An MP who was formerly a senior British Army officer has described his concerns about the EU’s military moves and their impact on NATO.
Bob Stewart DSO MP, a former Lieutenant Colonel, was military assistant to the NATO’s highest ranking officer and later Chief of Policy to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR). In an article on his website, he says:
“I am increasingly worried to see Brussels-centric politicians and bureaucrats, using cover provided by Article 42 of the Lisbon Treaty, continually pushing for substantial military integration within the institutional framework of the European Union. Implicitly this can only be at the expense of NATO.”
Since 2016, a wide range of EU-controlled military structures have been created at the EU Council of Ministers and the UK has joined as a participant in all of these. The structures being gradually phased in by bureaucrats connect growing EU defence policy with defence industrial grants with incentivise compliance. There is also a new EU military HQ and even a scheme allowing the EU to steer member states’ defence budgets. Other agreements allow the EU to militarise its space projects and expand its military intelligence capability. The EU Council agreements assert decision-making autonomy from NATO and overlap many capabilities NATO can already provide.
Lt Col Stewart, who was writing for his own website, added:
“Personally I am very wary of the rise of an EU army for many reasons. Let me rehearse some of them. Firstly, I want the UK to retain absolute control over all its armed forces and I utterly reject the notion that we should cede such powers to Brussels. NATO works and has proved itself as a European defence treaty.”
He warned that EU Commission reports had argued for ‘more Europe in defence’ and technocrats have even condemned so-called ‘traditional NATO-first reflexes’. The reports also claim that EU defence integration is “not just a political option but a strategic and economic necessity”.
He warned that the EU has been trying to use what it calls the full potential of its treaties in regard to its military ambitions.
“Why does the European Union need a military of its own? NATO works well for Europe with the huge added advantage of transatlantic support. If there is a need for Europe to act separately there are already proven operations where NATO has willingly helped out such as in Bosnia from 2004.”
He said although he had “no problem” with the EU coordinating counter-piracy operations but drew the line over continental defence.
“It is clear that the European Union has its sights on NATO. Slowly but surely it is niggling away at an alliance which has stood us in great stead for 66 years. For me it is another attempt by Brussels to restrict our national sovereignty.”
Lt Col Stewart then described what he thought was behind the EU’s moves in this area: “I believe the primary purpose of the drive for a European Army is far more political than military. After all, statehood is symbolised by possession of armed forces. In its push for greater political, social and economic union towards its aim of a United States of Europe, Brussels sees an army as being an essential accessory.”
He added that NATO must beware. “The European Union is out on manoeuvres and I for one will utterly resist such siren calls.”
Bob Stewart’s full article, which was written before the UK’s referendum on EU membership, can be viewed here: