When the debate about the In/Out EU referendum was in full swing, one of the claims made by the leave side was that the EU was planning to create its own army. Additionally, all member states would have to contribute and take part in this planned expansion of defence.
Currently, the EU does not have an army. All EU countries work together regarding matters of military significance. Many people were concerned that the EU would go down this line and that the British army would then be required to operate under an EU flag and not the flag of the Union.
However, this scenario could not happen without the approval of all member states. As a member, the UK could have invoked a veto to the plan. Once the UK is out of the EU, this veto would no longer apply so what are the prospects of the creation of an EU armed forces and how would this affect the UK? Cashfloat a payday loans UK lender looks at how Brexit will affect the propsect of having EU armed forces.
The UK government has never and probably would never support the creation of an EU army. The independence of our own armed forces is sacrosanct. The government thinks that a move such as this could lead to the disintegration of NATO which has been the major cornerstone of defence since the end of the second world war.
At the current time, all military operations are conducted by European states working together. So, for example, if the UK armed forces are considering taking part in operations in Syria, this would be debated and agreed with other EU countries.
The EU does not have an army, so the various member states provide any operation that requires ground forces. However, it is true that member countries would like more co-operation in matters of defence without the requirement of all member’s agreement.
So, before the Brexit vote, there were no concrete plans for the creation of specific EU armed forces.
Cuts To Military Spending In The UK After Brexit?
A leading group of experts has predicted that there could be cuts to military spending after a vote to leave the EU is enacted. It was stated that there would be cuts to the defence budget that could result in an 8% deficit compared with current spending.
The amount of money a country spends on defence is linked to the economic performance of the country. If there was a further deterioration in the economy of the country, this would affect the future of the armed forces in the UK.
The current position of the armed forces in the UK is that it is the strongest in Europe and is vital to NATO. Furthermore, the defence contractors who supply everything from aircraft to uniforms stated that they wanted to remain within the EU. Many thousands of people work within defence building and providing arms and vehicles.
As recently as September, there has been a proposal for closer cooperation between EU member states for military interventions. While denying that this would amount to an EU army, the plan is worrying some officials who see this as the first step to the creation of an EU army.
Europeans are being asked to take a greater degree of responsibility for their defence and not to rely solely on NATO as in the past.
What Will This Mean For The EU?
Discussions have taken place regarding global security. Some of the Heads of European countries want to move forward particularly since their citizens are very concerned with matters of security. This means looking at external threats as well as those withing their own borders.
While not advocating an EU armed forces as such, the EU foreign policy chief has talked openly about building up a better European defence that could be quickly dispatched when a rapid intervention was needed.
She has also mooted the value of a smaller group of states intervening with military action on behalf of the whole group of EU countries. Finally, there is also the option to create a Brussels headquarters which could be used to organise and run the proposed European defence structure.
Although there have been no open discussions about creating an EU army, something or someone will have to fill the gap that will be left when the UK departs. EU members who are in favour of the project will no doubt be pleased that the UK will no longer be able to veto plans for the new army which would have the ability to act ‘autonomously of NATO.’
These plans may soon be pushed to the forefront of European defence policy. The UK will have no say in what happens next. Many people who were doubtful about the claims of the leave side are now considering that maybe they were right.
What this will mean in the long term for the UK and indeed the US is an unknown factor. It could create a division in the long term transatlantic partnership that has been so critical in defending peace since the end of the war.
Some Europeans, notably John-Claude Juncker, have always favoured the creation of an EU army as a way to keep at bay the looming prospect of Russian aggression. Now that the UK is leaving the EU and will no longer have a right to veto the plan, it may well be that a new European force could be created. What this will mean for the future defence of the UK and Europe is anyone’s guess.