Thursday 8 September 2011

The EU Army Is Born.

The "big five" has told the EU foreign minister that she must set up a European "Operational HQ" by any means necessary, including a legal mechanism, created by the Lisbon Treaty that bypasses a British veto.

William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, threatened in July to veto a proposed military HQ to "command and control" troops, including British forces, taking part in EU operations, such as the current antipiracy naval force off the coast of Somalia.

But in a confidential letter, dated September 2, foreign ministers from the five countries create a powerful alliance against an isolated Britain by pledging their "strong political will to continue" as a "matter of urgency".

"France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain remain at your disposal to support your work in this regard," says the letter to Lady Ashton, seen by The Daily Telegraph.

"We believe it remains the most comprehensive basis for further work on all the issues: capabilities, including civil-military planning and conduct capability, battle groups and EU/Nato relations."

Most controversially, the alliance instructs Lady Ashton to seek "structured co-operation" a legal route, never before used, to set up the HQ without Britain, with "tangible results" demanded by the end of the year.

"We encourage you to examine all institutional and legal options available to member states including permanent structured co-operation to develop critical Common Security and Defence Policy capabilities, notably a permanent planning and conduct capability."

"Structured co-operation" would allow countries to go it alone on the military HQ on the basis of a majority vote, bypassing Britain's veto to put British forces in EU battle-groups outside the command structure and creating a new rift in Nato.

In her proposals, Lady Ashton, urged that the European operational headquarters currently spread across Europe in Germany, France, Greece, Italy and Britain be united under one roof, with an EU military staff of 250 people.

The move puts the EU foreign minister, a Labour peer, at odds with the British government and could lead to the worst rift in European foreign policy since the Iraq war in 2003.

Mr Hague has declared the issue a "red line" and defeat would be a major setback and failure of the government's European policy, especially for Euro-sceptics within the Conservatives.

The government has been angered by the letter and its threat to bypass Britain using a legal route that was originally intended to help countries work on practical defence co-operation, such as air transport.

"Structured co-operation was designed to encourage member states to work together to increase European capabilities," said a government spokesman.

"It is inappropriate to use EU mechanisms to advance the political agendas of only a few member states."

Britain supports European calls, backed by America, for more investment in military capabilities, improved planning and running of operations and better EU-Nato co-operation.

"But we disagree strongly that a permanent EU OHQ is the answer to these problems," said the government spokesman.

British officials observe that European divisions over military operations, such as with Libya, will not be papered over by creating an expensive HQ.

"Focusing energy and resources on a project which is essentially about symbolism represents a costly distraction from investment in the defence and civilian capabilities that are really required, and will do nothing to increase political will to act," said the spokesman.

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1 comment:

Ade said...

William Hague and Fox are part of the whole thing, they are pretend opposition.