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The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

Comment: On European Defence by David Banks

The following is comment on recent comments by European Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton, a potential Commission President candidate, regarding Commissioner Breton's calls for an EU carrier strike group and missile defence shield. 

Forgive my long read here on EU defence. It is relevant to the UK and hopefully gives you something useful. Grateful if you'd let me know either way.
This article is interesting because it's not what it looks like.
It looks like an EU zealot yearning for a unified EU military and indulging in crazy dreams.
It isn't that. In reality, that die is already being cast, the unification of EU militaries and military policy is gradually happening.
What is this EU zealot really doing? He is merely sprinkling the air with convenient phrases so that when a change happens towards a more obvious level of EU military unification in 2024/25 it won't be such a surprise to the EU's hapless populations. His phrases also act as an accelerant to the change. Therefore, he is actually reading a script preparing people for what they (the EU institutions) have already decided. The same method of EU preparations took place when they were putting together Pesco, EU Defence Fund, CARD and related structures between 2015 and 2020. "If only we had a, b, c rules and programmes to solve x, y, z (perceived) problems", they would say. Then when they had a, b, c there was then a new set of 'demands', as if they had just been invented, which would say, "hey, if only a, b, c new structures had d, e, f capabilities and powers". Those capabilities and powers would of course arrive and, what a surprise, it's as if a, b, c had been envisaged to work that way from the start which of course they had been. There were sometimes clues to this long-game which would arise in private chats with EEAS officials in Brussels some of which I recorded. (Eg how the new Pesco and EDF together form pillars of a defence 'union', which was not publicly admitted until several months later. Until then, we were supposed to believe they were useful standalone structures.)
The newest structures named here in this article, EDIRPA and ASAP, are EU acts supposedly created as a 'response' to Rus-Ukr. These acts create mechanisms which unify the earliest stages of EU member states' planning on defence procurement. These were coming anyway. There is zero chance, I believe, that the EU will roll back and disband these arrangements after the Ukr conflict is over. They will form part of the ratchet towards
defence industrial and military unification. Military policy and defence industrial policy are linked so beautifully by the EU, it is like viewing a Swiss timepiece. There are levers and cross-cutting incentives and stealthy budget-controlling mechanisms. They serve to place member states into a spiral of ever-increasing joint action at every layer.
The most fundamental way in which the EU links the two areas of military policy and defence industrial policy is to place them both ultimately under Title V Chapter 2 TEU, the part which outlines Common Foreign and Security Policy. (The part which Theresa May would have kept us in and which Starmer/Healey would place us into).
So, as we read here, the EU's current defence budgets stop in 2025. This is also no coincidence, because for nearly 10 years the EU has been talking about 'fully-fledged defence union' by 2025. At present defence union is incremental but they want treaty change to make it fully-fledged. Treaty change next year 2024 and defence will be in the new EU Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) ready to go in 2025. By the way, Germany has taken the same approach (no surprises there): they've planned a big splurge (giving them preeminence militarily) then the splurge ends in 2025.

If we in the UK get to the end of 2024 or early 2025 withoit any serious commitment to EU Defence that will be a major success for us. With MPs and Sunak throwing the next election to Labour, that picture looks uncertain. 

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