Saturday

26th May 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”.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • 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.

Opinion

EU budget must not fortify Europe at expense of peace

Given the European Commission new budget's heavy focus on migration, border management and security, many are asking whether the proposal will fortify Europe at the expense of its peace commitments.

Opinion

Europe's budget stasis

The EU's budgetary muddling through might not be enough when the next crisis hits.

News in Brief

  1. Italy set to pick eurosceptic finance minister
  2. UK foreign minister fooled by Russian pranksters
  3. Rajoy ally gets 33 years in jail for corruption
  4. Close race as polls open in Irish abortion referendum
  5. Gazprom accepts EU conditions on gas supplies
  6. Facebook tells MEPs: non-users are not profiled
  7. Commission proposes ending France deficit procedure
  8. UK households hit with Brexit income loss

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman requests more lending transparency from European Investment Bank
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  3. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  4. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  5. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  6. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  8. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  12. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach