Having written previously on the formation of an EU Armed Forces, with recent changes gathering apace I am compelled to write further on the topic of the EU army, its position with NATO and the future potential consequences.
Since the conception of the current European Union there have always been plans for what people are referring to as an EU army. As early as the 1992 Maastricht Treaty (Treaty on European Union) under Article J.4, plans were made for the EU to form a common defence policy, with the aim to go on and form a common defence, i.e. the basis on which to form the inception for an EU Army.
By 2003, at a meeting in Brussels it was agreed between France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg to form a “European Defence Initiative”, whereby the armed forces of each nation would in future work closer together in cooperation.
This meant reinforcing the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) which lead to the formation of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). Though both policies serve the same purpose, there are major and important differences in how they each go about achieving that goal.
At the 2007 Treaty of Lisbon (TEU) it was agreed to expand upon Article J.4 so, under Article 42 it was agreed for the upcoming CSDP to pool the resources available to the European Defence Agency (EDA) and form a “Permanent Structured Cooperation in Defence” within the EU. In effect this was the license granting the EU to form a combined EU Armed Forces enshrined as a directive in EU legislation.
For an EU Army to come to fruition the Common Security and Defence Policy was required to supersede the European Security and Defence Policy. It is vital to understand the differences between the two. The main points of the ESDP are:
- The ESDP though being of Europe was not operating under direct legislation from the EU.
- The ESDP was enacted under the organisation of the Western European Union (WEU). Though the WEU’s Council and Assembly operated from a headquarters in Brussels, the organisation was in fact a part of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), the Allied Command Operations headquarters for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
- The remit of the ESDP was enacted under NATO protocols.
- In 1995 a European multinational rapid reaction force, the European Rapid Operational Force (Eurofor) was set up by the WEU. The deployment of Eurofor was a joint NATO and EU action.
By comparison the nature of the Common Security and Defence Policy brought about by the Treaty of Lisbon differs greatly to the previous European Security and Defence Policy. Those differences are:
- The CSDP falls entirely under the jurisdiction of the European Union. NATO has no say and plays no part in the policy.
- The WEU embedded in NATO was abolished to be replaced by the European Defence Agency (EDA) as early as 2004. The EDA is answerable solely to the EU Council and has no links with NATO. The EDA is responsible for a remit that covers everything from defence think-tanks to research and development, from operational planning to tactical deployment.
- Eurofor the joint NATO and EU European multinational rapid reaction force was replaced by the EU Battlegroup (EU BG). Again, this EU Battlegroup is solely answerable to the Council of the European Union and therefore the unelected European Commission.
The EU Battlegroup is also complemented with the European Corps (Eurocorps), the European Gendarmerie Force (EUROGENDFOR or EGF), the European Maritime Force (Euromarfor or EMF) and the European Union Force (EUFOR). All are joint EU operations.
It is the EU Battlegroup which has formed the nucleus of this EU army. Already in May, British troops of the 2nd Battalion, the Yorkshire Regiment and the 4th Infantry Brigade were deployed on exercise on Salisbury Plain as part of an EU Battlegroup joint operation. Further more, as explained by others including Colonel Richard Kemp CBE, from July these troops shall form part of the EU High Readiness Battlegroup and shall be commanded by the EU Council.
The European Defence Agency and therefore the EU Battlegroup is presided over by the “High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy”. The High Representative works in conjunction with the President of the European Council. Both unelected in the positions they hold. It is they who shall hold sway over the deployment of the 2nd Battalion, the Yorkshire Regiment and the 4th Infantry Brigade from July. The post of High Representative is currently held by Italian politician Federica Mogherini. A member of the Italian Communist Youth Federation, after the dissolution of the Italian Communist Party, Mogherini became a member of the post-Communist `Democratic Party of the Left’. So at this very moment a representative of the Communist/Socialist left now holds the power to preside over the deployment of members of HM Armed Forces.
Whether members of HM Armed Forces on exercise bore the insignia of the Union flag or the EU flag is a moot point. The most pressing issue is who held control and overall power to deploy British troops on exercise. The answer to this is the High Representative, a `foreign’ politician and a `non-British’ body hold the powers to control a supposedly sovereign nation and the movements of its troops. This is not a fantasy, nor a dream but an event that has already taken place in actuality and has already occurred.
In my previous article The Armed Forces of the EU, I concentrated upon the eventual and complete loss of sovereign control of HM Armed Forces by the UK. I also focused upon future dangers placed upon citizens of the EU when, not if an EU Armed Forces came to fruition.
Since there are many in the StrongerIn and Remain camp who display a total sense of naivety where it concerns political and defence policy matters, and who are in complete and utter denial about the formation of an EU army, I would care to impart to them a prescient concern which is far greater than the UK leaving the EU.
Don’t just take my word for it, for what I am about to write. Listen to the professionals. Listen to Veterans for Britain, heed the words of Rear Admiral Roger Lane-Nott CB, Major-General Julian Thompson CB, OBE, General Sir Michael Rose KCB CBE DSO, QGM, Lt-Gen Jonathon Riley, Major-General Tim Cross CBE, Major-General Nick Vaux CB, DSO, Major-General Malcolm Hunt OBE, Rear Admiral Richard Heaslip CB, Rear Admiral Conrad Jenkin, Commodore Mike Clapp CB, Colonel Richard Kemp CBE and now included in that number Field Marshal Lord Charles Guthrie GCB, LVO, OBE, DL. Research these men and what they now say of the EU. You shall not only discover much bravery on their part but you shall also discover much reasoning and truth in the words they say.
To place the current dangers of the European Defence Agency and Article 42 in to context we must look to the past and the Cold War. Many of us are children of the atomic age. Born after the Second World War we grew up in a world that lived under a silent but constant threat of total annihilation during the Cold War with the USSR, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics opposing the West which included the USA and NATO members.
During this Cold War period, especially for many of us who grew up in the vicinity of, or indeed on military barracks, we were fully aware that we were all protected by the concept of “Mutual Assured Destruction” (MAD). A form of global peace was maintained, with both sides fully aware that in the event of a pre-emptive nuclear strike the other side would retaliate without fail with equal or greater force including the use of second-strike capability. The absolute guarantee that either side would retaliate with equal force brought parity to the Cold War and ensured an acceptable stalemate. It was only in Korea and Southeast Asia that the Cold War was able to turn “Hot” in any way, allowing opposing forces to `safely’ judge their foes combat abilities.
In the mean time, we were well versed in “Protect and Survive” public information films. But we never panicked. Living near military installations we were all aware that somewhere in Soviet Russia our areas would be targeted by ballistic missiles. But we also were aware that we were all under the protective envelope of professional NATO forces. Under the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP) we were protected by the intercontinental bombers from the United States’ `Strategic Air Command’, we were protected by our own Royal Air Force and among others the Avro Vulcan bombers. By sea our Royal Navy deployed the Polaris programme, ensuring that four nuclear powered Resolution class ballistic missile submarines patrolled the seas. By counter-measure for anti-submarine warfare, the Royal Navy deployed long-range hunter-killer submarines to search for Soviet ballistic missile submarines. Ensuring our security, did not alone fall to the USA and the UK. That task was ensured by all NATO members, most notably Canada. We were eternally grateful to all the NATO personnel for their dedicated service and constant vigilance as they showed courageous acts of bravery and sacrifice.
During all that time of the Cold War NATO forces kept us safe. They ensured parity. The Soviet Union were aware if they had carried out a pre-emptive strike, those in command at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), the Allied Command Operations headquarters for NATO in Brussels under the Western European Union (WEU) would have been authorized in those circumstances to retaliate with immediate effect alongside the USA. Thus the stalemate of guaranteed “Mutual Assured Destruction” ensured peace.
Now all of those safeguards against any combative strike shall be gone. Thanks to the EU Army, or at the very least which even the Remainers can admit to, the joint EU defence policy of the European Defence Agency. Along with the EU Battlegroup this has guaranteed the marginalization of NATO within the EU.
These are precarious times. The administration of Barack Obama is currently more concerned with pressing matters in the Pacific Ocean, looking to the China Seas, China, North Korea and Southeast Asia rather than concentrating efforts towards Europe and NATO. Whoever the next Commander-in-Chief shall be, I doubt this outlook will alter very soon. At the same moment that President Obama berates NATO members from the EU for not achieving high enough levels of expenditure in their defence budgets towards NATO, these same EU states have directed this funding towards the European Defence Agency. While the power of NATO weakens and is siphoned off, so does the power of the EU’s own defences weaken. The EU army may already exist in the form of the EU Battlegroup but as each nation amalgamates its own forces in to the EU army the dilution is becoming so great to be considered a threat to our defence strategy.
As previously mentioned in my other articles, since 2013 Germany has begun the integration and amalgamation of its Deutsche Marine with the Royal Netherlands Navy, the Koninklijke Marine, including their respective Marine forces, the German Seebataillon and the Dutch Korps Mariniers, along with all submarine operations. Further to this, an 800 strong German army battalion will be integrated into the Dutch Navy. The collaboration between Germany and the Netherlands has seen over 2,000 Dutch soldiers from the 11th Airmobile Brigade (11 Luchtmobiele Brigade) integrated into the Rapid Forces Division (Division Schnelle Kräfte) of the German Bundeswehr. In future the 43rd Mechanized Brigade (Gemechaniseerde Brigade) of the Royal Netherlands Army will be integrated into the 1st Panzer Division (Bundeswehr Panzerdivision), but the Bundeswehr 414 Panzerbattalion has at this time already been merged with the Gemechaniseerde Brigade. Due to amalgamation all of these forces are therefore reduced in size and weakened due to less personnel and material. Nevertheless, all have been assigned to the EU Battlegroup and are conversely not a part of NATO forces.
Now we come to the most problematic and dangerous issues of the European Defence Agency. Under Article 42.2 of the Treaty of Lisbon:
“The common security and defence policy shall include the progressive framing of a common Union defence policy. This will lead to a common defence, when the European Council, acting unanimously, so decides. It shall in that case recommend to the Member States the adoption of such a decision in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.”
In the past where those in command of NATO at SHAPE could order an effective and immediate retaliation, is the European Defence Agency now in the position where all 28 members and 2 Presidents of the European Council need to be in unanimous agreement before a retaliatory strike can be made? This seems like a virtual impossibility. It is little wonder that in the six Yugoslav Wars fought from 1991 to 2001, conflicts fought on European soil; there was no presence from the EU in the Balkans. Not once. All intervening forces came from NATO and UN Peacekeeping Operations. Not a single presence from the EU due to a lack of unanimous agreement. This is just one example in a litany of many.
This is a grave concern and a very serious threat to our immediate safety. If European Defence Agency forces are not deployed by unanimous agreement then what may be the other options? It may be possible in future we shall witness the High Representative and the President of the European Council (both unelected in the positions they hold) take the executive decision to order a retaliate strike. To consider the possibility that either would hold sway over the Royal Navy’s Trident nuclear programme and their four nuclear powered Vanguard-class ballistic missile submarines does not bear thinking about. By recent attitudes exhibited by the EU it would seem unlikely that their services would ever be deployed, no matter the circumstance. Worse still, all potential future threats to the EU will be aware of the impotence of the European Defence Agency and will perceive any EU concept of “Mutual Assured Destruction” (MAD) as moribund.
This weakness is a grave threat to global peace. To vote Brexit is the only way to ensure the long term survival of a strong NATO presence within Europe and maintain global peace. If the people of the UK vote to remain in the EU, HM Armed Forces shall ultimately be confined by the rules of Article 42. Operating within the EU Battlegroup, call it an EU army, call it a joint-operation, call it what you will; what it means is that our professional armed forces shall be bound up in the EU’s vanity project as they form their own army, therefore neutralizing the combat effectiveness of HM Armed Forces. In future we shall witness an EU army which focuses almost solely on internal crises, while simultaneously flag waving and marching on parade grounds to persuade the citizens of Europe that this army has any gravitas; at the same time they shall turn a blind eye to all external threats from outside of the EU.
While remaining within the EU, the UK shall be unable to influence future defence policies of the Common Security and Defence Policy or the European Defence Agency. It is only by leaving the EU, would the UK be able to influence the disastrous situation Europe now finds itself in. After Brexit the UK would at last regain a powerful voice within Europe to speak on behalf of NATO. Only after Brexit could the UK have enough power to influence the United States of America to once again look towards Europe and NATO. For NATO forces would be unable to operate effectively without the great input from the forces of the USA.
If you wish to preserve NATO to ensure the safety of ours and future generations the only solution for this is to choose Brexit and to vote leave on the 23rd June.