A Sight on European Defence

While reading in detail the report of the group of experts on a new strategic concept for NATO, lead by Mrs Albright, I felt as if I was dreaming. Indeed, page 25, the experts dared writing: “The new strategic concept should recognise that the EU’s Treaty of Lisbon is designed, among other purposes, to strengthen Europe’s military capabilities and command structures”.

My extreme surprise was provoked by the comparison between this statement and the government program endorsed by the Britsh Conservatives and their LibDem allies. I just remind you that this agreement does not contain one word on European Defence. Clearly, it means that both parties could not reach an agreement on this point, and by such it will remain pending as long as the situation remains as such.

Really, it will not change. The coalition will be complicated enough for every day business, they will not need additional conflicts, all the more that those conflicts are conceptual ones and are not the result of some campaign stances or programs. To have more details on this point, everybody can refer to the conservative manifesto, which states: “we believe that NATO, whilst in need of reform, should remain the cornerstone of our defence. Matters of enormous national sensitivity, such as defence procurement, are better dealt through inter­governmental bilateral and multi­lateral negotiations, rather than through supranational institutions.

We will therefore examine resources currently spent on bureaucratic and wasteful EU defence initiatives and spend the money on our servicemen and women. As part of that we will re­evaluate our position with the European Defence Agency as part of the Strategic Defence Review.” (I already made use of it in a previous post).

However, in order to have a more accurate approach of the current British policy as for the EU, or Common Security and Defence Policy refers, I would rather read the speech, very interesting by the way, that Mr Liam Fox, the new British Secretary for Defence made on 11th February 2010. He then said: “With the Lisbon Treaty we have what is now called “Common Security and Defence Policy” – an arcane change in the nomenclature, you might think, but in the detail lay the foundations of EU integrationists leaning away from NATO”.

Obviously, Mrs Albright, who hence pleaded against duplication must be looked at as an ‘integrationist’.

Therefore I cannot see any significant and real progress regarding European Defence, within the few next years:

-Conceptually the UK conservative Secretary for Defence, Mr Liam Fox, is against. As former member of the conservative shadow cabinet, his position opinion is for sure the valid one within the whole party.

-The LibDems, the other party of the coalition, is not strong enough to amend such a view.

-Being one of the two European nuclear powers and the European country spending the most on Defence, it is almost impossible to build a credible defence in Europe without or, worse, against the UK.

For these reasons, the nice statement of the group of experts will for sure remain a wish for a couple of years if not more.

Otherwise, we should resign ourselves to build up a European Defence without the UK, making use of the Reinforced Structured Cooperation, as foreseen by Lisbon Treaty. But, who would be able to do so?

Author :