Monday, April 07, 2003
Further developments in European Defence - 7th March 2003, 21.40

Although it is unlikely that a common European Army will be established in the near future, this does not prevent the merry-go-round of meeting and planning to continue. The EU's Budget Commissioner, Michaele Scheyer, stated recently that future military adventures by European troops should be budgeted through the EU accounts, which could be read as a precursor of a European Defence budget.

However, more realistic voices like German Defence Minister Peter Struck acknowledge that a united European force is "a long way off" although he saw little hope of Britain giving up its navy. It appears that most of those calling for a more realistic appraisal of the circumstances are German with Die Welt calling for a rapprochement with the United States and recognising that "even though the European Union fundamentally needs the German-French alliance, it cannot survive on it alone: without the Britons there is no European army worthy of the name."

The next important date is April 29th when 'Old Europe' comes together in order to plan a defence union, putting the lie to the more conciliatory tones heard coming out of Germany recently. Not unsurprisingly this has annoyed other members of the EU who perceive the meeting to be a private club. Italy has called for the meeting to be opened to all EU members and were backed by Romano Prodi who, nevertheless, welcomed the current Franco-German format as a step towards a more robust European identity.

If the European Army is as successful as any other European venture, we have nothing to worry about, since they will have too many officers, too few weapons and most of the Mediterranean countries will provide 'phantom battalions' for the money.

Jim Bennett agrees and constructs and exit strategy: the Trans Atlantic Free Trade Association. You don't have to be an Anglospherist to support this as one possible move for providing alternatives to the European Union, the most important political need in British political discourse at this time.


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