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Alone against all, London blocks the idea of ​​a European HQ (update)

(BRUSSELS2) The Council of Foreign Ministers is due to ratify conclusions on European defense policy and the creation of a control center on Monday. This text was not excessively ambitious and was, on the whole, reasonable. But it at least made it possible to break the impasse, by initiating work on the feasibility of a center for the conduct of EU military operations. In other words, a European military headquarters. This made it possible to respond to the will expressed by several States - in particular those of the Weimar triangle (Germany, France, Poland). The 27 seemed, more or less, in agreement, even if some reluctance was expressed here and there!

British Double Veto

The ace ! The British saw red. We witnessed - says a diplomat - " to an exchange of rare violence. The Brits don't want to hear about anything that looks like a European headquarters. Even the rational argument of possible savings - the OHQ would only bring together a few dozen people and it would make it possible to eliminate the 5 national reserve OHQs - did not receive favorable echoes. London released the heavy weapon and promised to block any conclusion which would go (nearly or by far) towards a reinforcement of the European defense structures ". Even the idea of ​​hosting "favorably"the High Representative's report on the 'main aspects and choices of common foreign and security policy' - which mentions the various options for a European OHQ - did not receive the approval of British diplomats who put their veto on the word.

Discussion until Monday

Discussions are at a standstill. Palaver should take place during the weekend. And the COPS ambassadors should meet again on Monday to try to reach an agreement. But now is not the time for optimism. “As things stand, there is one No and 26 Yes. The United Kingdom is alone against holes. But he doesn't want to hear about negotiation. »

Comment: This British veto is not new. But it has never been expressed so clearly. This attitude thus shows that the illusions of a negotiation with London on this subject are about to fly away. If London is stubborn, it will therefore be necessary to adopt another tactic by using all possible options, including those opened up by the Lisbon Treaty. Today there is no lack of possibilities to circumvent the British veto. We can thus consider that the establishment of the OHQ is an internal organizational measure that the High Representative can decide on. We can also trigger the new formulas provided for by the Treaty, such as enhanced cooperation or permanent structured cooperation. We can also qualify a new OHQ, national, on the initiative of Belgium or Luxembourg, which would be placed… in Brussels within the confines of the Belgian military school (in other words within window reach of the military committee of the EU or the diplomatic service). The various successive battlegroups (in particular that of Weimar) could also use the European or Brussels OHQ… As we can see, legally, materially, there are certain possibilities which did not exist yesterday. London's rearguard fight should not push the Europeans back but, on the contrary, encourage them to move forward. They won't have to worry. The United Kingdom has always played this game with the continent: block everything that can be blocking then join what could be done without them.

(Maj) Despite a meeting with potrons twinks (from 7:30 am!), the ambassadors of the COPS did not manage to agree on a compromise acceptable by all. And finally, there were no conclusions to this council. " The opposition of the United Kingdom did not allow to have conclusions acceptable by the other partners around the table, in particular the group of Weimar countries “A European diplomat told 'B2'. So it's gone...

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).