Monday 8 February 2010

Greater appitiate for European defence?

Lately there seems to be talk of greater co-operation on defence within the EU, perhaps due to the economic crisis putting pressure on national budgets, and the general unwillingness in Europe to spend money on defence. Greater co-operation on defence between member states could reduce costs and maintain effectiveness, if done properly.

Last week, there was news of a new defence review in the UK recommending closer ties with France in order to bolster its position. That France has been re-integrated back into NATO's command structures has probably helped the recommendation along. How far it will be acted upon is unclear; supporting defence links could help a conservative government repair damaged ties with European partners.

And on the weekend, the German foreign minister, Westerwelle, said that a European army accountable to parliament was the ultimate goal for defence policy in Europe. It's not likely to happen any time soon or to be pursued seriously for a long time, but it is interesting for Westerwelle to say this, as my impression of him was that he favoured a more assertive, separate, German foreign policy. Of course, such a vague future aspiration means that he doesn't actually have to do anything about it, but perhaps it shows a willingness to take on more defence co-operation?

France is likely to be pleased to see the British review recommend closer links, which could feed into stronger wider European links in terms of procurement, and if the opportunity arises to trumpet a new development in European defence, I'm sure Sarkozy will jump at it.


  1. If I remember correctly, what Westerwelle said about a European army is what the German coalition agreement states, but media tend to catch onto things when they are served on a plate, a spoonful at the time.

  2. Defence is essential, but it is saddening that it is the only issue on which the UK will cooperate with the EU.

  3. This direction of evolution is very desirable, but in Europe, everything lasts SO LONG.

  4. I would like to see closer defence co-operation, but I do think it's necessarily a long process, given how sensitive and complex an area it is.

  5. Indeed this is not a big surprise.
    I have prepared a post on a blog I have just opened. This post is dedicated to the German stance on the European army.
    You can find there: