20 European Union countries will today sign a pledge to co-operate closely on defence with the UK government not involved in the defence pledge.

Previous efforts to strengthen links have been unsuccessful for decades due to Britain’s opposition to a combined European military.

“We’ve never come this far before,” a senior European Union official told Reuters, he said of EU defence integration efforts that date back to a failed bid in the 1950s. “We are in a new situation.”

The permanent structured cooperation on defence agreement (PESCO), seeks to tighten defence between EU members and improve coordination in the development of new military hardware.

Aside from Denmark, which has opted out of all EU defence, only Austria, Poland, Ireland and Malta have yet to decide whether to join the pact. The UK Government however have signalled that it wants a close security relationship with the EU after Brexit.

“It’s in our mutual interest to work closely with the EU and its member states to challenge terrorism and extremism, illegal migration, cyber crime, and conventional state-based military aggression” said David Davis, Brexit secretary.

The UK contributes to several EU military programmes, including those countering migration from Libya and piracy off Somalia.

 

 

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Rob
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Rob

Probably wise although how this will translate into defence policy and actual improvements in capabilities remains to be seen. One thing is for sure, NATO still holds sway and will do for some time yet.

The only way an EU defence force will have real teeth is if Germany ups its spending and there are no real signs of that.

Jack
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Jack

France would demand all the manufacturing work but expect the rest of the EU to pay for it all.

BB85
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BB85

That is exactly what this defense pact will turn into, it has nothing to do with defense and everything about taking as much industrial support from each other as possible. Leonardo is already taking the hump because without the UK backing them (who is their biggest customer) a lot of joint development proposals will be snatched up by EADs and Airbus who are primarily a Franco German consortium.

Tim62
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Tim62

BB85 exactly, if I were the Italians I would be worried

Nathan
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Nathan

Agreed

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Another step on the road of the EU wanting to be a super state.

When push comes to shove though they will still be hiding behind the USA.

I will take NATO thank you.

andy
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andy

we need to stay well away from this,we the UK are the ones who should control our military it,s weapons and assets not those bureaucratic idiots who,s only goal in life is to bleed the UK of our money which they have done for years and are still trying to do with Brexit…let the EU have there little army,because i think there next goal will be to try and pull away from NATO,so they do not have to cough up any cash for that since the USA and UK have paid most of there pathetic little share anyway….

Dave Branney
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Dave Branney

Perhaps, if they decided to go that route we should charge them a divorce bill – quid pro quo!

Nick Bowman
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Nick Bowman

This is all about bolstering EU authority. None of the signatories is particularly concerned about defence; being quite content for NATO (read the US and the UK) to provide the real teeth. It’s clearly meant as a slap in the face of the UK, too. In time, an EU army, air-force and navy will form. They will discuss a common financial commitment. It will be less than 2% of GDP. The Americans will go crazy and the EU will withdraw from NATO. Of course, they will call for NATO help if they are seriously threatened. It’s pathetic, really. As a… Read more »

Tim62
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Tim62

@Nick Bowman ‘the EU will withdraw from Nato’?With respect, what are you on about?. There is absolutely no way any west European government is going to do that. You might argue that Hungary might – it would be a smidgin more likely- but the idea that France or Germany is leaving Nato is not remotely on the cards. I know various posters here seem to think leaving the EU is a good idea (it isn’t, but that decision’s been taken) but the idea that we’re on our way to an ‘EU Army’ is daft. There is no, repeat NO, evidence… Read more »

Mike Saul
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Mike Saul

You do know that France left NATO in 1966 citing it did not wish to be in the American sphere of influence.

I know it rejoined sometime later, but could happen again.

andy
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andy

and sold exocet missiles to Argintina,the CIA MI5 and 6 were buying them from France during the Falklands conflict,shows how much the French were bothered about the UK they wanted us to be defeated..

FrankLT
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FrankLT

Yes they did, but we also sold the Argies type 42 destroyers, Canberra strike aircraft & a lot of dodgy bombs that sometimes didn’t go off, amongst other things. What we should remember is that nations usually look after their own interests best of all. Irish neutrality may stop them joining the Euro army. I’d hate to see the Euro-crypto fascists in charge of an effective fighting machine. We’ve seen the unelected EU elite’s true colours stonewalling & speaking down to us over Brexit, so much for tolerance & respect of others cultures & democratic rights. This country needs to… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Tim 62. Respectfully disagree.

It really is, for endless reasons….
And yes that decision has been taken.

There is no need whatsoever for the EU to take these steps unless they wish to eventually supersede NATO.

It is NATO and a nuclear deterrent that has preserved peace in Europe, not the EU.

Tim62
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Tim62

Hi Daniele Thank yuo for your reply. On the Nato deterrent point we agree but it not and never has been an either/or. Of course Nato has been the military deterrent – bar none…. But – the post-WW2 political unity which led to the Benelux agreement, the ECSC and then the 1957 Treaty of Rome was also vital in keeping Europe’s former warring powers together economically. That was the whole point of it. Countries that are economically inter-dependent are less likely to go war with each other. Along with Nato on the military front, economically the EEC and now EU… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Fair enough Tim. Agree to disagree but I take your points.

barry white
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barry white

Tim62
” Along with Nato on the military front, economically the EEC and now EU has played a vital role in keeping Europe together.”
That paragraph says it all
If it was still the EEC and not the EU we in the UK would not have had a problem staying in the EEC but not the EU
And now they want an EU army!!!!!

Chris
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Chris

Tim62 – You slipped up badly. Lets take your words: “I know various posters here seem to think leaving the EU is a good idea (it isn’t, but that decision’s been taken) but the idea that we’re on our way to an ‘EU Army’ is daft” Its an excellent idea and ambition for us to be a single independent country again and rise or fall by our own abilities unhindered by an elite bureaucracy, thousands of laws and directives we have no say in fabricating or challenging and paying for the privilege. As for the EU Army you may want… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Beautiful.

Tim62
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Tim62

@Chris I admire the passion behind your argument, but for me you overstate the case. I have been studying the EU and its operations for nigh on 40 years, and yes there are federalists who want an super-state – but they not where the power lies. The idea of great EU defence cooperation is wholly sensible – given that the whole aim of it is to minimise industrial duplication – of which there is a huge amount in Europe and Nato has been unable to achieve that. So having a pan-European industrial defence strategy is highly sensible But frankly, and… Read more »

Mike Saul
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Mike Saul

The desire of the EU treaty is for ever closer union.

To me it makes perfect sense that this should include a unified military force. Not a revolution but an evolutionary path for the EU.

I see the ultimate goal to be a United States of Europe on the American model, of course the UK will not be part of this evolution.

Chris
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Chris

Mike – We all know this is the case but the EU deny its own intentions. And why the people left in the EU will never be asked in a referendum. Because they would lose. Politicians may be happy playing games with their nation’s military but populations tend to have a huge allegiance and affection for their own forces. For the simple reason it is THEIR sons, daughters, husbands, wives and family who do the signing up and dying. Not the politicians. And if you want to see how ineffective such an EU Army would be look no further than… Read more »

andy
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andy

i sat and watched Srebrenica unfold from a mountain top 3.5 miles away,the Dutch welcomed the Serbs with open arms and did nothing to try and stop it,they asked for air support but that was it,no call for any other support,then they had the cheek to try and blame us the British for there failings..again innocent people murdered..

Steve Salt
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Steve Salt

A defence pact between countries that show no desire to actually pay for it.
Sounds to me like a `club` we`re well out of !

David Steeper
Guest

We should welcome this. If it means we can refocus on our national security rather than covering for states that are sometimes larger and richer than ourselves who choose to have even more inadequate armed forces than ourselves. Our contribution to NATO should be in the North Atlantic and expeditionary.

Mike Saul
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Mike Saul

Marcon, the French President, called for a shared defence budget and a European military intervention force in September 2017.

He also called for the creation of an EU defence force by 2020 that would give the bloc “autonomous capacity for action” .

A shared defence budget, a military force and autonomous capacity. May not be a full blown EU army, but you can quite clearly see the direction of travel.

Rover10
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Rover10

What is NATO? These plans are silly and divisive. If only the current members allocated the full money to the alliance, that would help enormously. However, the EUDF will take years to integrate and will be as unwheely as Brussels is in governing the EU. Forgive my cynicism, but we all know who will have to contribute the most in forces and budget, yes Germany.

The US and UK plus those Scandinavian states that wish to remain in NATO, should go it alone.

AV
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AV

The evolution of continued EU integration is going to happen…as will integration of European militaries.
A very slippery slope.

Geoffrey Roach
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Geoffrey Roach

Better off out of it whatever happens.

Tim B
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Tim B

I would argue that if this does go forth and the European Union does intend to leave NATO, then we, the leftovers, should continue NATO but make it global. The most likely leftovers would be the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Norway, Poland, and some Central European countries. Amend the articles of the Washington Treaty to ensure we can expand it outside of the North Atlantic to include Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, etc. And doing so would allow NATO to defend Gibraltar, the Falklands, Guam, etc. Establish a global alliance of democracies.

FrankLT
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FrankLT

I think this shows we’re entering very dangerous times. We simply cannot afford to run down our forces any more & need to strengthen & grow them steadily. No more capability gaps. The tools to do the job if ever necessary & able to resist aggression conventionally without an early resort to the nuclear deterrent due to weak conventional forces.

John Clark
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John Clark

Some very interesting points made here. To summarise it seems absolutely clear this will achieve two things, first, further deprivation of NATO.

Second, insuring that a maximum number of military contracts go to Franco German companies.

What a toothless tiger it would be. The Germans won’t deploy anywhere and the French would insist on C a C of the non existent deployment!

Purely designed to get more contracts for Airbus Military

Steve R
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Steve R

If a Euro defence force comes to fruition, who will control it? The unelected Brussels officials? We are well served by not being asked to join. NATO is enough, there is no need for a EU alternative. Countries with membership of both agencies might well find themselves torn two ways if NATO and EU agendas disagree. Sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Mr Bell
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Mr Bell

Sheez what a joke. Despite the potential loss of trade and income I think we are better off out. The EU nations behind the calls for greater unity are not exactly our staunch allies. The only thing the UK needs to do now is revert back to hard power and reinvest in its military. That way we are not reliant on any support from France or Germany or the cowardly Dutch who caved in and allow a massacre in Srebrenica or the Germans who steadfastly refused to patrol the dangerous zones of Afghanistan, preferring the UK, Canadians, Australians and Americans… Read more »

dadsarmy
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dadsarmy

Just noticed this article, so won’t comment much until it comes up again, but first I think NATO welcomes this initiative, and second I think it’s not much more than that of NORDEFCO, of which Denmark is a member, as well as Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. It’s about co-operation on military projects, and perhaps some co-ordination of forces at times, from existing assets.