This article was first posted in The Commentator
After the Cold War, many European leaders believed they would no longer have to worry about huge global shifts and ideological struggles. However, as the old saying goes: “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you”.
Most troubling for many in the West are the attacks from Islamist fundamentalists which have come closer to home, and as the recent devastating events in Paris and the threats in Belgium have shown, decisive action is now required.
After the Paris attacks, President Hollande of France cited Article 42.7 of the Lisbon Treaty. This requires other Member States to do all they can to help when another Member State is ‘the victim of armed aggression’, but only at the victim’s specific request.
Sounds good so far, but will this be effective? The EU’s architects have always dreamed of a sovereign ‘United States of Europe’ ever since post-war reconstruction, but the current climate could not be clearer — there will never be consent for a militaristic EU.
This is where the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) comes in. NATO is an alliance which includes most Western nations. It was created in 1949, for the collective defence and mutual assistance of like-minded nations in times of crisis.
As it happens, any concrete response to defeat ISIS is expected to be delivered by NATO and allies in the Iraq and the Syria region. As Article 5 of NATO’s Washington Treaty states: ‘An attack against one Ally is considered as an attack against all Allies.’
So why did Hollande talk about invoking the EU’s mutual defence pact, and not NATO’s? After all, the latter has all of the systems in place: close intelligence sharing; experience of working together; and integrated training. Most of all, NATO is built for purpose as a military alliance, while the EU uses every chance it gets to get noticed on the world stage.
Is this what the Great British Public voted for — for our own government’s representation on the world stage to be overtaken by the EU? No. This is especially dangerous when our defence and security matters are effectively dealt with nationally, and through our existing arrangements with other nations.
Hollande’s impulse reflected France’s longstanding and somewhat stubborn support for a separate European defence policy. France’s experiment to counter military dominance by the United States has failed. France effectively quit NATO in 1966, only to be reintegrated back into the NATO fold in 2009.
Duplicating Western power in two different organisations (NATO and the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy) is entirely wasteful. This only undermines effective co-ordination to counter more threats to British and European citizens. You would have to think the Eurocrats are a thoughtless and insensitive bunch to score political points in light of recent terrorist attacks, but this is exactly what has is happening.
Recent discussions by the EU’s Committee on Foreign Affairs have actually proposed to do away with the British seat on the United Nation’s Security Council (one of five). They want to merge Britain with France into a single EU seat. As James Carver MEP said in the European Parliament last week: “This only expands the British people’s fear of an expansionist EU”.
Clearly, Brussels wants to expand, and power-grab at every opportunity.
While Western leaders attempt to deal with the mess in Syria and Iraq, it’s the domestic front which has proved most worrying for Britons. However, as Open Europe rightly points out, the EU’s past attempts to keep tabs on home-grown extremists has a disastrous track record.
As it stands, Britain’s intelligence services are recognised as among the best in the world, and close co-operation already exists without the need for it to be centralised and managed by the EU.
Besides our obvious objections to forming a common EU army — with its own uniform, flag, and command headquarters — the EU simply does not have the ability to do contingency planning, or run overseas operations with the same effectiveness as NATO.
So clear is the EU’s lack of ‘hard power’, even its own foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has admitted NATO would need to be used in any plan to eradicate ISIS.
Whereas the EU marches onwards in its attempt to become a superstate and global power, NATO is a true military alliance. Collective defence is what NATO is all about. Brussels will always want to attempt to cement power within its own ideological project.
This is yet another good reason why we must Get Britain Out of the EU as soon as possible, and stay focused on where our own security architecture really lies.