Friday

20th Jul 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.

... our 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.

Investigation

Commission accused of cherry picking job applicants

A pilot project scheme is giving preferential treatment for interns to land highly sought-after jobs at the European Commission - bypassing the lengthy open competition for everyone else seeking the same position.

News in Brief

  1. Trump threatens EU over Google fine
  2. Spain withdraws arrest warrant for Catalan separatists
  3. EU readies counter-measures on possible US car tariffs
  4. EU Commission launches probe into Hungary's 'Stop Soros' law
  5. EU warns Turkey on anti-terror bill
  6. Report: EU secretly scorns UK's Brexit paper
  7. Hungary: UN treaty could 'inspire millions' of migrants
  8. Nato reacts after Trump disparages Montenegro

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us