Letter to the Telegraph - EU not relevant to Britain’s defence concerns
As sent 23 April 2013
We should be careful not to fall into the trap of confusing our defence interests, in particular our membership of NATO, with our role in the EU (Daily Telegraph, 23 April). For some, the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) is a diversion from NATO commitments, for others it's an excuse to do less. Either way it is unnecessary.
Under the Prime Minister's leadership, Britain is committed to radically reshaping our relationship with the EU. The main purpose of EU defence policy is political - to accelerate European federalism and bolster the EU as a global actor, rather than add value to defence capabilities.
Germany should not now deploy commitment to CSDP as a hostage for support in other areas of Britain's EU policy realignment. For our part, remembering Monnet's 'small steps', we should beware of agreeing apparently innocuous proposals that, in reality, are designed to take forward European integration.
I take some encouragement from the statement of German Defence Minister de Maizière that he no longer wants "an EU army", as it was not so long ago that his colleague, Foreign Minister Westerwelle, stated that "the long term goal is the establishment of a European army under full parliamentary control."
We live in a dangerous and unpredictable world. As soon as the economic situation allows, Britain and other European Allies will need to spend more on defence. We have no doubts about the value of NATO. Others now need to ensure that they play a full role in revitalising the Alliance, both militarily and through political will. This should not be dependent on the EU's defence ambitions, which will eventually lead to a binary Alliance, and further weaken both US commitment and the security of the democracies.
Geoffrey Van Orden MEP (Conservative)
88 Rectory Lane, Chelmsford CM1 1RF