UK must stay away from EU military adventurism
There is no need for this country to agree to any form of continued participation in EU military missions. Cooperation with our European allies does not have to end simply because we are Leaving the EU - however these actions should be taken via NATO and not by an error-prone, bureaucratic European Union
In recent weeks, the complexity of the European Union’s military ambitions has come to the fore, with Member States becoming embroiled within international disputes and heightened tensions, while acting under the command of the EU’s ever-growing military.
At present, the Political Declaration gives scope for the United Kingdom to be tied into these military bodies and organisations. This is something which the Government must firmly reject, ridding ourselves of any accountability to these disputes, or we will face having our reputation tarnished on the world stage.
Recently, the EU approved a military mission in the Mediterranean to block arms imports into Libya. While this is a noble cause - and one the UK supports - the mission passed through the European Parliament, clearly without the presence of any UK MEPs now, meaning there was no scrutiny of the mission from the Continent’s most sophisticated military power on our behalf.
While this could have been anticipated, it didn’t take long for the mission to go wrong, as the French Navy has already had an altercation with Turkish ships off the coast of Libya. This led to an embarrassing spat between the two countries on the July 7th, before France backed down and withdrew from the military operation in full, which has led to Turkey bolstering its claim to be the chief Naval power in the Mediterranean.
The strategic importance of the Mediterranean to the UK is immense. Not only is it home to our overseas territory Gibraltar, but British military and NATO assets are based in our Commonwealth ally, Cyprus.
Maintaining a British presence there is vital. The UK was tasked with defending the southern flank of NATO States out of Cyprus during the Cold War and operated with the same base during the Suez Crisis. They are so important, they are both subject to articles in the Withdrawal Agreement which dictates both overseas territories preserve Customs-Free ports to trade with and maintain unfettered access for the UK.
The EU ratified the Withdrawal Agreement, therefore it must ensure it upholds the commitment to our legally-binding right to freely access these ports and not jeopardise access to these ports through military incompetence - such as the display shown by France.
Hence, it is vital the Mediterranean remains an open hub for the UK’s national security. This isn’t the first time EU missions have destabilised the region. Migrant rescue missions – such as ‘Operation Poseidon’, have also strained Mediterranean diplomacy – again, Turkey was the provocateur.
Turkey has previously turned its back on European States and NATO, proceeding to try and claim sovereignty over Cypriot territory by ramping up its military capabilities on its annexed portion of Cyprus only last week. This is a mentality which is likely to return if the UK allows the negligence of the EU military to undermine our own national security by creating a more emboldened Turkey in the vicinity of our national assets.
Despite the UK not taking part in recent EU missions, including the Libya mission, we have still continued to fund them. These clashes come on top of the already high tensions between EU Member States and Turkey over their desire to continue with offshore gas and oil exploration adjacent to some nearby Greek islands.
Although we must stand with our allies and condemn Turkey’s actions, we cannot allow the advancing EU Army and Defence Policy to bear any resemblance to our own. We will soon be an independent sovereign state, so we must start behaving like one. Where the EU’s military missions operate near our interests, we must ensure we protect those interests - not just from adversaries, but also incompetence by the infant Armed Forces peddled by the Federalists in Brussels.
In news coming out of the Brexit negotiations, the EU’s Chief Brexit Negotiator, Michel Barnier, vented his frustration at the UK, refusing to discuss matters on defence and foreign policy – we must now absolutely insist this is vital as the negotiations come down to the wire.
On another note, the EU could probably have more sway with Turkey if they stopped frivolously funnelling money to the country. Just this week, an additional 500 billion Euros has been committed to Turkey to try and bribe them into stopping refugees crossing into Europe. Maybe it would be a better idea to spend this money on improving the borders of EU Member States – as well as limiting Freedom of Movement!
This Government must guarantee we do not participate in any EU Defence and Security Policy missions. The Political Declaration ensures our future participation in Common Security and Defence missions is on a voluntary basis, but this is not a legally-binding document and further commitments must be made to secure this in the post-Transition period.
The EU has made clear their intention is to agree an ‘unprecedented’ security agreement with the UK to encourage further cooperation to help build up the EU’s military capabilities. However, we need to know the details of this as a matter of urgency – and decide for ourselves if this is what we want to do.
On July 16th the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, asserted the EU has ambitions for increased naval cooperation with India. This is a statement which is laughable! How can the EU encourage naval cooperation with India when there is no EU Navy? In fact, many Brexiteers were laughed out the door when we claimed the EU had its eyes set on military power. We have been proven categorically correct in our predictions. It is undeniable the EU is enhancing military aptitudes – I also wonder who is going to pay for all this?
We really must ensure the UK is distanced from these EU military experiments as clearly so much can go wrong! We cannot allow ourselves to be liable for accountability for the EU’s military ineptitude, nor must we allow their failing foreign policy to inadvertently damage our standing in the world and endanger our national assets.
We can do this by ensuring we Get Britain Out of the European Union in full, as well as removing legal ties to the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy. We should be protecting British assets through our own historically strong Foreign Policy.
There is no need for this country to agree to any form of continued participation in EU military missions. Cooperation with our European allies does not have to end simply because we are Leaving the EU - however these actions should be taken via NATO and not by an error-prone bureaucratic European Union.
Jayne Adye is the Director of the leading grassroots, cross-Party, Eurosceptic campaign Get Britain Out
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