Sunday

13th Oct 2019

UK snubs Ashton over EU military headquarters

  • Ashton says the new 'situation room' cost the EU no extra money (Photo: Council of European Union)

British foreign minister William Hague on Monday (18 July) said his country would "never" agree to the idea of a single EU military headquarters to replace the command centres scattered around five member states.

"I have made very clear that the United Kingdom will not agree to a permanent operational HQ. We will not agree to it now and we will not agree to it in the future. That is a red line," Hague told reporters after a meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels.

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

He argued that a permanent headquarters would duplicate Nato structures and would be a "waste of money".

Speaking at a parallel press conference, Ashton said that the British rebuke "did not come as a surprise to me".

"This is the same position as the previous British government," she explained, in reference to the Labour cabinet which put her forward to become EU's first foreign affairs and security policy chief.

Initially a French pet project, the idea of establishing a single operational headquarters was written into the Ashton report as part of "different options" being explored by "most member states" on how to make the bloc's common and foreign security policy more effective.

"The argument goes like this: each time you produce a headquarters in a different country and finish the mission, maybe you lose the expertise of that project," she said.

But her report also refers to the "alternative view" pushed forward by the British, saying that member state assets have to be used effectively and having an operational headquarters like the one in Northwood for the EU naval anti-piracy mission "should not be changed".

Ashton argued it was important to "put all options on the table, even if we knew that member states are going to reject them."

Asked if she will now bin the plan of having a single command structure, Ashton said: "We continue to explore what we might be able to do, but I am conscious you can't do much when unanimity of member states is required."

She pointed however to the opening of the EU external action service's own situation room on Monday, as a good example of "pooling resources and offering 24/7 monitoring" to enable the bloc with a quicker response to crises around the world. "And all this at no extra costs for the EU budget."

Commenting on the "excellent" proposal, French minister Alain Juppe said it was a pity the British government did not show more flexibility.

"A very large majority was in favour of the proposal of an EU military headquarters, pushed by the "Weimar countries," he said, in reference to Poland, France and Germany.

The single headquarters system would replace the current command structure which sees the EU military missions run out of national centres in Britain, France, Germany, Greece and Italy.

Letter

Unsubstantiated tittle-tattle from anonymous 'sources'

Your article "Staff leaving EU diplomatic service amid bad working conditions" is riddled with inaccuracies and appears to be based entirely on unsubstantiated tittle-tattle from anonymous 'sources'.

Commission takes Poland to court on eve of election

As Poland's combative Law and Justice party faces elections this Sunday, the commission once again sends a case on its domestic judiciary reforms to the European Court of Justice for breaking EU rules.

Hungary faces EU court for starving migrants

The European Commission is one step away from taking Hungary to court if it does not offer a credible explanation for why it denied detained migrants food in its transit zones along the Serbian border.

News in Brief

  1. Italy: EU cannot accept Turkish 'blackmail'
  2. Is a Brexit deal still possible?
  3. EU and UK to 'intensify' Brexit talks
  4. Norway hit by train strike over EU regulations
  5. Macron says he warned von der Leyen on Goulard
  6. France: EU will retaliate in aviation state aid battle
  7. EU considers new rules and agency against dirty money
  8. France against accession talks for North Macedonia, Albania

Column

Habsburg lessons for Europe's foreign policy

The EU is facing similar challenges. Like the Habsburgs, it must work out ways to navigate an increasingly messy geo-political map and stand firm without the advantage of military predominance.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  2. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  3. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  4. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  6. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  10. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  12. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us