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EU army plan a 'dangerous fantasy' that was hidden from UK before Brexit vote


Boris Johson’s Brexit deal has helped pave the way for a European army but “lots remains to be done”, according to a close ally of French President Emmanuel Macron. French MEP Nathalie Loiseau has told the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA) the UK’s exit from the European Union has cleared the way for “progress” towards greater EU military integration. She argued that Britain had never “valued” moves to craft closer military ties with Brussels but would remain a “key partner” for the bloc in terms of foreign policy and defence going forward.

Prior to Brexit, the UK was linked to a series of EU military structures including the European Defence Fund, Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and the European Defence Agency and Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) which some critics see as the beginning of an EU army.

Regarding the future of the CSDP, Ms Loiseau said: “Brexit in foreign policy, firstly we have to admit in regards to the participation of the UK in CSDP the loss is small. The CSDP was never really something the UK really owned or really valued that much.

“There were few staff or military from the UK in the CSDP missions, they were reluctant towards efforts like European Defence Fund or PESCO.

“I am pretty certain that we have made progress on European defence because the UK was leaving the European Union but there is a lot that remains to be done.”

Brussels’ path towards a single military force is definitely smoother now that Britain has said goodbye to the bloc.

London has always been opposed to the idea and even vetoed several proposals while still a member.

For this reason, in 2016, Brussels tried to keep detailed plans that could have paved the way for an EU army – the establishment of EU military headquarters and other operational structures – secret until after the referendum.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said at the time: “We will never be part of an EU army.

“We retain a veto on all defence matters in the EU and we will oppose any measures which would undermine member states’ military forces.”

Officials kept the Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy under lock and key and those working on them were only allowed to make hand written notes while reviewing the material in a specific room.

They had to leave all phones and computers outside but diplomats’ notes ended up being leaked.

Extracts from the proposals seen by the Times revealed diplomats insisted “security and defence was where a step change was most urgent” in the EU.

Germany was apparently one of the main supporters.

The spokesman of former EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the plans “in no way aimed to set up the EU army”.

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However, according to former International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, the leaks made clear the EU was wedded to the “dangerous fantasy” of creating a single defence force.

He told the Telegraph: “Those of us who have always warned about Europe’s defence ambitions have always been told not to worry, but step-by-step that ever closer union is becoming a reality. We cannot afford to be conned in this referendum as we were conned in 1975.

“The best way to protect ourselves is to stay close to the US. The US defence budget is bigger than the next 11 countries in the world put together. Europe’s defence intentions are a dangerous fantasy and risk cutting us off from our closest and most powerful ally.

“We’re always told not to worry about the next integration and then it happens. We’ve been too often conned before and we must not be conned again.”

Andrew Bridgen, the Tory MP for North West Leicestershire, added: “This is the way the EU operates.

“The people were deceived about the aims of the EU in 1975 and they’re being deceived again today. For the security of our country we must vote to leave the EU.

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“This blows out of the water the Prime Minister’s claim that we’re being excluded from ever closer union. Voters are being hoodwinked once again.”

In an effort to avoid derailing Prime Minister David Cameron’s Remain campaign, the policy plans were sent to national governments the day after Britons voted to leave.

Proposals for a fully-fledged EU military headquarters were later dropped.

However, in 2019, Germany and the Netherlands activated 414 Tank Battalion, the first that included soldiers from two EU countries.

The battalion was created because Germany did not have enough soldiers, while the Netherlands lacked tank capability.

This was described as a step towards a European army.


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