Monday, February 07, 2005

Myth Two: the European Army

Jack Straw's FCO has now published its second "myth" on the FCO website. This one is: "The Constitutional Treaty will create a European Army".

According to the FCO, "the facts" are that "British armed forces will remain under British control. Just as in NATO, our armed forces are deployed only with our Government's agreement. We choose whether to deploy them as part of an EU force."

The government's argument is that the current round of defence integration simply "adds another layer to our security":

European defence cooperation allows us to mount peacekeeping and conflict prevention missions using European military forces. We have already launched three such operations, in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Bosnia. We have also mounted civilian operations in Macedonia, Bosnia, Georgia and are about to do so in Democratic Republic of Congo.
Britain, says the FCO, keeps its veto over European defence. We negotiated successfully to keep our veto, allowing Britain to decide when the EU should act and only where NATO chooses not to. It does not undermine NATO, which according to Article I-41.7 "remains the foundation of our collective defence."

Furthermore, says the FCO, the European Defence Agency is not building a European Army. The official line is that the Agency, led by a British Chief Executive, is designed to help Member States develop their own capabilities and ensure that those capabilities are deployable, sustainable and able to operate together.

Once again, it seems, we are in "straw dog" territory. No one seriously argues that the constitution does create a European Army. But, as this Blog has consistently argued in numerous posts, defence integration is proceeding apace, often outside the remit of the treaties and certainly without the benefit of the constitution.

Interestingly, the government quotes Article I-41.7 but chooses not to inform readers that the self-same Article creates a fully-fledged military alliance, imposing obligations on member states which are more rigorous than the Nato treaty.

But the essence of military integration is that it is being done piecemeal, and the threat to Nato is that, as the EU develops its "defence identity", the US will become less interested in the Europe and progressively detach itself from the alliance – as is already happening

As always, the approach of the FCO grossly over-simplifies the issues. But are you surprised?

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