Lt Gen Jonathon Riley outlines in detail why having control of our national defence is, as he puts it, ‘a catastrophic risk.’ He explains how the May government has sought to lock Britain into various EU structures created in order to establish control of Europe’s defence by the EU Commission – these structures include the European Defence Fund, the European Defence Agency and the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) mechanism. He references both the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration which make it clear which treaty obligations the UK is tied in to. Lt Gen Riley explains the structure of the European Defence Fund and how it operates by ‘leveraging’ national resources (rather than having a central funding model) through policy compliance. He goes on to explain how the Coordinated Annual Review of Defence (CARD) works to strengthen EU control over national decision-making.
N.B. Full UK Participation in CARD was agreed by Sir Alan Duncan MP on 19th November 2018, when has a Government Minister, despite the UK having voted to Leave the EU in June 2016. Lt Gen Riley then explains how the EU’s defence policy process has been designed to act not only as a power-grab for control over defence capabilities but also over defence industries. He goes on to explain how the pillars of the ‘European Defence Union’ operate together and how the specific terms in the Political Declaration relate to the UK being committed to this structure.
Riley then references how the Withdrawal Agreement replaces the UK’s Treaty commitment under the Lisbon Treaty with a new agreement concerning defence and references the specific clauses within the Political Declaration which tie the UK to the EU Defence structure on an ongoing basis. Lt Gen Riley goes on to show illustrate examples of instances where Ministers and Members of Parliament have responded to questions on this subject with incorrect information and denials of what in fact is happening. One example of a letter states that ‘no such common EU defence powers can be handed from the UK to the EU without the approval of Parliament and a referendum on the issue’.
However as Lt Gen Riley points out, there is no requirement for a referendum on simple issues like an extension of EU power over defence. The Lisbon Treaty states that a referendum is only required for the creation of a unified military, called ‘Common Defence’.
This is highly misleading as the EU structures are designed to control national defence and intelligence capabilities from the centre, rather than abolish and replace them. As in many areas, the EU exerts its control not by removing functions from national governments but does so by tie-ing nation states to supranational agreements and policy structures. The effect is that he UK loses its independent control over its defence and intelligence capabilities.
The UK has signed up to a huge power grab by the EU in the three years since the EU Referendum and extends these commitments if it agrees a Withdrawal Agreement (and therefore the Political Declaration) with the EU.
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