(07/02/2020) Sounds good - but whose course?
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has been updating the Atlantic Council in Washington DC - but has he ever updated our own MPs in Parliament . . ?
UK Column (as ever) has the story - they cover a lot of ground and ask relevant questions, but it seems that our MPs are still very much not in the loop on Defence matters. So the big question is: who exactly is in the loop?
You can try out the Facts4EU Brexit Index for free!
(23/01/2020) UK Column analyses the conundrum that is the current UK Defence Policy under Boris. With our armed forces currently run down to the point where it is hard to see how they could even defend our fishing waters from an unduly persistent EU fishing fleet, where will the post Brexit cards fall on Defence?
Murky waters indeed!
(08/01/2020) Independence Daily publishes another hypothesis about the timing of the EU referendum in relation to the kicking off of the EU Defence Union project (hint: immediately following the referendum). Is there no idea too cynical for our politicians to try on? We continue to watch this space.
(07/01/2020) UK Column reviews (amongst other items) topical defence matters:
(16/12/2019) So post-election, what does the future hold for our armed forces and defence institutions? Adrian Hill writing for Briefings for Brexit examines the options. Until now it would seem that our Government has been publicly supporting the line that NATO is the cornerstone of our defence strategy, yet actions behind the scenes have occasionally broken surface to indicate our on-going realignment with EU Defence Union schemes, so this article is very timely. Will our new Government clarify intentions any time soon?
It's worth repeating here that Mrs May in her speech in Florence stated that she would be offering a comprehensive framework unprecedented in breadth and depth with the EU covering diplomacy defence and security and that the UK would be unconditionally committed to maintaining Europe's security.
(07/12/2019) ... as reported by UK Column:
Our armed forces and defence industry (not to mention our ability to defend ourselves and our borders) are at stake here, so rose-tinted spectacles are emphatically not required! Read more here.
(29/11/2019) Is the scene is set for the EU empire to take over from NATO . . ? Some thought-provoking analysis from UK Column today.
(27/11/2019) UK Column tells it like it is - where are our mainstream media ???
(04/11/2019) Whilst PESCO is founded on the Lisbon Treaty, the EI2 is "based on a letter of intent". As ever, UK Column has the details here.
"A French-led initiative set out by President Macron in September 2017 as part of his vision for a 'sovereign, united and democratic Europe'" - intriguingly described as "a common European
intervention force and a common doctrine for action, independent of the European Union".
Surely this isn't set up merely to allow the newly "independent" UK to participate in military matters European outside the NATO & EU umbrellas?
As with all matters military concerning Europe, it seems that this initiative has been going for a while (since 2017), with UK participations as a "founding member" but without any mention of the project in the UK media. I wonder how many MPs are aware?
Do European military matters need this additional layer of obfuscation and confusion, and if so, to what purpose?
(06/10/2019) Boris says he is taking us out of the EU by 31st October, so presumably we will also be leaving the EU Defence Union?
In the House last week he was asked whether, if we leave without a deal on 31st October, there would be any adverse effect on any UK-European defence collaboration especially in the fields of procurement, manufacturing, and wider operations?
He replied that we are proceeding with huge collaborations across the front with our European friends and he had no reason to believe that any of them would be interrupted.
How that is supposed to work is yet to be revealed, but I suspect we won't be leaving the European Arrest Warrant any time soon.
(25/09/2019) This video was published on 20th Sept by Veterans for Britain - my apologies for not posting sooner.
(22/09/2019) His message was directed loud and clear at MPs in the UK House of Commons - but somehow none of them seem to be interested in this topic?
This video is courtesy of UK Column - other matters of interest follow, if you wish to continue viewing.
(10/09/2019) Under cover of the dazzling gyrations of our remainers in Parliament, Lord James of Blackheath made an intervention
in the House of Lords recently to ask about our plans for involvement in EU Defence Union - a highly relevant topic one might think in current circumstances.
If we lose control over our armed forces, nuclear deterrent, and intelligence agencies, then we lose control over our foreign policy, we lose control of our borders and we will have nests of not necessarily friendly spies at MI5 MI6 and GCHQ. We may even lose control of our police, since EU Defence Union includes civilian security agencies, according to the new High Representative Ursula Von der Leyen:
“First of all, just two or three weeks ago, for the first time, we were able to give the green light for a European command capacity in Brussels. That is the first time that military and civil instruments would be commanded together, where these commands would actually come from one single command office.
“This is a major step forward. It was unthinkable a short while ago, but it's precisely the right approach to have if we want a European flavour to our defence policy.” (my emphasis)
What "European flavour" might that be?
Reportedly Lord James was interrupted by Lord Blunkett, whose intervention could be interpreted as a veiled threat that he should say no more. There is more.
Is this what our Lordships have sunk to? Seemingly barely a day goes by without some new depth of "honourable" parliamentary behaviour being plumbed. The silence from the MSM and Parliament on this topic is now deafening.
It is hard to be confident that Boris if "successful" in "leaving the EU" on 31st Oct will unpick these arrangements, since it was he (as Theresa's Foreign Secretary) that was responsible for overseeing our "negotiations" for setting up EU Defence Union in the aftermath of the referendum vote . . . (let that sink in).
Will we need to prepare ourselves for another long struggle against the giant squid of the EU, "leave" or not?
BTW: I'm offering a prize of a bottle of British Bubbly for the first person to draw my attention to a public pronouncement by the Brexit Party on EU Defence Union . . .
(06/09/2019) Now that Boris
is (sorry) was (before the HoC under Speaker Bercow bent the rules again to highjack the process) in charge of Brexit, he has seemed to some to be facing two ways at once: to the UK public he has stated
that the Mrs May "Withdrawal" Agreement (AKA surrender document) is dead, and to the EU he has been demanding removal of the legendary "Irish backstop", the implication being that the WA could be resurrected if that was removed.
Well, which is it?
This matters, because the WA includes a commitment to the Political Declaration concerning the parameters within which the deal on our post-Brexit relationship with the EU will subsequently be negotiated.
Brexit Central explains how this Political Declaration effectively hands control of our armed forces and security organisations (GCHQ etc) lock stock and barrel over to the EU.
"Three principal parts of the exit arrangements, contained in the Political Declaration, would immediately extinguish our defence autonomy and with it, one of the essential attributes of national sovereignty. We would be walking into a swamp from which it would be all but impossible to escape. Additionally, the legal knotweed which accompanies these three structures . . . makes the political burden and attachment even deeper."
"My colleagues and I took more than three months to piece it together while new linking structures were being announced on a gradual, staggered basis. This has meant working through more than a quarter of a million words across more than 15 texts and agreements."
(07/08/2019) ... bringing together leading parliamentarians and security and defence experts from both countries to discuss the most salient threats to European security.
As we know, one of the pillars of the nascent European Defence Union is bilateral agreements between member nations, so to find out what is actually going on one really should read all the various bilateral agreements that are being set up between all the 26/27 member states (if you can enumerate all of these let alone read them then I suspect you have too much time on your hands!) - am I alone in thinking that this doesn't exactly support transparency of these arrangements?
As far as I know Prime Minister Johnson has not as yet pronounced on the future relationship between the UK and the EU in respect of EU Defence Union (and in fairness he has much else on his plate at the moment so unless he wants to add to his controversial to-do list he has probably nothing to gain just now by opening discussions on the existing UK-EU Defence Union track that he as foreign minister was instrumental in setting up under Mrs May).
Matters seem however to be moving forward, without any significant reporting in the mainstream.
There is plenty more on the RUSI web-site for those interested in Defence and Security matters, just follow the link above.
(11/06/2019) Two months on from the entry below and still our mainstream media seem to have a lid firmly applied to ensure that no information about our signing up to full EU Military Union should by any mischance leak out into the public domain. Full marks therefore to the Campaign for an Independent Britain for once more plugging this deficit as best they may with this article. If modern wars are fought by stealth then our Government is a master of the technique - if only they were fighting for the UK and not the EU!
(27/04/2019) Veterans for Britain highlight the give-away of our armed forces (show magnified text) to EU Defence (=Military) Union in Mrs May's so-called EU Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration. These call for "UK participation to the extent possible under EU law in the European Defence Fund, PESCO, and the European Defence Agency".
To my knowledge we have signed up already to everything except PESCO (Permanent Structured Cooperation) but that will change the moment that Mrs May's so-called Withdrawal Deal is passed by Parliament.
UK Column devote their Friday (26/04) news programme to what is going on behind the scenes that nobody wants to acknowledge in public (starting with an intriguing tweet from "the Donald" - watch this space!):
(18/04/2019) "Scandal as veteran reveals deliberate Government/EU sabotage of UK Armed Forces".
Those of you who have been following the give-away of UK forces to the EU's military union on UK Column will not be surprised by this report - perhaps the only surprise is how long people have taken to wake up to the enormity of the betrayal that has and is still being perpetrated by our own political elite.
The Bruges Group have also recognised the threat to our independence from Mrs May's non-withdrawal deal.
(28/01/2019 Veterans for Britain are highlighting the Defence giveaway to the EU which is quietly under way under cover of the current shenanigans in Parliament.
A step too far for Intelligence sharing and much else besides. At a time when we are
supposed to be leaving the EU, why are we signing treaties that bind us as deeply into the new EU Military Union arrangements as if we had not left - will we indeed have left?
Participation in the EU's Defence Procurement arrangements will compel the UK to put all defence procurement contracts out to tender through the EU's defence procurement processes, regardless of the effect on our domestic defence industry (there are a few exemptions, whose applicability will no doubt be determined by the EU). Will we shortly see British defence companies merging with their European rivals in order to simply stay in business?
VfB explain how the timing of the signing of the Defence treaty might have been designed to keep Parliament from having any say in the matter.
(22/01/2019) We are indebted to UK Column for this snapshot of "our" First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones KCB ADC surrounded by senior officers, seemingly taken in a British military establishment (complete with painting including Mrs Thatcher!).
Oh, and two EU flags and superfluous red arrows.
Has EU Military Union arrived without anyone noticing?
EU defence procurement seems to be on a roll with BAE Systems ceding a controlling stake in a military vehicles joint venture to Rheinmetall of Germany, which is also extending its interests with a possible take-over of a Franco-German joint venture tank maker. The EU defence procurement landscape may already be on the move.
Now we do have to be careful not to read too much into a single photo opportunity, but if we consider this in the context of the run-down of the Royal Navy, the recent treaty with Germany on Defence Cooperation, and our existing close institutional ties with the French military under the charitable auspices of the Franco British Council, it all seems to point in the same direction.
France and Germany are leading members of the EU and are both fully committed to PESCO and the full EU military nine yards - to imply that joint treaties covering our military cooperation with these states are unrelated to EU military union is to fly in the face of reality.
(02/12/2018) A study undertake by the IISS in collaboration with DGAP concludes that without the UK, the EU's nascent military "is likely to face extensive capability shortfalls". No wonder they are so keen for our continuing participation "post-Brexit".
The question that we need to ask is why Theresa May is so determined to place our defence assets manpower and defence budget contributions (not to mention the future of our defence industries) under the effective control of the EU, whilst apparently happy to retain no say in how the EU will deploy its/our military. So why has she placed this bargaining chip beyond use in our so-called Brexit negotiations? Maybe it was just another capitulation, kept "under the radar" as part not of the Brexit negotiations but of our deep and special defence relationship. Or give-away if you prefer.
(22/11/2018) Professor Prins' latest article for Veterans for Britain underlines the betrayal of our nation by our government, which it is now crystal clear wants nothing more than to be firmly embedded within the EU, whilst vainly asserting that they are "delivering Brexit". They are right in one sense - they are delivering it to the EU, gift-wrapped with our armed forces and security services, and an extra dollop of £39 billion as the cherry on top.
For the full sorry story see this time-line from UK Column independent multimedia news web-site.
(28/10/2018) UK Column offer their view of the current state of the reshaping of the armed forces of the EU nations (including the UK) into the nascent EU Armed Forces. So much for Brexit. So much for the Conservative Party. So much for our future outside the EU - we will not exist as an independent nation as we will be dependent upon the EU for our military operations.
Is it any surprise that our politicians continue to obsess about Brexit matters economic whilst never mentioning the elephant in the room?
Elsewhere we read that the M.o.D. has postponed an armed forces pay increase (recommended in part to improve the issue of low morale) due to the payroll system being allegedly inadequate to the task. That should fix the morale problem then . . .
Is it unreasonable to wonder how the M.o.D. manages to oversee so many blunders? Perhaps it has had too much practice to change its ways now. Helpfully the National Audit Office produced a short guide in 2015 - perhaps it is suffering from reform overload in a vain attempt to match slow-moving equiment procurement programs to fast-changing priorities.
(05/09/2018) UK forces sporting EU armbands disembark from RAF aircraft - under EUFOR control. Note that EUFOR was previously known as IFOR / SFOR under NATO command - now known as EUFOR under EU command. We are now providing the EU's army. NATO is dying - Long Live EUFOR?
Veterans for Britain comment here.
VfB are a useful source of accessible information both on the EU's push for its own armed forces and for the UK's apparent willingness to become fully enmeshed in these plans "despite Brexit".
Whilst their published documents are perhaps not yet as up-to-date as we might like, it has to be acknowledged that the complexities of EU policy in-the-making are notoriously complex and difficult to assess as an operational whole.
In March 2018 VfB published their take on the likely effect of the Draft Exit Agreement on Defence as agreed by David Davis and Michel Barnier. Some of us might believe that the fact that agreement was reached so amicably tells us all we need to know, but VfB's analysis is recommended reading.
See also Dr Lee Rotherham's more recent presentation to the CIB.
VfB have also published a useful "Action Plan Factsheet" (albeit a year old now) which covers the basics on the financial planning assumptions that the EU is working towards. Notable is the insistence that "duplication" (ie: national procurement from national suppliers) should be overtaken by using the EDA ( European Defence Fund) to steer EU defence spending towards chosen defence suppliers working in cooperation with each other on EU defence projects. Whilst this might bring down costs by removing "duplication" it would also seriously reduce competition in the defence market, replacing competition based on price functionality delivery etc for competition for the ear of the relevant EU defence procurement sub-committee.
Not seen this in the UK press?
The Eurocorps website shows what is really going on with the "EU Army", and how it will provide the EU contribution to the NATO Alliance. No mention of UK forces ... yet. A key point is that this is not a collection of units from individual countries. The Eurocorps units of mixed nationalities will owe their allegiance not to their own country but to the EU.
The House of Commons Library houses a research briefing (January 2018) entitled "European Defence: where is it heading?". It seems entirely vague about the UK's involvement - we seem unable to move beyond our support for EU PESCO and related initiatives and to address the role of our armed forces post Brexit. It seems to me that the allegiance of our armed forces is critical to this debate - how may their allegiance to our Monarchy be reconciled with taking their orders from the EU, which will unarguably become a foreign power after we leave?
In this context Mrs May's promise of unconditional support for EU security and cooperation sits extremely uneasily with ongoing developments and it may not be surprising that no announcements about our defence relationship with the EU are to hand at present.
This debate needs to be held in public, meanwhile the Franco British Council is hosting defence talks with France (who as members are not independent of the EU) behind closed doors.
More information here.
PESCO (Permanent Structured Cooperation) is the EU initiative to create EU armed forces, drawn from the nation states but commanded directly by a group of EU committees.
Our Tory Government has been quietly working with the EU on this project ever since the EU referendum and apparently regardless of the resulting vote to leave (no, I haven't seen this reported by the BBC either).
For the history of this project, see the UKColumn web-site here.
For an up-date as at 13th Nov 2017 watch this revealing UKC News report.
As at 16th November the UK has after all NOT yet actually signed up to the whole PESCO nine yards but read this fascinating UKC report on the UK's involvement in EU defence initiatives over the past year - the door remains open for the government to sign up to PESCO at any time in the future (or even simply to participate in reality without actually applying ink to paper).
But surely on a matter as vital to the nation as defence, Parliament will need to be consulted before we could possible consider signing up for PESCO...?
We should note that the Government is technically within its rights to sign new treaties with the EU under the Royal Prerogative without getting Parliamentary approval . . . and it is noteworthy that according to Veterans for Britain our MPs may not have been particularly diligent in holding the Government to account on defence matters (but see the section on the recent Defence Select Committee session below).
In any event it is perfectly possible for the UK government to commit what remains of our forces to the EU command structure under the guise of supporting our NATO partners, since NATO and the "EU army" are seemingly moving closer together. PESCO is simply a signature on a bit of paper that would merely provide formal confirmation of the arrangement.
The fact that PESCO Is even being considered (let alone virtually fully supported) at exactly the time when we are supposed to be leaving the EU tells us all we need to know about the "Brexit" towards which Mrs May is guiding us.
The session on 14th November 2017 at which the committee questioned witnesses General Sir Richard Barrons (rtd), Admiral SIr George Zambellas (rtd) and Air Marshal Sir Baz North (rtd), to throw light upon the National Security Capabilities Review into the state of our armed forces.
It's quite a long session, notable for the outspoken views expressed by the witnesses. If you have an interest in defence, this is essential viewing; follow this link.
The web-site German-Foreign-Policy.com (German News Information Services GmbH) reports on the background to PESCO here.
It gives a run-down on Germany's initial involvement, some of the historical competition between Berlin and Paris, and finally the last paragraph headed "Empire Unification through War" which needs to be read for it's insight into how some of the leading people involved see this project (no I have not made this up).