Thursday

22nd Nov 2018

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. UK shell firms at heart of Danske Bank scandal: whistleblower
  2. Google pledges transparency on EU political ads
  3. EU urges Hungary to respect law on Macedonia PM 'asylum'
  4. Bannon's EU campaign illegal in nine countries: report
  5. EU court overturns Austria's anti-migrant law
  6. Kosovo punishes Serbia with trade tariffs in Interpol row
  7. Italy happy to 'confront' EU on budget
  8. Spain threatens Brexit deal over Gibraltar

Opinion

EU parliament vote strengthens whistleblower protection

We must not undervalue what a massive step the European Parliament vote represents. The hard work has paid off. We can take a moment to celebrate, but the hard work begins again for finalising strong protection for European whistleblowers.

Opinion

Dodgy regime lobbying is below the EU's radar

In Brussels, PR professionals and lobbying consultants are working for some of the world's most autocratic regimes. And we have no way of knowing for sure who they are, how much they are paid, or what they are up to.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  9. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  10. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  11. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue

Latest News

  1. Revealed: 98% of EU 'expert groups' take place in private
  2. EU commission warns Italy on budget, moves towards fines
  3. Challenges for new Franco-German eurozone plan
  4. EU parliament vote strengthens whistleblower protection
  5. Deutsche Bank dragged into Danish bank scandal
  6. New EU human rights sanctions to focus on Africa
  7. Boycott threats mount on eve of Interpol election
  8. EU parliament to renege on transparency promises

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us