When Jean-Claude Juncker gives the reins of power to incoming EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen in November, he will hand over an array of military departments and offices across the EU institutions.
In this article, we list TWENTY of these departments and offices (along with their logos) and describe how they wield subtle and increasing control over member states’ armed forces as well as defence spending and their military and foreign policy.
Defence has become one of the hottest topics of the EU bureaucratic elite in Brussels, but it is hardly ever talked about in the UK. Many of the EU’s new political, legal and financial structures for defence are new since the 2016 referendum and were sealed in EU Council deals while the UK media’s attention was focused on the exit negotiations or 2017 general election.
We’ve chosen to focus on the insignia of these structures because they are tangible symbols which can’t be denied – not even by the many dishonest fanatics on the pro-EU side of the argument, whether they are in politics, the civil service or parts of the media.
Putting these military insignia together and explaining them as we have done here provides a ‘route-map’ of the EU’s growing defence powers, which Brussels technocrats describe as the ‘EU defence architecture’. We hope it will also help military commentators who have so far been mystified about the subject.
Remember: the UK is involved in all of the defence integration schemes listed below except one, the Permanent Structured Cooperation programme. However, the exit deal, the only one being offered by the EU, would force the UK to join this one too, an additional instrument to rob the UK of its defence decision-making autonomy, but by no means the only one.
For the sake of accuracy, there are two non-integrative schemes listed below which currently operate without UK participation – European Air Transport and the European Tactical Airlift Centre.
Several of the EU’s most prized structures still don’t have formal insignia. It could be that the EU leadership remains uncomfortable about giving these schemes an identity which critics can attack. For example, the EU’s new military HQ known as the MPCC, has no logo, so instead we have used an informal illustration the EU has used in its briefing sheets to describe the MPCC’s position within the EU Defence Architecture. We’ve done the same for the new central military budget known as the European Defence Fund and the budget steering mechanism known as the CARD, which have also appeared in EU graphics absent a formal logo. The Pesco programme, a political treaty which creates joint facilities, is also lacking a badge of its own so we’ve used the EU’s illustrations in the same way. Observers can expect a rash of new logos and mission badges in the next two years to denote the 34 Pesco joint military projects (see below) including a new amphibious tank and a harbour surveillance system.
These are not the only examples of the EU being shy about its military badges – the EU military intelligence unit known as ‘SIAC’ was barely talked about and certainly didn’t have a visual identifier until recently. Its new badge was spotted on presentation slides in a briefing for diplomats in Brussels.
Whitehall authorities are also prone to shyness when it comes to EU military symbols. UK civil servants produced a slew of excuses to explain why British soldiers had been made to wear an EU flag on their arms on an exercise in 2018 (see ‘Missions’ below). MPs were also left in the dark about whether the UK was even participating in several of the structures, including the CARD. MPs have also been persistently misinformed by Whitehall about the consequences of participation in the EU Defence Architecture, including the loss of democratic control from UK Government and Parliament.
Since MPs have failed to understand the individual components of EU Defence, it was inevitable that commentators and media would fail to grasp the effect of the jigsaw as a whole. Meanwhile, senior UK Government staff have been trying to keep us attached.
Still, the likes of the SNP, Lib Dems, Sinn Fein and their friends the remainer MPs in Labour and the Conservatives, who oppose the idea of British democratic autonomy, still try to claim that the EU is not becoming a military entity. This article will be an uncomfortable experience for them. They might want to look away now.
- European Union Military Staff (EUMS)
In a sentence: The military wing of the EU’s foreign policy service.
The EU Military Staff, located in the Kortenberg Building in Brussels, provides military advice to the EU’s defence supremo, Federica Mogherini. Mogherini is also a. the EU’s ‘High Representative’ the EU version of a foreign minister and therefore b. head of the EEAS (European External Action Service, see below); c. head of the European Defence Agency (see below) and a d. vice-president of the EU Commission. In November, Mogherini will be replaced by Josep Borrell of Spain.
- EU Military Committee (EUMC)
In a sentence: The EU’s panel for military chiefs from the member states, tying them into the EU’s military processes.
Like the EUMS, it provides advice to EU defence supremo Mogherini and also oversees the work of the EU Military Staff. Unlike the EU Military Staff, the EU Military Committee is a body of the EU Council. The EUMC provides advice to the Political and Security Committee of the EU Council, a panel of the EU member states’ diplomats.
The EU describes the EUMC and EUMS as parts of the ‘Command Structure’ of the CSDP, or Common Security and Defence Policy (see below). The functioning of the command structure has been augmented recently (2017) by the creation of an EU defence HQ, known as the Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC), described below.
3. SIAC and the EU military intelligence chain
In a sentence: The growing intelligence function of the EU Military Staff, reporting to the EU defence supremo.
The Single Intelligence Analysis Capacity (SIAC) is composed of the EU Defence Intelligence Organisation and the EU Intelligence Analysis Centre (EU IntCen) which processes civilian intelligence.
The SIAC logo above was revealed by an EU intelligence director at a Brussels event for diplomats in December 2018, see photo of his powerpoint presentation. The above command diagram featuring the logo of the EU Defence Intelligence Directorate is found in a document from the European External Action Service, the EU’s foreign service, here at page 10: http://www.eeas.europa.eu/archives/docs/csdp/structures-instruments-agencies/eu-military-staff/images/impetus_springsummer_14.pdf
The EU MS Intelligence Directorate provides early warning and situation assessments to the EUMS. SIAC is part of the European External Action Service (EEAS) and provides information directly to the EU defence supremo Federica Mogherini.
New developments since late 2016 have seen the EU embark on a plan to greatly expand the work of SIAC, making it the central ‘hub’ to the intelligence agencies of the EU member states, harnessing their resource and outputs.
The few UK politicians who have been aware of this development have voiced concern over the prospect that current and future ties to the EU’s growing SIAC would jeopardise the UK’s intelligence relationship with the ‘Five Eyes’ network of the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
The EU is rather more open about the civilian intelligence unit than it is about the military ones, hence it remains rare to see the military units depicted by logos. The civilian EU IntCEN was given a bright new logo in early 2018.
- EU SatCEN Satellite Centre and space programmes newly militarised
In a sentence: Satellite data analysis component of the EU, reporting to the EU defence supremo.
The EU militarised its Galileo and Copernicus programmes as part of its ‘Global Strategy’ of 2016, which was confirmed and ratified in EU Council meetings of the subsequent 12 months.
SatCen is the EU agency which analyses EU satellite data and provides intelligence to the EEAS to support its defence and foreign policy architecture known as Common Security and Defence Policy and Common Foreign and Security Policy (both described below). EU SatCen is supervised by the EU Council’s Political and Security Committee and reports to the EU’s defence supremo Federica Mogherini.
Galileo is the EU’s global navigation project and Copernicus is the EU’s ground observation and monitoring project. Both are created via the European Space Agency. One of the first EU efforts to bring a military dimension to its space capabilities was in 2014, when the European Defence Agency made satellite communications one of its core priorities.
5. EU Common Security and Defence Policy, CSDP
In a sentence: the defence decision-making framework of the EU including missions, structures, finance and political alignment.
CSDP (Common Security and Defence Policy) is the defence policy of the EU, but the phrase is used to describe the whole framework of defence in the EU acquis including political texts, structures, procedures and missions. In the UK, politicians often mistakenly refer to the ambit of CSDP as only the foreign missions. This problem has its roots in the deceptive language of Foreign Office ministers and officials who have responsibility for the UK’s role in CSDP – EU texts place CSDP in the hands of EU member states’ foreign ministries despite its major impact on defence.
CSDP has had an ingress into the capacity of member states to act independently for several years, since the application of Lisbon Treaty items and this has increased dramatically since 2016 when further elements of the Lisbon Treaty were activated, or “maximised” as the EU calls it. CSDP used to be ESDP but rebrand to make it sound more like a joint initiative rather than EU Commission military centralisation which is what it really is.
6. EU European Security and Defence College
In a sentence: An information reinforcement network where member states’ defence colleges are harnessed to promote EU CSDP.
The ESDC is composed of one military college in each of the member states of the EU and a coordinating arm at the European External Action Service in Brussels. Several of the EU institutions and military structures sit on the ESDC in their own right, including EU SatCen mentioned above.
Member colleges are legally bound to promote EU defence policy (CSDP) within their jurisdiction and provide information and training.
The UK arm of the ESDC is the Defence College of the UK, a division of the Ministry of Defence.
This means that when MPs call academics from the Defence College of the UK to give an opinion on CSDP, those academics in fact have a legal obligation to promote the interests of CSDP.
The ESDC also oversees Military Erasmus, the EU exchange network for officers’ to adopt a ‘European strategic culture’.
7. EU Institute for Security Studies
In a sentence: The EU’s in-house think tank for defence, answering to EU defence supremo Federica Mogherini.
Another in-house think tank, the European Political Strategy Centre (EPSC), has been used to publish new details on defence and was the first to reveal graphical illustrations of the EU Defence Union.
Recently, it has developed arguments to combat concerns about the EU’s militarisation and to fight US opposition to EU defence schemes which duplicate and detract from NATO.
Several of its key people use UK academic institutions as a platform for their views. The EU ISS creates geopolitical analysis which is offered as the background and justification for EU militarisation.
8. EU missions
In a sentence: Training, anti-piracy and rescue missions — the EU’s first attempts to organise foreign military ventures.
The EU’s military missions appear to have a dual purpose. In addition to their stated purpose on the ground, they are also a tool for extending EU policy. The politicians who call for ‘More-EU’ regularly cite the missions as proof that the EU can ‘do’ defence.
The concept of the EU missions has grown rapidly from modest training and capacity-building projects into the prospect of a deployable crisis response by the EU BattleGroups under the command of the MPCC. Senior EU figures have suggested that EU-flagged forces could intervene in Africa, the Balkans and Syria. The EU took a major step towards making this a reality with the creation of the EU Peace Fund in 2018/19, a military intervention fund of 10.5 billion euros. The fund allows the EU to be a ‘Global Actor’ and cover the cost of CSDP decisions.
The UK public was incensed last year when British soldiers was spotted wearing the insignia used by EU forces on CSDP deployments (pic).
Prior to this, we had never seen whole groups of British troops deployed wearing the EU flag. On rare occasions, selected specialist officers are reported to have worn the EU flag on training missions and British forces had worn EU mission badges. The EU flag on paras arriving in Bosnia was different for the British public. Commentators and MPs asked why the flag was being used on uniforms when it hadn’t been seen to this extent prior to the 2016 vote to leave the EU. Why did it happen? It only takes one senior EU-fanatic official to initiate a mischievous stunt, but it immediately backfired for them. Rather than showing HM Armed Forces happy under EU political insignia, it caused discomfort and inconvenience for senior MOD staff who had the job of placating an angry public. Media coverage of the event divided on remain vs leave lines, with the most hardline pro-EU commentators attempting to make excuses or downplay the incident.
10. EU BattleGroups
In a sentence: A force held in readiness at the disposal of CSDP bodies in a crisis, currently at roughly brigade size.
Another instrument created to plant the flag of the EU in the realm of military readiness and response. Initially small, the EUBG has for the last few years encouraged member states and populations to accept the the EU as a military player. Decision-making structures and now command structures, such as the MPCC, have grown up around it to fit the purpose of using it at some point in the future. The EUBG has never been used and initially appeared only to serve the purpose of allowing participant nations to exercise together, a function which is already provided by NATO. The EUBG therefore duplicates NATO in that regard even before we consider how it fits into the military crisis response chain the EU has created through recent agreements.
It was proposed quietly in February 2018 that the UK would withdraw from its scheduled leading role in the EU Battlegroups but retain the intention of participating in the future. The revelation was made by an eager and indiscreet Cabinet Office official named Alastair Brockbank who seemed to revel in his unaccustomed status as an assistant to Oliver Robbins. Brockbank made the revelation in front of EU diplomats at an academic event in London. It was a default admission that the UK would be staying under CSDP policy, structures and instruments. This admission was in line with the broader policy surrender Cabinet Office officials were lining up for May’s exit deal, which in effect outsourced defence decision-making to Brussels and the EEAS. Decision-making would be outsourced at a strategic and budgetary level in a way where EU powers could only grow and the UK would be stripped of any right to stop the transfer.
11. EU Global Strategy from the European External Action Service (EEAS)
In a sentence: A foreign and defence strategy, designed to turn the EU into a ‘global actor’ in military issues.
The EU initially planned to announce its Global Strategy in April 2016. This was the intention signalled by EU papers in late 2015.
In April 2016, at the height of the UK’s Brexit referendum, newspapers published German government leaks which revealed that the EU was about to announce a massive new military strategy.
It vindicated many of the fears eurosceptics had been voicing during the referendum, that the EU’s direction of travel, emboldened by the Lisbon Treaty, was careering inexorably towards More Europe in defence. It was obvious as it had been happening every year on a smaller scale, this was their long-planned ramping-up.
The revelations were angrily denied by the EU and the remain campaign. The very existence of the new military strategy was denied by the EU.
Yet FIVE days after referendum day, the EU Global Strategy was announced. It contained the headline details of what the EU was planning, but they weren’t prepared to let ordinary people see the full deals of what they’d shown the German Government back in April. We would have to wait a further 19 weeks for that, when the EU sneaked out the details in a document from EU defence supremo Federica Mogherini called the Security and Defence Implementation Plan (SDIP), which was the defence section of the EU Global Strategy. Until 14 November, it had been unseen except by a few EU insiders, yet that same day it was pushed straight onto the EU Council meeting table for approval. It could not have been a worse offence against democratic accountability by the EU.
There was barely a whisper about it from the UK media as they believed it didn’t involve or affect the departing UK.
There was no contrition from those who had denied the leaked plans advanced the EU’s military powers. No apology from the BBC which had attacked Veterans for Britain during the referendum for flagging up the threat to the UK. The BBC had written an article especially to attack us, based on the opinions of an EU-loyal academic and they had pushed this story several times on social media in the lead up to referendum day.
(We had known the defence arrangements were on their way as the EU had said it was rewriting CSDP in early 2015, in answer to Juncker’s inaugural rallying cry for more EU defence powers in November 2014.)
Since the release of Mogherini’s SDIP in November 2016 here has been almost no coverage of its consequences and numerous confirmatory EU Council meetings in the following year. Nothing, at least, that resembles informed coverage of the broad array of structures, the new ventures into military space, the scale and powers of the budgets.
The BBC’s Andrew Neil did devote half a show to the prospect of new EU defence powers in September 2016 before the contents of the SDIP were known and Norman Smith mentioned it briefly and without reference to the SDIP proposals on a programme in November 2016, but since then the BBC has been silent.
The EU, by contrast, hails the EU Global Strategy including SDIP as a major turning point. By the following January 2017, with several EU Council agreements under her belt, the EU defence supremo Mogherini felt confident enough to declare that the EU had done more on defence in the previous 7 months than it had done in decades. Her spokeswoman Sabrina Bellosi tweeted it from the World Economic Forum (pic below).
What followed was a full scale EU advance through the salient they had created. They might have expected opposition, especially from the departing UK, but when the time came no-one had noticed. One initiative after the other then came out from Mogherini’s European External Action Service (logo below), the EU institution in charge of foreign policy and defence. One ominous declaration described how the EU institutions would conduct a charm offensive with defence companies over soon-to-arrive industrial structures which linked to the political ones they had just sealed in principle. These structures would give them enormous grants and benefits apparently, but of course there’s no mention of the loss of member state autonomy or the loss of UK industrial exclusivity from UK defence contracts – a clever wrecking directive from the EU achieves that and was tightened the same day that the EU announced some of its structures in November 2016. No-one except an insider could possibly have followed the tidal wave of announcements in real time. It took us (Veterans for Britain) months to fully catch up and fully pin down what was going on and the extent to which the UK was involved. We soon realised we were as a country very much involved and our ministers were being wading yet further into the muddy bog on the advice of Whitehall. Scandalous.
It wasn’t long before the EU Commission was hosting an event at a maritime defence industry conference in Southampton. A few months later it emerged that the UK’s defence industry association ADS had issued ‘industry findings’ on these elaborate EU structures to the MOD panel which advised the minister on whether to approve the soon-to-arrive industrial structures. How could any companies have genuinely understood them?
Nonetheless, it rolled on. Then it turns out the MOD panel which advised the minister is actually half composed of defence companies, the ones which have been lobbied and influenced by promises from the EU.
What has happened between then and now (August 2019)? Ministers agreed more stuff at the EU Council up to the summer of 2017, then in September 2017 the Government recommended staying in the whole lot, every bit, before MPs had understood a jot of it. Whose decision was that? The only people who seem to understand EU defence at all are a clutch of civil servants mainly in the Foreign Office and Cabinet Office, plus their ‘advisers’ at ADS.
This is where we still are. The position is unchanged. The UK is still in every major EU defence structure except Pesco but the bizarre Whitehall plan to force us into that on exit still hasn’t been formally quashed or exposed.
12. European Defence Agency (EDA)
In a sentence: EU agency using funds and political powers to combine member states’ defence capabilities and industries.
The European Defence Agency has seen its power expand at an incredible rate under the EU Global Strategy of 2016.
It has a role in all the major EU programmes including Pesco (as secretariat), CARD (as consultative body) and the European Defence Fund (as programme manager).
Previous British Governments attempted to constrain the budget of the European Defence Agency and thought that this would have the effect of limiting the scope of ‘Military EU’. They could not have been more wrong, because the EDA’s powers today reside in its political muscle not its financial muscle.
Since 2016, the EDA’s role on networks and funding schemes means that it is able to lead decision-making and influence spending by the member states with its own planning and the use of grants that are separate from its own treasury but which the EDA controls. In doing so, the EDA masters a magnitude of finance and military resource many multiples its own size and of course does so on behalf of the EU.
Between 2010 and 2013 the Cameron Government came under pressure to leave the EDA. What followed was a long-drawn-out farce. Pro-EU ministers claimed to sympathise with eurosceptics’ concerns but produced their own criticisms which completely missed the point about the militarisation of the EU. Instead, they identified problems in the efficiency of the agency and claimed those were the main problem. Then they produced a description of the EDA as a defence industrial club rather than political platform and issued a list of improvements they would like to see. Lastly, they said the relatively small membership price justified continued UK membership on grounds that efficiency issues (a non-issue) were improving. The Secretary of State for Defence who announced this was none other than Philip Hammond. No-one should be surprised that Whitehall officialdom avoided talking about the growing political powers of an EU agency at the expense of member states including the UK.
The May Government incredibly proposed staying in the European Defence Agency even as ministers agreed new arrangements to expand the EDA’s powers within the spider’s web of new defence integration structures. The proposal in May’s exit deal was to stay in the EDA plus Pesco and the European Defence Fund, with the additional two parallel promises that UK participation would be ‘to the extent possible under EU law’ and ‘subject to the conditions set out in the corresponding EU instruments’. These phrases alone committed the UK to being an EU ruletaker in defence – complete subordination of the UK to CSDP but with the appearance of independence in other areas of government.
Is this deal scrapped? In August 2019, we’re yet to find out.
13. European Air Transport
In a sentence: The EDA’s military transport programme
The UK is not involved in this one.
The European Air Transport agreement was signed in 2011 by 20 participating nations.
Its main objective was to increase the European Union’s airlift capabilities by assessing shortfalls and engineering the integration of military transport fleets.
The result has been a European Air Transport Fleet (logo above) based around a main operating hub at
Although the name doesn’t look military this is an entirely defence-related programme under the control of the EDA CHECK.
The new diplomatic clearances agreement radically changes the way Member States deal with the issue. It allows substantial human and financial resource savings whilst making military transport operations more swift and efficient
Connected to Single European Sky initiative.
Also European Air Transport Fleet
EATF was created in 2012 and is an initiative of EDA. It is designed to improve the airlift provisions in the EU and comprises today 20 EU member states. A joint military airlift capability.
14. SEDE SEcurity and DEfence committee of the EU Parliament
In a sentence: The EU Parliament’s committee on defence and security.
Often calls for the EU Commission, Council and EEAS to ‘do more on defence and security’. MEPs of the pro-EU parties dominate the committee’s senior posts. These MEPs liaise frequently with EEAS and EU Commission officials and the committee provides an air of parliamentary legitimacy for the defence integration ideas of the EU institutions as well as a test bed for messaging.
15. EU Defence
In a sentence: Catch-all name used by the EU to describe all of its projects to exert control over member states’ defence.
For a long time, the EU institutions avoided giving a name to their military integration project. Is it an EU Defence Union? EU Defence or simply ‘CSDP’. Due to the lack of accurate reporting, many people in the UK incorrectly refer to the whole defence development of the EU as ‘Pesco’, which is of course a single platform within the wider unification project.
EU Defence is now commonly used by the EU institutions to describe the acquisition of military powers which has taken place since summer 2016.
The logo above represent the first time the EU has done image-making around what it calls its new status as a ‘hard power actor in the world’.
EU Defence differs from the Lisbon Treaty concept of ‘Common Defence’ which is the final stage, the creation of a unitary EU Armed Forces. This means the final transfer of defence competence from member states to the EU and this stage requires confirmatory referenda in member states. However after several years of ‘EU Defence’, the final change towards a single EU-governed armed forces will be a cosmetic exercise.
16. European Tactical Airlift Centre
In a sentence: A training and coordination centre for European air forces in support of EU-controlled policy and operations.
The UK is not involved in this.
Although it is claimed that the EATC and ETAC are not established at the EU level, both were created through the European Defence Agency, an agency of the EU, and both are designed to support CSDP. They conduct combined training unfortunately outside of NATO equivalent structures. EATC conducts the ‘harmonisation’ of airlift procedures and processes with a goal of assisting the integration objectives of the European Air Transport Fleet, above.
17. Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC)
In a sentence: Standing EU headquarters for foreign missions and operations.
The MPCC, which is marked at the left of this EU graphic in green, has the political power to enact command of EU missions and operations. It sits within the wider ‘EU Military Staff’ (above). Its functions and political powers are also conducted by the EU Military Staff. Initially launched as an HQ for ‘missions’ (for the EU’s three foreign training and anti-piracy missions), the MPCC was later given the power to actually control EU military responses and operations designated as necessary by the EU Council under the advice of the Political and Security Committee and EU Military Staff. It all happened at the stroke of a pen in November 2018, but the change received no coverage in the UK. The UK media didn’t know the change was taking place and apparently didn’t grasp that the UK is involved. To date, the development still has not been reported in mainstream media in the UK, despite its political consequences for the UK if we are kept in the EU Defence Architecture.
It’s not the first time the UK’s media and observers were duped over the MPCC. When the EU was creating the MPCC in 2017, British ministers claimed they had thwarted it when they had not. In fact their claims to have ‘avoided an EU military HQ’ were founded on simply asking the EU to call it by another name, as this Reuters excerpt below from 2017 explains:
The MPCC takes over and significantly expands the functions previously fulfilled by the EU Operations Centres (OpCen). These were shadow military posts which the EU boasted could be activated within 5 days after an EU Council decision to do so.
18. PESCO and projects
In a sentence: Flagship integration framework to join member states’ military capabilities.
Described as the ‘foundation of EU military union’, Pesco currently consists of 34 military integration projects including common logistics, a new amphibious tank, high speed joint military deployments, drone swarm technology and battlefield medical command.
Make no mistake it is a political project and it is very much active. Brussels pundits have attempted to play it down by saying member states have lost faith in it or it is somehow stalling – completely untrue.
It is arguably the most wide-ranging collection of military projects between states anywhere in the world. It uses existing military units and technologies linked to joint funding, joint decisions and joint command
PESCO is the totemic integration project of the EU military landscape. Yet it still doesn’t have a logo. It might be too big a thing to classify in one logo, but we can expect the PESCO projects to each have one in time. Currently, they number 14 but more will be added.
The name appears to have been dreamt up by Europa Union, Germany’s equivalent of the European Movement, in the early 2000s. ‘Permanent cooperation’ was a natural choice because a more honest description of the integration of militaries has long been too sensitive a phrase to use.
It is considered preparatory to a fully unitary EU military known as Common Defence.
It involves the integration of decisions, command chains, finance and planning, but that’s not all. There are additional projects to have member militaries sharing a common logistics hub and field medical capabilities. Then there are the procurement projects, joint military units and an in-the-field energy project. Pesco states also receive a 10% premium from the European Defence Fund for any financial contribution they make towards a Pesco project – a compelling bribe in an age of tight defence budgets.
Countries can technically leave PESCO but it is made so difficult that it would be politically cumbersome to win the internal debate to recoup defence independence.
Countries can also be thrown out if they don’t pull their weight financially and militarily, but with these two topics controlled by other functions eg Coordinated Annual Review on Defence and the EU Military Staff, it’s inconceivable that this would happen short of a full anti-EU revolt.
Juncker’s pet phrase for Pesco is ‘the Sleeping Beauty of the Lisbon Treaty’.
Whitehall has peddled misunderstandings about both the purpose of PESCO and its qualifying criteria. It could be intentional and it’s difficult to believe the grown-ups who attend the same seminars as us could have all received the wrong idea. The false message disseminated in the UK about PESCO as an industrial development club has been carefully centralised and controlled around the Cabinet Office’s Europe Unit.
The EU Commission states that the purpose behind PESCO is cost saving and closer cooperation, but both these things are eminently possible within NATO structures. The real and not-very-secret output of PESCO is the integration of political inputs. The EU doesn’t hide the fact that it wants this and ccrows about the importance of PESCO in its aim of eventual Common Defence.
Common Defence requires referenda and parliamentary decisions in member states which is why the EU needs five years of PESCO-led integration, preparation and promotion under its belt before it tries to clear those hurdles in 2023-24. The memory and optics of 2017-18 will be very important. The EU has abundant video clips of Mogherini emotionally holding aloft the PESCO agreement and Tusk saluting and greeting soldiers under an EU flag.
Equally important was the effort by pro-EU leaders of neutral countries to downplay the relevance of PESCO to their historic independence. The leaders of Ireland, Finland, Sweden and Austria all succeeded in pushing through their approval as ‘cooperation’ and somehow even as ‘no loss of decision making’.
However, minority parties in Ireland and Finland have placed a marker of opposition.
The UK stayed out of PESCO in the midst of outrage about prospects of joining back in October and November 2017. The UK has joined everything else and even become involved in trials so there was every expectation of the UK joining this merger. There were vehement denials that the UK would be involved at the time, but fast forward just eight months and remainers spotted their opportunity with the giveaway Chequers Plan. When the Chequers Plan was published in July, it showed that the Cabinet had railroaded a proposal to be involved in EU defence industry projects ‘through PESCO’. There is no halfway house, you’re either all in PESCO or all out and it requires compliance with the complete EU defence rulebook, as well as directives, policies, finance and structures.
We can expect a rash of new logos and mission badges in the next two years to denote the 34 Pesco joint military projects (see below) including a new amphibious tank and a harbour surveillance system.
19. European Defence Fund
In a sentence: The EU using member state funds to bribe member states into following EU programmes and policies.
The European Defence Fund received final consent in 2019 and its concept and adjoining policy machinery were incrementally approved between November 2016 when it was first proposed as part of the European Defence Action Plan and EU Council meetings of late 2018.
It is a means for the EU to gain cash from member states in order to then return that cash as an incentive for developing military capabilities under EU auspices.
The EU calls this “a way for member states to spend together better”. However, the EU’s claims that the fund will create efficiencies are uncosted and its associated policy power-grab are habitually concealed.
The European Defence Fund has a research window known as EDRP (European Defence Research Programmme) and a ‘capabilities’ aka purchasing window known as EDIDP (European Defence Industrial Development Programme).
Until EDRP is fully launched, its trial programme is known provisionally as PADR (Preparatory Action on Defence Research).
Although the fund is smaller than the UK defence budget, it use as an incentive scheme encourages compliance with EU planning and policy, allowing the EU to influence member states’ defence planning to a degree greater than its 13bn-euro size.
While the EU emphasises defence research in the European Defence Fund’s prospectus, the majority of the funding – about 90% – is in fact for the EDIDP.
The European Defence Fund is the central budgetary component of the EU’s military policy grab and naturally has a complex structure.
The EU makes it impossible for any one country to benefit from European Defence Fund projects, by ensuring that companies from at least five countries are involved in each project. This is an entirely arbitrary rule designed to make the EU the sole authority capable of administering the projects, their finance and their development and use.
The five-country requirement also has the effect of undermining the concept of nationally-safeguarded technology, a common theme for cutting-edge UK defence and British defence industry, potentially giving nationally-funded expertise to countries whose taxpayers did not support its development.
Through the European Defence Fund, the EU can:
- Incentivise joint projects
- Coordinate the aim and conduct of the projects
- Ensure participant states and companies comply with headline EU defence policies
- Use the funded projects to promote EU policies
- Appoint EU-favoured project managers
- Decide the aim of projects ahead of applications
- Ensure projects are compliant with EU planning and policy during application and approvals process
- Incentivise the EU’s Pesco programme
- Incentivise the EU’s CARD programme
- Enforce the EU defence procurement directive
- Appoint a panel of industry personnel to coordinate development activities
- Enforce EDA benchmarks and guidelines
- Use its control over project selection and project management to influence licensing and production by participant companies and states
- Use the EU-controlled European Defence Agency as facilitator
The EU therefore has multiple methods of control built into the European Defence Fund, allowing it to steer outcomes and impose policy.
Furthermore, the fund’s links to other structures such as the European Defence Agency, Permanent Structured Cooperation and the wider defence development architecture (pic below, European Defence Fund shown top right) mean that the fund is used as both incentive and instrument of control over those other connected programmes too, ensuring that participants in one are bound by all the other parts of the chain.
Let’s be clear: if the UK were subject to the European Defence Fund, it would also be obliged to submit to the EU’s wider Common Security and Defence Policy and the whole EU defence capability development policy process.
The EU has bent its own rules to allow countries to contribute to the European Defence Fund. Countries such as Greece which are usually subject to strict EU austerity rules may make a national budget contribution to the European Defence Fund in a way that is uniquely exempt from the strictures of the EU-imposed Stability and Growth Pact.
A senior EU planner, working under EU defence supremo Mogherini, described how the European Defence Fund is the central pillar of the EU Defence Union.
Speaking in Brussels in January 2019, Arnout Molenaar, the EU’s head of capabilities and concepts at the crisis management and planning directorate, said: “If you research defence capabilities together, if you fund and develop together, if you build them together and you use them together and these are all done under a framework of policy instruments, then you can call this a Defence Union.”
The EU’s European Policy Strategy Centre published a paper in 2019 outlining the central role of the European Defence Fund in the EU Defence Fund, with this diagram:
20. Coordinated Annual Review on Defence
In a sentence: A large flagship EU scheme to steer member states’ defence budgets.
On the surface, CARD is supposed to be an efficiency effort, where the EU looks at member states’ defence spending plans and suggests changes.
In reality, it is a political control programme which ties member states’ defence ministries into the EU’s political locus and perspective. Think of how the UK Treasury currently controls MOD work and this is how CARD would weild its influence across the MOD and all EU defence ministries. CARD is guided by the EU Global Strategy, its EU Security and Defence Implementation Plan and the linked political processes of the EU’s European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB).
The UK’s involvement in CARD has been one of the most shocking stories of concealment by the May Government and Civil Service. The very fact that the UK has been fully involved was not admitted openly. MPs and the public were in the dark. This admission crept out as a result of specific Parliamentary questions. We now know that the May Government put us into this principal pillar of EU defence integration with every intention of keeping us there.
There was no need for the UK to be involved, no obligation for the UK to approve EU moves in this area, no public mandate, no manifesto commitment and no need for the ministers to have spent public time and money on it at a moment when Government departments are supposed to be preoccupied with exiting, not joining, EU schemes.
There was also no parliamentary debate on CARD and no vote prior to UK involvement. MPs and the public were in the dark about the UK’s participation in the trial and subsequent functioning of CARD.
When the May Government slyly placed CARD into proposals for the post-Brexit future relationship, there was no vote by MPs to confirm this action. If the deal had gone through, the UK would have been subject to a binding commitment participate.
There has to date been no UK Government information explaining UK involvement in CARD. It remains a black hole, so no media have reported on CARD either or how the UK was stealthily put into it.
Although remainer ministers and MPs regularly argue that CARD and linked EU control measures would give UK defence companies ‘access’ to the nascent EU defence procurement budget, there has been no official demand from defence companies either to do this or to accept the political surrender it requires.
When we have spoken to senior staff at the largest UK defence companies, they have expressed concern about the consequences for UK control and the UK industry.