Thursday

18th Jul 2019

UK to veto EU 'defence union'

  • The EU's Atalanta operation is commanded out of the UK, instead of an EU military HQ (Photo: Council of European Union)

British defence minister Michael Fallon has said the UK would veto the creation of EU military capabilities so long as it remained a member of the bloc.

Reacting to ideas on closer EU defence cooperation, discussed at the Bratislava summit on Friday (16 September), he told The Times, a British newspaper: “That is not going to happen”.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Fallon at EU defence ministers meeting (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

“We are full members of the EU and we will go on resisting any attempt to set up a rival to Nato”.

He said Britain had always “been concerned about unnecessarily duplicating what we already have in Nato”.

He added that: “We will go on being committed to the security of the European continent … We are not going to back out of our commitment to keeping Europe secure, but we don’t want to see unnecessary bureaucracy at the EU level when we have got it in Nato”.

The remaining 27 EU leaders met in the Slovak capital without the UK in the first such format since the Brexit referendum in June.

Proposals for what Germany has called an EU “defence union” and others have called an "EU army" included the creation of an EU military HQ, with medical aid and logistics capabilities, that would command EU crisis missions.

The operations, such as the naval anti-pirate mission, Atalanta, in the Gulf of Aden, are currently commanded by individual member states.

The proposals, endorsed by France and Germany and by the European Commission, also included joint EU defence budgets, shared military satellite surveillance, and joint procurement of high-tech equipment, such as drones.

UK exit negotiations are expected to start in early 2017 and to last at least two years, with the UK retaining its full rights in the EU Council during that period.

The talks are likely to centre on EU migrants and Britain’s access to the single market, but risk being bedevilled by side issues.

For his part, Andrew Duff, an expert at the European Policy Centre, a think tank in Brussels, and a former British MEP for the Liberal party, said the UK overestimated its unilateral military power.

“One understands more and more why Britain was just no good at being in the EU: It can't defend itself yet will block plans for European army”, he said on Twitter.

Steven Blockmans, a Belgian scholar of EU affairs at the Centre for European Policy Studies, another Brussels think tank, said the UK would "hamper [its] own exit deal by vetoing" EU defence plans.

EU joint defence to focus on south

France and Germany propose leap forward on EU defence, but ideas are far from being an "EU army", and target African crises instead of Russia.

UK to start Brexit talks early 2017, Johnson says

UK's foreign minister says Britain will launch official exit talks with the EU early next year, and argues that there is no link between free movement and the single market. PM May was not amused.

Italy lays out 'vision' of EU army

Italy has laid out plans for the creation of a “European force” that goes beyond Franco-German proposals on defence integration.

News in Brief

  1. Nata chief warns world against more Russian missiles
  2. Germany closes Amazon probe as EU opens another
  3. Report: US chipmaker Qualcomm set for new EU fine
  4. Ireland fears Brexit time zone split
  5. Selmayr to leave EU commission post
  6. EU 'appeasement' of Iran like that of Nazis, Israel says
  7. Report: EU anti-trust chief to go after Amazon
  8. Report: France to back Kovesi for EU prosecutor

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Magazine

Explained: What is the European Parliament?

While domestic political parties often use the European Parliament as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians - and a majority of citizens don't bother to vote - the parliament, over the years, has become a dominant force in the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Timmermans trolls Brexit 'idiot' negotiators
  2. Rudderless Europe: Will real Germany please stand up?
  3. PiS & Fidesz claim credit for von der Leyen victory
  4. Von der Leyen faces gender battle for commission posts
  5. EU proposes yearly rule of law 'reports'
  6. Poland 'optimistic' despite new EU law checks
  7. What did we learn from the von der Leyen vote?
  8. Is Golden Dawn's MEP head of a criminal organisation?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us