signatories to be involved – even if the UK has no desire to be involved it will be involved at least for the duration of its remaining membership.

 

Secondly, when we unpick what was said by ministers in the days after the EU Council agreement, we find that Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan had written to MPs saying that the UK had signed not because it didn’t want to be involved, but because it might want to be involved – a clear contradiction to what Boris had said on the day of the agreement.

 

Thirdly, the agreement has certain repercussions for the UK beyond Brexit in 2019, most notably UK defence industries and control of defence procurement, while other post-Brexit implications in intelligence, military structure, funding and assets are only ‘likely’ to affect the UK, but depend on the UK Government’s desire in 2019 to claw back the control it has just given away.

 

Fourthly, the EU is not considering special exemptions or caveats for the UK. All the talk of a combined EU defence output includes figures which could only include the UK, such as a 100-billion-euro defence industry.

 

When Mogherini’s SDIP was approved by the UK, the defence correspondents of national newspapers had all been conveniently flown to Iraq for a week by Sir Michael Fallon’s MOD, to be embedded with UK forces. Any defence journalists who were still in the country on 15 November might have been forgiven for thinking that SDIP hadn’t been approved by the UK at all. At Veterans for Britain, we weren’t sure so we phoned the EU Council’s staff to find out. They told us that Sir Michael Fallon and Boris Johnson had indeed subscribed to the plan because they had offered no objection to the joint conclusions that the UK representative Sir Ivan Rogers had co-authored with his counterparts. In EU Council contexts, joint conclusions by member states in support of a document constitute agreement.

 

It’s useful to look at some of the details of Ms Mogherini’s SDIP. It calls for EU member states to enter ‘Permanent Structured Cooperation’ in defence (PESCO), an idea which has been lurking in the Lisbon Treaty and is described by its EU federalist architects as “the foundation for an integrated EU Armed Forces”. SDIP also calls on member states’ to propose new ways their intelligence services might correspond with a new central EU intelligence agency known as the Single Intelligence Analysis Capacity (SIAC), and proposes a new focus on the EU’s military intelligence body known as INTCEN.

 

Two weeks after SDIP was announced and approved, the EU Commission released a report, titled the European Defence Action Plan (EDAP), which includes an explanation for how EU officials propose to fund Ms Mogherini’s plans.

 

An EU Defence Fund will divert cash towards joint EU military units and EU defence research. It will be funded by the European Investment Bank, in which the UK is joint top shareholder. The EU Commission will also invite member states to contribute, with the promise that any such payments will not be governed by EU-imposed austerity rules. Apparently a great way for poorer EU nations to divert cash from their own militaries and still meet the NATO 2% requirement.

 

By the way, we know these EU plans sound outlandish to anyone who’s not heard about them before, which is why we at Veterans for Britain always take copies of the EU’s plans into meetings so that politicians and journalists know that we’re not making it up.

 

Mr Juncker’s EDAP describes EU’s push “towards Defence Union” and the creation of a single market for military equipment, which sounds fine until you realise it comes with the imposition of centrally-coordinated defence industry strategy and points to the removal of the member states’ current right to build their own ships and safeguard domestic defence supply.

 

Even more worrying is that Juncker’s EU Defence Fund (starting at five billion euros) will be in a position to offer free money to UK companies who want to participate in EU-led procurement projects, therefore putting a financial incentive on UK defence industries to demand involvement in the EU-controlled ‘defence single market’.

 

Mogherini’s SDIP and Juncker’s EDAP appeared on the agenda of the 12 December EU Council heads of government meeting, as point number 2 under the more generalised topic of ‘Security’.

 

The 28 heads of government including PM Theresa May were asked if they agreed with the previous agreement made by their foreign and defence ministers and Mr Juncker’s EDAP. They all did agree. Once again, there were no complaints, exemptions or caveats for the UK.

 

The UK's approval means it has signed up to at least two years of military integration with the EU and faces an ever bigger task after exit to unravel itself from the EU military equipment market or prevent UK intelligence services’ relationship with the Five Eyes network being compromised by demands to provide information to the EU’s SIAC intelligence service. There has so far been no statement from defence ministers to explain how the UK will extricate itself from EU decision making in two years’ time or whether it will resist potentially far-reaching changes in military structure, procurement, intelligence and funding between 2017 and 2019.

 

These plans had been preceded by three statements which created the mood music around defence union: the Merkel-Hollande-Renzi joint statement on the deck of an Italian aircraft carrier; a Mogherini statement in July on the forthcoming EU Global Strategy; and Juncker’s State of the Union address which alluded to a desire to expand the EU’s role in defence.

 

The EU Commission’s activity since SDIP and EDAP reflect their intention for an "unprecedented level of engagement". In January, they appointed administrative teams to implement every strand of the two plans and liaise with military and defence industry counterparts.

 

Ms Mogherini, who simultaneously acts as Vice President of the EU Commission, head of the European Defence Agency and head of the European External Action Service (the EU’s ‘foreign ministry’) is expected to announce the first EU member states participating Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) on 25 March, the 60th anniversary of the 1957 Treaty of Rome which created the European Community.

 

At the end of January, the EU Parliament carried out a flanking operation in support of PESCO in which MEPs called on their national parliaments to be involved. In the same breath they went several steps further, calling for the ‘technically-intergovernmental’ European Defence Agency and the forthcoming PESCO to be annexed under the EU Commission’s remit. They also called for the EU Battlegroups to be considered part of PESCO, which will be worrying for the UK as British forces have participated four times as a lead nation on a rolling deployment since 2005.

 

What is happening in the UK following SDIP and EDAP? The EU has named two ‘hubs’ in the UK as part of the EU Network of Defence-Related Regions (ENDR) and one of them ‘Marine South East’ will specialise in ‘dual use’ robotics and maritime technology. Marine South East has been paid by the EU Commission to host an event in April featuring EU Commission, MOD and defence industry staff to explore what ‘More Europe in Defence’ will look like.

 

At the same time, pro-EU groups in the UK such as the Centre for European Reform and the (EU Commission-funded) Royal United Services Institute are going into overdrive either promoting the case for Defence Union or running down the UK’s prospects in defence autonomy.

 

Meanwhile, MPs will eventually hear a snapshot of what is contained in the EU’s military union plans when they are discussed by the Foreign Affairs Committee, Defence Select Committee and Exiting the EU Committee in the weeks ahead. They will have this opportunity because Sir Alan Duncan’s aforementioned note was escalated and marked as ‘politically important’ by Sir Bill Cash’s European Scrutiny Committee.

By David Banks, Veterans for Britain

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