THE UK GOVERNMENT HAS BOUND THE UK, DESPITE BREXIT
By David Banks of Veterans For Britain
19 July 2017
1. It threatens UK autonomy in defence procurement decisions
How? UK companies are tied into defence procurement deals which require adherence to EU defence policy and European Defence Agency (EDA) membership. When the UK leaves these, it regains defence autonomy. But the companies will be hostages to EU policy and political pressure from Brussels.
2. It gives the EU new leverage in the Brexit talks
How? The agreements are an additional set of UK commitments. These will be harder to unravel post-2019. They cover defence command structure, intelligence, defence finance and defence procurement.
Once signed up, the UK loses its ability to negotiate a deal that best suits an independent country.
Worse, as a key military power the EU wants our support, but we will have handed it over without gains in other Brexit areas in return.
3. It commits the UK to legal merger of defence capabilities for at least two years
How? It means refusing to even begin discussing UK disengagement from recent defence agreements until after March 2019.
Exit talks first, future relationship second. That could take months or years and will keep the UK tied in for the duration of a transition deal, during which the UK will still be a member of the European Defence Agency and applying Common Defence Policy.
4. It hinders our exit from the European Investment Bank, the EU state bank, created to “further EU policy goals”
The new EU policy means linking UK membership of the European Investment Bank (EIB) to defence, making it more difficult to leave the European Investment Bank, which is an organisation closely association with supporting EU policy with considerable UK financial assets but for limited UK gain.
5. It adds a ‘gravitational risk’ to the UK for the start of defence talks in 2019, which are intended to take us closer to EU defence union
How? Since the UK is already part signed up, it feeds future calls for the UK to remain in the EU’s centralising military strategy, removing the UK’s ability to take independent action in defence and defence procurement to save jobs and expertise.
6. It threatens NATO
How? The European Commission’s European Defence Action Plan repeatedly asserts the EU’s ‘strategic autonomy’ in defence.
“The EU will continue to work closely with its partners, particularly with the United Nations and NATO, while respecting the autonomy of the EU’s decision-making processes.”
The European External Action Service [EU diplomatic service] Security and Defence Implementation Plan, as well as the EU Council conclusions from March, May and November 2017, repeatedly refer to the development of EU strategic autonomy in defence.
The EU is pursuing four separate funding streams that partly claim authority over member states’ national defence budgets and joint financial assets. The decision making over these funds and their conduct will be done within the EU remit, not through NATO.
The protagonists of EU defence union have outlined areas in which NATO has not served the objectives of the EU. Ursula von der Leyen, German Defence Minister, justified EU defence union by citing NATO ‘inability’ to intervene in the Western Balkans, Ukraine and Africa. This helps explain why the EU is moving towards developing common pooled EU assets. It already has collective assets such as its Satellite Centre, and a Space Policy to go with it.
7. It is completely unnecessary for the UK to be involved, yet EU Commissioners have told the UK Government it is expected to “play its full role”.
Denmark, an EU member state, plays no part in EU defence because it opted out. The UK should have insisted on the same deal.
Diplomats and Ministers thought they were “nurturing good will” by playing along, but that’s not how the EU works. It’s an acquisitive project that exploits every opportunity behind momentary consensus.
The EU Commission has told the UK that because “decisions over EU Defence Union were taken unanimously”, the UK is expected to “play its full role while it remains a member”.