Government “Future Partnership” paper – Foreign policy, defence and development

On this website, we have expressed our concern that the Government shows no desire to disentangle ourselves from EU defence policy on Brexit. This latest Government paper has done nothing to alleviate our worries. Rather than provide our own assessment of this paper, we are reproducing (with permission) the comments of David Banks from Veterans for Britain.

DExEU’s defence partnership paper is a grave mistake and gives the EU control

A Norway-style abdication of defence powers would betray British voters, senior military veterans say today.

It is in response to a DExEU paper which calls for a defence relationship with the EU “closer than a third country”.

One other country currently fulfills the EU’s criteria for ‘closer than a third country’ and that is Norway, which has submitted itself to EU Common Defence Policy, EU defence industry directives, membership of the European Defence Agency and the growing impact of Juncker’s European Defence Action Plan.

The DExEU paper proposes keeping the UK locked into structures, policies and financial schemes of the new EU ‘Defence Union’ that are scheduled to pass increasing amounts of control to the EU after 2017. It poses a major threat to the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance with the Anglosphere and will certainly alienate the Americans

The DExEU paper, which is in fact the product of FCO and MOD civil servants, comes after 10 months of EU agreements in defence which were hardly noticed by UK MPs and media because UK participation and consent was not thought relevant to the departing UK.

“Britain is walking into a carefully planned EU ambush from which UK officials have not protected us. We would ask MPs, ministers and defence observers to urgently read through the 100,000+ words of EU plans, advisory notes and EU Council agreements completed since the Brexit vote. All of this, which has virtually bypassed MPs on the understanding that we are leaving, is now suddenly and desperately relevant to the United Kingdom,” said Major-General Julian Thompson, chairman of Veterans for Britain and Royal Marines Veteran who commanded landing of British troops on the Falklands Conflict.

British voters have always been more opposed to an EU role over their defence than any other issue. Polls have consistently shown that public support for UK control over defence is much greater even than the majority who want to leave the EU.

NOTES TO EDITORS

  1. What recent EU Defence Union agreements mean
  2. Problems for the UK ‘closer than third country’ submission to it
  3. Ministerial statements about EU Defence Union
  4. Additional comments from Professor Gwythian Prins, Rear-Admiral Roger Lane-Nott and Colonel Richard Kemp
  1. What recent EU agreements mean
    1. EU Defence Union is framed in five separate EU Council agreements between 14 November 2016 and 22 June 2017, relating to the Security and Defence Implementation Plan (Mogherini) and the European Defence Action Plan (Juncker).
    2. The UK is a full participating signatory to the EU Council agreements.
    3. A further informal meeting on Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), the final component of Defence Union, was held on Thursday in Estonia where the UK representative also indicated complete agreement. A binding EU Council meeting of defence ministers is to be held in October 2017 and the EU Commission expects to begin PESCO i.e. an EU Army in all but name,  before the end of 2017.
    4. The agreements cover:
      1.     Four new sources of military finance including the European Defence Fund.
      2.     There are also plans on space, intelligence, UAVs and marine drones.
      3. Military technology will lead to joint purchasing and ownership of assets and these assets will be governed by joint policy.
      4. Strategic direction, decision making and physical command centres.
      5.  Defence research.
      6. MPs are STILL unaware and have not debated or agreed to most of this. Only one part was discussed, that was the European Defence Fund – 10 weeks AFTER it was agreed by UK officials at the EU.
  1. The problems created by UK adherence to EU defence
    1.    Harm Five Eyes relationship. UK is asked under SDIP to propose ways to plug UK into SIAC, the EU’s military intelligence command. (Single Intelligence Analysis Capacity)
    2. Loss of control over growing areas of defence policy. The DExEU paper describe actively delegating growing areas of decision-making over UK defence policy to the wider EU. It also submits the UK to gradual EU integration in intelligence, ownership of assets, defence procurement, research, growing elements of funding and strategic direction to collective decision-making over time in all these areas: intelligence, asset development, budgeting, research, asset purchase, asset ownership,as described in the EU Council agreements the UK has agreed since November 2016.
    3. Decision making and participation would be on EU terms. The UK would be submitting to EU control of budgets, research, assets, policy.
      1. Defence procurement.
        1. EU Defence procurement directives mean cheapest EU-wide tender for government contracts.
        2. UK shipyards and defence firms have relied on a national security exemption where UK gov can restrict contracts to UK suppliers — which the EU has just clamped down on.
        3. It is also subject to the gradually tightening and the latest EU moves via the European Defence Action Plan.
        4. The Type 26 Frigate adheres to EU rules and EDA benchmarks.
        5. The National Shipbuilding Strategy commits to  build only frigates, destroyers and submarines  in the UK. All other types including patrol, RFA, LPDs are to be open to international tender..
    4. Tied in in defence research project PADR (Preparatory Action on Defence Research), which the MOD started to push in June and which requires long-term UK adherence to EU rules.
    5. The US will be upset by EU protectionism in its emerging EDTIB. The UK is collaborating in its creation. (European Defence Technology Industrial Base
  1. Ministerial statements about EU Defence Union

What ministers have committed to:

13 December 2016: “Government supported much of the content of the Mogherini Security and Defence Implementation Plan” https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmeuleg/71-xxii/7112.htm

8 June 2017: UK pushing companies towards EU deals that require long-term adherence to EU policy, CSDP, EDA https://twitter.com/VeteransBritain/status/905551231195779076

22 February 2017: Minister regards European Defence Action Plan as “predominantly positive for member state capabilities and the UK defence industry” https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmeuleg/71-xxxiv/7114.htm

22 February 2017: Minister expects UK adherence to EU defence directives to continue: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmeuleg/71-xxxiv/7114.htm

7 September 2017: National Shipbuilding Strategy submits the UK to EU rules

https://twitter.com/VeteransBritain/status/905439206473945090

  1. Additional comments

Ministers in charge of exiting the EU are being advised by people who wrote defence integration agenda of Blair, people who have worked and still work under Federica Mogherini and people who simultaneously work for MOD and the European Defence Agency. The British public would be shocked by the conflicts of interest of people advising ministers and people in this country. The British people do not want to surrender defence autonomy to the EU.

This DExEU paper is not a bargaining hand. It means giving the EU the deck of cards. 

The last 10 months of agreements spell out where the EU is going. Offering continued UK compliance to these agreements means submitting to their evolving nature and increasingly to the will of collective decision making in everything from finance to deployment, instead of UK government decision making within NATO.

Ministers need officials who are willing to spell out the full EU agenda here and what the UK would lose in democratic control – not just pass on the warm words used by Brussels.

Instead of promising more giveaways, ministers should be working out how the UK can extricate itself from these unnecessary commitments.

Based on a misperception that the EU is a benevolent a-la-carte club.  

In loose language, it alludes to “a defence relationship with the EU that’s closer than any third country” — in other words, the continuation of the mess that officials from FCO and MOD have created in the last 12 months. 

–       Rear-Admiral Roger Lane-Nott, former chief of staff, submarines.

We have NATO and EU efforts to establish decision making authority or to have its own structures threatens the transatlantic alliance.

Submitting to EU defence plans also lets down the UK’s closest allies including the US – it means supporting the EU’s plans for the protectionist EDTIB (European Defence Technology Industrial Base) which seeks “EU sovereignty” in defence assets and whose new defence research network actively blocks US and Canadian companies from participating.

In simple democratic terms, if the public were fully aware of what “closer than third country” actually means they would never agree  to it. Nor would they agree with the ministerial statements of the last 10 months in reference to them. Our ministers seem to be walking blindly into a well prepare EU ambush of just the sort Yanis Varoufakis the sacked Greek finance minister has been repeatedly warning us.” –Professor Gwythian Prins,

“The paper will talk about a defence relationship ‘closer than any third country’. BUT IN PLAIN WORDS THAT amounts to the UK staying in the recently agreed EU Defence Union agreements just as Norway has agreed to do. Also, just like Norway, it means the UK submitting to EU common defence policy, EU defence directives and European Defence Agency membership, which are all conditions the EU has placed on the UK for this kind of arrangement. This is all dangerous and puts the UK on a trajectory to EU defence union.
“It puts control of our future direction, strategy and even foreign policy squarely into the hands of the EU. This is in any case unnecessary because our defence relationship with EU member states should instead be conducted via NATO. The EU has declared defence autonomy from NATO.

“UK ministers consented to defence union agreements after the Brexit vote and we were told that it was because the UK would have no part in them. Yet the government is now allowing these gradual and erosive commitments to the EU to stand. It means a hollowing out of UK Parliamentary authority over UK defence particularly BY STEALTH where defence procurement and the collective ownership of assets are concerned. The EU has put in place policy which dictates that collectively-owned assets on land, air, sea and space are also subject collective policy. The collective nature of defence assets and policy is at present only conceptual but it is agreed and is timetabled to be vast within just a few years.” – Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British Forces, Afghanistan

We in the Campaign for an Independent Britain will seek to work with organisations like Veterans for Brtiain in opposition to these plans to lock us into the EU’s defence agenda after Brexit.  IN this area, Brexit must be as “hard” as possible.

A few thoughts on a future UK Defence policy post- Brexit

People are asking a number of questions about UK defence policy, including its priorities, the amount of funding and if the approach is right for current and future needs. Some of the questions asked include:-

  • Has defence spending been affected by the EU “White Elephant”virus, e.g. like huge nuclear power stations and HS2?
  • Why were 2 huge carriers built at a cost of £6.2bn built when there aren’t enough patrol boats for the UK coast?
  • Why are troop numbers being reduced when more are urgently needed?
  • Why is so much being spent on huge new nuclear submarines, which are not used?
  • Is the procurement of expensive equipment being used to buy votes in elections?  – and at the expense of defence capability?

The defence budget currently amounts to £45bn. I believe it cold be spent in a more effective manner. Let us start by looking at current trends and recent events.

Recent events:

  • Afghanistan, Iraq: High altitude precision bombing – no aerial combat
  • Troops on the ground – insufficient to win the peace, relying on US troops, who are not natural country builders
  • Mediterranean: Massive influx of illegal people across the sea into Europe– hopeless response
  • The decline in the numbers of UK combat aircraft: 2006 = 220, 2015 = 149
  • The decline in the total number of UK Troops: 1990 = 120,000, 2017 = 80,000

Areas needing defence capability now:

  • Humanitarian aid
  • Natural disasters
  • Smuggling (all types)
  • Piracy.

Are these concerns being addressed by current defence spending?

During the Cold War, up to 6% of GDP was spent on defence. It is now down to 2% – currently £45bn. It includes the following:-

  • New large Trident submarines – 4, £31bn (£7bn each) with £10bn contingency for overruns
  • New F35, approximate cost £100m to £150m each, 17 ordered already, total expected to be 138, total over £13.8bn
  • New Wildcat helicopters – £26m each, 28 in total
  • New Destroyers: Type 45, current 6 vessels costing £1bn each, speed 35mph, range 7000 miles, more planned
  • Frigates, anti-submarine, type 26: 8 on order, speed 26 knots, range 7000 nmi,
  • Type 31 warships (smaller) : 5 planned to be built
  • New aircraft carriers: 280m (920ft) long, 9 decks, speed 26 knots (30 mph, 49 km/h), range 10,000 miles, troops 250 to 900, crew 769, berths 1600, 40 to 70 aircraft,

It sounds very impressive, but is still a defence cut in real terms. Has our cutting back militarily been a factor behind the Russian annexation of Crimea? – or the refugee influx?  What is more, our defence spending duplicates areas where the American military has similar resources – and vastly more than we  have or are planning to order.

Instead, I am proposing a complementary defence spending approach rather than duplicating the Americans. This would also help developing countries save on their defence spending?

Simpler alternatives – increasing capability

  • Nuclear deterrent: switch to 4 mini submarines, with 2 missiles each, regular 8 hour shifts into North Sea, ability to stay at sea for 4 weeks, operating deep enough not to be spotted from the air. Aim to construct these for £250m to £500m each, saving £29bn in procurement spending
  • Develop an increased ground launched missile capability
  • Develop air launched cruise missiles as well. These would cost around £1.5m each, with a speed of 550 mph and a range of 1550 miles
  • Improve ABM (Anti Ballistic Missile) capability

Total saving with this revised missile programme would be around £25bn

  • Order no more F35s, saving £13.8bn
  • Buy Hawk planes (lightweight fighter) carry up to 3000kg (6600lb), speed 638 mph, range 383 mi (617 km), see if a short take off version can be built – for aircraft carriers, £18 million each, buy 300 Hawks, approximate cost £6bn
  • Buy an additional 50 Wildcat helicopters at a total cost of £1.4bn
  • Buy simplified aircraft carriers, 10 or more. Adopt a creative approach in the specification and leave off the bells and whistles. The vessels should be fast and able to carry 20 aircraft. Ideally, these should cost no more that £250m a piece. Start with answer: flight deck length and width to withstand combat aircraft landing, room for 20 aircraft, crew, up to 200 personnel – troops and/or civilians, lightweight. Blue sky thinking: 4 to 6 hydrofoils, holding up a lattice network of beams, supporting a landing deck and 1 deck for aircraft, speeds up to 70mph (110 km/h), with defensive armaments, and redundancy built in in case of attack. Usual catapult and also arresting wires. There are many other ideas which could be explored here.

Total cost £2.5bn

  • Patrol boats, hydrofoil: 20 fast hydrofoils with armaments, £10m each. Total £200m
  • Landing craft – to deal with the problem of illegals
  • Buy more new Tornadoes (£30m each), new Harriers (£30m each), Jaguars (£15m each) Chinook £15m each) Apache (£15m each). Perhaps turboprop planes for troop transport. Let the Americans buy F35s.
  • Troops: We currently have 80,000 plus 35,000 reservists. We should be aiming for 200,000 troops plus reservists.

Military spending among developing countries is high, e.g. Africa $40bn (Approx £35bn) a year. These valuable funds could be better used for schools, health, transport and the environment. Perhaps the UK could use the increase in aircraft and troops to offer – as a part of overseas aid – help with defence, so that developing country funds can be redirected to more useful ways in building their economies?

In summary

  • Cancelling: 120 more new F35 aircraft purchases, cancelling the new Trident submarine order. Saving £38bn.
  • Buying: 300 Hawk aircraft, 4 mini submarines, increasing full time troop numbers from 80,000 to 200,000, trialling new ideas for lighter and faster aircraft carriers, new fast patrol boats and hydrofoils.

The EU model of wasting funds on useless projects is not a good role model for UK or even European defence. With Brexit, we have an opportunity to liberate the UK from the EU way of thinking and develop a more effective defence capability.

The aim of this article is to highlight possible new ways to approach defence spending which are useful and have an immediate use in the wider world. Copying what the Americans can do with a bigger budget has left huge gaps in our defence capability. The UK’s expertise of winning the war and the peace has been compromised. A more practical approach to defence spending and simpler engineering, can make an improvement both to our own defence and also to our capacity to offer humanitarian assistance.

Hugo van Randwyck

 

Photo by grobertson4

Five concerns for the UK arising from the EU Defence Union

By David Banks. With thanks to The Bruges group on whose website this appeared previously.

There are five main areas which the EU has been pursuing in order to establish what it calls an ‘EU Defence Union’ across the 28 EU countries, including the UK.

  1. Procurement policy and incentives
  2. Finance
  3. Intelligence, Battlegroups and PESCO
  4. UK defeat over HQ
  5. Contradicting statements over UK involvement.

Since 23rd June 2016, the UK has made commitments in each of these above areas of defence with no debate in the British Parliament. Each one is described in more detail below:

  1. Procurement policy and incentives

The UK has agreed to…

    More power for the EU to enforce EU-wide tendering in defence contracts

    An expanding remit for the EU over defence industrial strategy and joint-built assets

    An expanding remit for the EU in purchasing and conduct of joint-owned assets

    Incentives for UK defence companies to engage long-term with the developing EU-wide industrial strategy

The only reason the UK is permitted to build its own aircraft carriers is by using an exemption to the EU Procurement Directive. The exemption is known as the security clause (Article 346) and is permitted when a member state feels there is a national security reason to reserve production for its domestic market. The European Commission is tightening application of the clause following a review in 2016 and has gained the consent of member states to do so. (EU Council Conclusions, 14 November 2016)

The EDA and EU Commission have a benchmark of achieving 35% pan-EU equipment procurement.

(EDA Benchmarks)

UK ministers have approved measures that allow the European Defence Agency to have a greater role in standardisation and certification. (EU Council conclusions in Security Defence, 18th May 2017)

These measures would amplify EU influence in the trading conditions of the defence sector and an additional tool for the enforcement of policy. For example, certification and mutual recognition of standards might be used as a barrier to entry to UK exporters in years ahead in the same way that EU ‘standards’ produce a barrier to non-EU exporters in other sectors. Conversely, certification and standards could be used as an incentive for UK manufacturers and policymakers to adhere to EU policy. Either way, the changes bring a measure of additional control to the European Commission.

The EU refers to EU defence industrial strategy as the European Defence Technology and Industrial Base (EDTIB) and has more recently started using the term ‘Single Market for Defence’. With the objective of ‘reducing duplication, the EU intends to integrate this market under coordinated joint projects and an EU-controlled policy environment. The aim is for the resulting combined EU defence industrial strategy to serve the needs of the EU’s ‘new level of ambition’ in a military context.

This above agreement on standardisation and certification is an additional method of directing the integration of the EDTIB beyond the two already mentioned previously: 1. enforcement of the pan-EU Procurement Directive and 2. financial incentives via the European Defence Fund.

The EU Commission could conceivably tell the UK after Brexit that ‘access’ to its newly coordinated ‘Single Market for Defence’ requires adherence to the Procurement Directive. Also, now that UK participation in the European Defence Fund’s imminent incentive programmes is being concluded, UK ‘withdrawal’ could be viewed by the EU as an act that warrants retaliation or requires UK concessions.

  1. Finance

The UK has agreed to…

    The creation of the EU’s first central military budget, the European Defence Fund

    The use of European Investment Bank money (16% UK shareholding) for the European Defence Fund

    The creation of a Cooperative Financial Mechanism (CFM) to augment the European Defence Agency

    The creation of a Coordinated Annual Review of Defence (CARD), a mechanism which sees the EU offer financial incentives for adherence to EU planning over member state defence budgets.

The European Defence Fund will begin with a budget of only a few billion euros, but this money will be dangled in front of policy makers and defence companies to steer them towards joint activity and a policy environment that is under EU authority.

Millions of euros have already been placed into an “unprecedented level of engagement” with defence companies including defence industry conferences in the UK financed by the EU Commission, which started in April (Southampton) and are continuing throughout 2017 (Bournemouth etc).

UK companies are being invited to bid for the first tranche of European Defence Fund money in June 2017, via an EU Commission / EDA programme known as PADR (Preparatory Action for Defence Research). The programme is even being promoted by the UK Defence Solutions Centre, a UK-Government-funded unit which was formed to boost output of UK defence companies.

According to the EU Commission and EEAS, the Cooperative Financial Mechanism “will strengthen the European Defence Agency” as a central EU defence capabilities tool. The mechanism appears to be separate to the European Defence Fund. It is designed to manage member states’ money in a joint budget and will be spent on EDA research projects, military units conjoined under Permanent Structured Cooperation and joint assets.

This added financial firepower for the EDA overrides many years of policy by UK ministers who argued that the EDA’s scope and budget should be restricted. (European Defence Agency ministerial steering board, 18th May 2017)

The UK Government has a 16% (EUR 39 billion) stake in the EIB, the same as Italy, France and Germany (the four largest shareholders). The EU Commission is changing the lending criteria of the EIB to ensure it supports the European Defence Fund. The EIB is an instrument of the EU and operates in adherence to EU policy. There has been no confirmation of whether the UK will withdraw from the EIB, but to remain a shareholder would mean a level of participation in EU policy. The EIB has placed funds into infrastructure projects in the UK including Crossrail and the Manchester Metrolink.

The UK’s consent to EIB funding for UK defence industries provides the EU with additional locks on UK participation in EU defence policy and on its EIB shareholding. These additional locks were made after the UK’s referendum on EU membership and add to the task of unravelling these links after Brexit.

  1. Intelligence, Battlegroups and PESCO

The UK has agreed to…

    An increased size, scope and infrastructure of the EU’s military intelligence agency as a central ‘hub’.

    Participation in a 2019 EU Battlegroup under EU Council control. Approval given pre-referendum. No confirmation from MOD about whether it is cancelled or continuing.

    Drop objections to Permanent Structured Cooperation (first version of permanent military unification) by willing member states. MOD will not confirm whether the UK is staying out or not.

The European External Action Service (the EU’s ‘foreign ministry’) has put forward plans to grow the role of its intelligence agency known as the Single Intelligence Analysis Capacity (SIAC). (EU Council conclusions in Security Defence, 6 March 2017 and 18 May 2017).

SIAC is composed of the EU Military Staff Intelligence Directorate and the ‘civilian’ EU INTCEN. The EU Council agreed to develop them as an EU “hub for strategic information, early warning and comprehensive analysis”.

Member States, including the UK, have been asked to consider initiatives and ways to interact with these plans. (Security and Defence Implementation Plan, 14 November 2016).

The UK was scheduled to lead an EU Battlegroup in Jan-Jun 2019. The MOD will not state whether Britain’s participation will be cancelled or proceed.

The UK has agreed to…

 The reordering of EU agencies to include ‘permanent planning’ of EU defence missions and a ‘coordinated military command chain’.

    The creation of a permanent military HQ with staff responsible for strategy and operations. It was kept as a non-executive function of the EU, but executive power over EU military developments rests with the EU Council and EU Commission.

    Drop its objections to the wordings that describe the new HQ (May 2017) because previous approval in March 2017 had made later objections invalid.

The EU Council, with UK consent, has agreed to reorder the European External Action Service to “develop the necessary structures and capabilities for the permanent planning and conduct of CSDP missions and operations” with “distinct but coordinated civilian and military chains of command”.

These will work under the political control, strategy and leadership of the EU Council’s Political and Security Committee.

(EU Council Conclusions, 14th November 2016, with UK ministerial approval. Confirmed by EU Council heads of government conclusions, 15th December 2016)

The plans include the creation of an operational HQ, the Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC). While the UK made an issue of the MPCC being prevented from having executive powers, this was a pointless fight as the executive power over the MPCC’s deployments already resides with the EU Council.

(EU Council Conclusions, 6th March 2017. Confirmed by EU Council conclusions, 18th May 2017)

  1. Contradicting statements over UK involvement.

The UK has agreed to…

    Participate in measures that apply to UK defence without the approval of Parliament, nor even a debate.

    Participate in developing plans until at least March 2019, possibly March 2022 or even longer.

    Provide the EU with several new powers over UK defence and a new bargaining chip for the EU.

    Accept measures that mean a more complicated and time-consuming withdrawal process that the UK didn’t face before the first of the EU Defence Union agreements in November 2016.

    Provisional statements on PESCO (Permanent Structured Cooperation) while keeping open the prospect of UK participation in PESCO and the EU Council-controlled EU Battlegroups in 2019.

Each time new agreements are made, additional hours will need to be spent on severing EU ties and controls. New agreements are currently being formed in finance, intelligence, regulation, procurement strategy, joint assets, joint missions and research. This will impact upon several departments of government.

The duration of UK involvement might be expected to be until March 2019 (the anticipated end of Britain’s membership) and possibly March 2022 (end of a three-year transition deal which requires adherence to EU policy) and potentially even longer. Until then, even adhering to new EU measures (in finance, intelligence, regulation, procurement strategy, joint assets, joint missions and research) will add complexity to the UK’s exit negotiations, potentially extending the duration of the exit process.

Not a single one of these agreements at the EU Council has ever been mentioned in the House of Commons, let alone subject to a vote by MPs. All defence agreements at the EU Council take the UK further down the road of military integration and have had an immediate effect regarding UK participation. The EU Commission immediately embarked on a dialogue with UK defence companies about incentives to participate in EU defence integration projects.

EU Council conclusions are considered by the EU commission to have been co-authored by UK diplomats. Therefore, if a minister does not raise objection during an EU Council meeting, conclusions are considered to represent a joint direction, or consent, of all member states.

The EU Commission has stated that agreements the UK enters as a member state “must be carried out in full” while the UK remains subject to the EU’s treaties.

In addition, the EU has said it is not willing to even begin to discuss UK withdrawal from EU defence arrangements until a withdrawal agreement has been settled and “all other matters” agreed, because defence is “too important to be a part of the main negotiations”. This means the UK will be obliged to adhere to these rapidly developing measures for at least two years to 2019 and there is a real possibility of the UK being tied in for an additional transition period of three years up to 2022.

The Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan wrote to the European Scrutiny Committee chairman in December 2016 to inform the committee of the plans and agreements the UK was entering, as is required under UK Parliamentary protocols. Sir Alan Duncan told the committee there were parts of the Security and Defence Implementation Plan (SDIP) which his team ‘liked’ and no decision had yet been made over the quantum of UK involvement and for how long. This may be contrasted with the Foreign Secretary’s October and November statements that the UK did not wish to prevent the EU27 from participating in agreements in which the UK had no interest itself in participating.

The European Scrutiny Committee marked Sir Alan Duncan’s letter and corresponding agreements as ‘politically important’ to have them discussed in the relevant Parliamentary Select Committees of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Exiting the EU.

Meanwhile, the EU Commission will know it may now employ all of the UK’s recent set of agreements in defence as a bargaining chip, a threat, a delaying tactic and a deepening ‘binding agent’ to EU membership. It is conceivable that EU officials will cite the example of UK defence companies who have the promise of European Defence Fund money as a means of influencing or undermining perceptions among UK observers or negotiators in the realm of defence.

Finally, an answer we received from the MOD (19th May 2016) said that the British government had not ruled out joining PESCO in spite of its control by EU Council and CSDP:

“Decisions on UK engagement with CSDP after we leave the EU, including with initiatives such as PESCO, will be part of the wider negotiations.”

A UK Rep spokesperson had earlier (18th May 2016) told us the UK might participate in the EU Battlegroups after Brexit, which is also controlled by the EU and CSDP.

Photo by Doppeladler

Germany will never, ever pay more than now for NATO

This post originally appeared in the Raedwald blog. The author lives in Austria but originally hails from Norfolk.

Many of us will have grown up with the BAOR (British Army of the Rhine) – either as serving soldiers or like myself as army brats. There was a time when Gütersloh, Fallingbostel or Sennelager were more familiar to us than Slough, Reading or Peterborough. The BBC even had a forces radio programme, and knowing at least half a dozen BFPO numbers was par for the course. Well, BAOR disappeared without notice in 1994. The 25,000 remaining troops in Germany became BFG, now down to about 4,000 and scheduled to pull out completely by 2020, almost exactly in line with Brexit.

The change came with the fall of the wall in 1989. Before then, our lads were to play a vital role in forming a heroic but utterly pointless sacrifice in holding up the Soviet advance through Germany to France for about 72 hours. Then we all thought it an essential sacrifice. Now we wonder, why bother? Perhaps France and Germany would be better off under Russian rule. Why shed British blood in their defence?

When Trump abstained from the traditional annual G7 offering of American blood in Germany’s defence last week he too must have felt the same. Germany has been financially raping Europe for thirty years, sitting on a vast pile of gold as she threatens, bullies and manoeuvres others to pay for everything, like some nightmare dining partner endlessly disputing the division of the restaurant bill.

Turkey is now a Salafist terrorist nation and belongs nowhere near NATO. In bullying the Netherlands into ignoring the veto of the Dutch people and extending full EU privileges to Ukraine, the EU has just given Putin another poke with a sharp stick. The UK will find it hard to mobilise even 6,500 troops – we need a standing army of 100,000 to put an adequate force in the field. Germany’s armed forces are to all purposes entirely useless. Amidst the ruins of NATO (and oh yes it’s now finished in all but name*) there’s only France to defend the EU.

Merkel may gamble that she’ll get away with it, and perhaps she will. But without British and American wealth and blood to pay for it. We’re done.

*Also proving the rule that corporations are most likely to fail at the point at which they open a spanking glossy new multi-billion dollar HQ

Defence issues – concerns to put to candidates

We have produced questionnaires on the subjects of fisheries and civil liberties which were available for anyone wanting to raise issues with their candidates during the General Election campaign. Although we will not be producing a similar questionnaire on defence issues, there are a number of area of concern, which have been highlighted by Veterans for Britain. These include:-

  • Fears that the UK, on Brexit will still be giving away some of its defence decision-making to the European Union.
  • Fears that the UK may concede any control of its defence policy to the EU to win favour as part of the Brexit negotiations.
  • A concern that the European Commission, despite Brexit, may try to engage directly with UK defence manufacturers to build a common EU defence industry
  • A concern that upon independence, the UK may remain part of an EU Defence Single Market, under the auspices of the EU Defence Fund.
  • A determination that on Brexit, the UK will not be part of a common EU military command structure
Our attention has recently been drawn to an article by David Banks of Veterans for Britain which is well worth reading in full. Mr Banks quotes disturbing evidence that EU-UK military co-operation has actually stepped up since the Brexit vote. With our foreign policy naturally diverging from that of the EU once we leave, this is extremely worrying as the policy being pursued by Michael Fallon seems to be a running down of the UK’s defence autonomy.
With the Conservatives’ lead in the polls dipping, Mrs May could do worse than to give us a clear indication that “Brexit means Brexit” in defence as well as in other areas. We at CIB are receiving all too many comments from people concerned that a Conservative victory means Brexit betrayed. Some reassurance at this critical time would not go amiss.

Photo by 7th Army Training Command

Sorry, Douglas, but you are a bit premature

Douglas Carswell resigned from UKIP last month and now sits as an independent MP. On his resignation, which was announced a matter of days after Mrs May triggered Article 50, he said “It’s a case of job done…..we have achieved what we were established to do.”

In other words, he felt that UKIP had served its purpose – a theme to which he returned yesterday during a speech at an event hosted by the Institute for Government:- “I think we’ve done our job, and I think we should award ourselves a medal, or a knighthood, and take pride that we’ve won….if you’ve won a battle or a war you disband and you go home”.

But is Mr Carswell right in saying that the job is done? Winning the referendum last June against all the odds was an amazing achievement and the triggering of Article 50 last month to begin our divorce from the EU was a truly significant milestone for our country, but there are still hard campaigns to be fought in the next two years if Brexit is truly to be Brexit.

Many readers will be aware of the campaign by Fishing for Leave to  see a swift denunciation of the 1964 London Convention and the exclusion of all CFP-related legislation from the “Great Repeal Bill” so that we will regain control of all our waters once we leave the EU. While there have been a few positive signs that the Government is listening, a long, hard battle will need to be fought if we are to secure a Brexit that truly means Brexit for our fishing industry.

An equally fierce battle will need to be fought to extricate the UK from the European Arrest Warrant. Chief Police Officers support continuing UK participation in this odious scheme and they have the backing of the Home Secretary Amber Rudd. Last month, the Campaign for an Independent Britain hosted a meeting where legal expert Torquil Dick-Erikson highlighted the grave flaws in the EAW and mentioned some of the miscarriages of justice which it has engendered. Thankfully, there is a growing awareness of this issue among Leave-supporting Tory MPs and Peers, but it will not be easy to force Ms Rudd to climb down.

A third critical issue is foreign policy. Our friends in Veterans for Britain are seriously concerned about our being far too closely linked to the EU’s military policy even after Brexit.  On independence, our foreign policy will inevitably diverge from that of the EU. There may well be instances when we will wish to work alongside them, but we need to keep our distance from the European Defence Agency if Brexit is truly to mean Brexit.

If that is not enough, the battle is not won when we have taken the UK out of the EU. The EU needs to be taken out of  many UK citizens, especially young people. Those of us who took part in debates in schools and universities were made all too aware of the damaging effect of years of pro-EU propaganda. Of course, some europhilia among our young people is very shallow and superficial, revolving around the ungrounded fear that Brexit will stop them travelling around Europe. Such concerns can be easily dissipated by older people relating their experiences of inter-railing in the 1960s, years before we joined the EU.

For some, however, their love of the EU goes deeper and will require somewhat more intensive de-programming. A re-vamp of our GCSE history syllabus is essential as so few young people have any knowledge of our development as a nation. This, of course, will be mean challenging the far too prevalent self-loathing mentality which likes to talk about racism and slavery and generally to demean our great country, ignoring our many remarkable achievements over the centuries which prove that we have the capacity to manage our own affairs – and indeed, to run our country much better without the EU’s “help”.

Mr Carswell’s comments were directed primarily towards his former party. While this website is not the place to debate whether his assessment of the state of UKIP is correct or not, we can but hope that he and those who agree with him will resist any temptation to put their feet up as far as the battle for independence is concerned. The referendum result and the triggering of Article 50 were indeed causes for celebration, but the battle for independence is not over yet.