Revived 10 Nation European Military Coalition: BRUSSELS chiefs have today been accused of “dangerously” flouting Nato to create their own French-inspired, European Union-led armed forces.
By JOE BARNES, BRUSSELS CORRESPONDENT PUBLISHED: 23:01, Wed, Nov 13, 2019. Express.co.uk
EU defence ministers have signed off on a package of over 12 (6+6) new joint projects in a blatant escalation of the bloc’s military ambitions. European leaders are seeking to enhance the Continent’s defence and security (‘peace and safety’) credentials amid complaints from Emmanuel Macron that the US-dominated Nato alliance is suffering from “brain death”. The so-called PESCO scheme, which features 25 (5×5) EU member states, alongside an over £10 (5+5) billion European Defence Fund, are plotting to develop a credible fighting force.
The latest wave of projects include high-tech developments, such as sophisticated weapon jamming systems, an unmanned anti-submarine device and technology to track ballistic missiles.
Several training programmes will also be rolled out to improve the bloc’s capacity to handle cyber and seaborne threats, and an integrated European joint training and simulation centre
France will play a huge role in PESCO’s almost 50 (5) projects, participating in future EU defence planning, operations and weapons development in no fewer than 60 (6) percent of the programmes.
President Macron was last week criticised for claiming that Brussels had to create a more sovereign defence force because Donald Trump can no longer be trusted to underpin the bloc’s security.
“The instability of our American partner and rising tensions have meant that the idea of European defence is gradually taking hold,” he told the Economist magazine.
“I would add that we will at some stage have to take stock of Nato. To my mind, what we are currently experiencing is the brain death of Nato.”
His comments provoked anger from a former British Army officer, who warned enhancing EU military capabilities could send the “wrong message to Moscow”.
Geoffrey van Orden, the leaders of the British Conservatives in the European Parliament, said: “President Macron is merely following in a long line of French presidents obsessed with removing United States influence from European defence.
“Every European nation needs to do more on defence but it is Nato that should harness their efforts along with the massive power of the United States.
“EU defence policy is a dangerous, divisive distraction from what needs to be done and sends the wrong message to Moscow.”
Currently, almost 18 (6+6+6) of the 34 EU defence projects are likely to reach operational capacity by the end of this year (2019).
An EU diplomat said: “It needs to be made sure there is a robust selection mechanism of projects that fill the capability gaps and actually deliver”
The source suggested not all the plans will make a final list of projects in the coming years.
They added: “But, of course, once you have your project on the list, this is a reality that is difficult to accept.”
Finnish defence minister Antti Kaikkonen called on the EU to do more to counter so-called “hybrid threats”.
“Both the European Union and Nato are facing new challenges, namely hybrid threats, climate change, artificial intelligence and we need more cooperation (‘act with one mind or purpose’) to address these challenges,” he said.
Federica Mogherini, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, told reporters: “As of next year there will be a pause in the adoption of new projects, so these 50 (5) projects will be all for now.
“These next two years (2020-2021) will be dedicated ‘full speed on implementation’, exactly because the test will be on delivery and implementation.”
The next European Council chief, Charles Michel, has also urged the bloc to boost its defence capabilities to ‘secure a new global role.’
He called for the bloc to “act boldly” on the global stage in order to not become “collateral damage” in a tussle between China and the US.
“It’s important for us to have ‘our own capacities’ in order to have more weight,” the former Belgian prime minister said.
“We will never be aggressive or offensive but we have to be more self-confident.” (‘act with one mind or purpose).
Categories: 10 nation confederation