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The Daily Express' delirium tremens over British involvement in European defense projects

(B2) From time to time one must read the popular British press on Europe. It's a moment when you can hesitate between giggles and amazement at so many untruths, bad faith and real lies. The last delivery of Daily Express is an example of this.

Under the title " EU Army outrage as British troops risk being forced into EU defense force after Brexit he launches a ferocious attack on the defense provisions in the Brexit deal. Much of it is completely false.

What does the popular daily say?

“At present, the divorce deal promises to keep the UK linked to a series of EU military structures including the European Defense Fund, the European Defense Agency and Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO). »

“Britain could be forced to pay billions of pounds into EU defense projects and contribute troops and other military assets to Brussels defense units as a result. »

Amazing! On the one hand, the provisions in question – which appear in the political declaration signed with the United Kingdom – still date back almost a year. The specialists ofEuropean Research Group', a ferociously anti-EU think-tank, led by former minister Steve Baker, seem to have just discovered them. On the other hand there is a series of confusions, even false information.

Six confusions or even false information

1° The European Defense Fund, like permanent structured cooperation, are mechanisms rather than structures in the military sense of the term.

2° All these initiatives have a capability impact, not an operational one in itself. This does not result in any provision of troops.

3° Capability projects are not EU projects per se, they are projects initiated, controlled and managed by the Member States.

4° It is still based on voluntary work like all defense initiatives. The UK will always be able to choose to pay.

5° Overall, it is to the advantage of the United Kingdom, and British industry in particular, which could continue to cooperate with European companies, or even benefit from European funding for national projects.

6° It is an express request from the British who are 'rolling on the ground' to keep a foothold in these recently set up initiatives such as the European Defense Fund or permanent structured cooperation, and in the older one of the European Agency defense.

No multi-billion British contribution

As for the bill to pay, we are in the big nonsense. If we took the information at face value, the UK was forced to pay billions of pounds for defense projects, to the ratio of the British weight in GDP it would mean that European defense has a budget of several tens billions of euros per year. We are no longer in the imagination, we are in the lie or even total delirium. If there is a bill to be paid by the United Kingdom for these capability projects, it would be of the order of a few million euros, and not for European projects, but national projects. It is the European budget which contributes to the projects of the Member States and not the reverse.

No military contribution without British sovereign decision

Finally, on the British operational contribution, it is not within the framework of the European Defense Agency that it is exercised, but within the framework of CSDP operations. And again, the decision is made on a 'case by case' basis, on the totally sovereign decision of the United Kingdom (with the information and/or authorization of the British Parliament) and can be withdrawn at any time.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

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).