EU Defense (Doctrine)

David Cameron sounds the (heroic) charge...

(Credit: UK Ministry of Defence)
The British tradition of solidarity with the continent seems to belong to the past... The Tories and David Cameron too? (Credit: UK Ministry of Defense)

(BRUSSELS2) The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, should sound the bugle at the entrance to the European Council which starts this afternoon in Brussels. It’s “no” to Defense Europe. During a surprise visit by British troops to Afghanistan on Monday (December 16), David Cameron said he “ready to block a greater role for the European Union in coordinating defense policy”. At 10 Downing street (the Prime Minister's residence), there are fears “that an EU movement harms NATO”.

Member States in first place, NATO in second 

British officials want to send a clear message: the European Union must not “ interfere » in the field of defense, competence of Member States. And if there is an organization competent to do it, it is NATO and not the EU which must coordinate this policy. “The role of the EU's common security and defense policy, established four years ago, should be based on state action » recalls a British source, close to the Prime Minister, our colleagues the with the BBC. “NATO is the foundation of our collective defense. Any EU action should be complementary, but not duplicate it”. A statement that confirms the paper published by the British in London several weeks ago (details in the Club. Read: NATO the cornerstone, Europe the toe (Lidington)

Comments (Nicolas Gros-Verheyde): Old fantasies and realities

Cameron under pressure. David Cameron's charge appears, above all, as a coup de theater intended for the national scene. For several months, the government has been under pressure from national MPs – both Conservative and Labor – who denounce cuts to the defense budget. The traditionally Eurosceptic fiber of a good part of the electorate does the rest. “ Cameron is held hostage by his tabloid press – confirms to B2 several regulars at European Summit meetings. “Each sentence is "overinterpreted" and gives rise to old fantasies that the British love like: “the Commission will pilot drones” or “José-Manuel Barroso will pilot a fleet in the Mediterranean””. The Prime Minister “is caught in the trap of the debate launched on Europe's skills but also the realities. »

More concrete realities. British industry is, in fact, caught in the same “trap” of budgetary restrictions as its continental counterparts, even if its traditional links with US industry cushion the shock. And the British army is a shadow of its former self. No more than any European army, the Royal Air Force like the Royal Navy will tomorrow be able to carry out an external operation without the help of some (Americans) or others (French and Europeans).

A little fuss. So, for lack of anything better, Cameron shows off. He will be able to discuss each paragraph or certain subjects by displaying “red lines”, as – according to our information – the British ambassador had already done during a reading session of the conclusions. But, barring any surprises, that will be all. The British Prime Minister will be able – after the summit – to boast of having obtained that Europe takes shelter behind NATO. If necessary, one or two mentions of the Atlantic Alliance could be added. While the arrival of AF Rasmussen, the Secretary General of NATO at the European summit – already planned – will be highlighted to demonstrate that NATO's role is safeguarded.

For our part, we will be grateful to David for bringing a little animation to a debate which promised to be gloomy...

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).

One thought on “David Cameron sounds the (heroic) charge..."

  • Federico Yaniz

    The time has come to be serious. If the position of UK is the one copy above it should be clearly stated. We can not afford to continue with this impasse. The CSDP should be defined and implemented if it is needed. In case it is not considered valid by the majority of EU member states we shouldn't continue with this ambiguous situation. We shouldn't play with such a serious thing as Defense.

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