21 January 2016
ECR MEPs have opposed a European Parliament resolution calling for integrated military forces (“permanent structured cooperation”), establishment of a permanent European Union military headquarters to plan collective defence, and movement towards a European Defence Union separate from NATO.
The proposals follow France’s surprise decision in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks to invoke, for the first time, Article 42.7 of the Lisbon Treaty, which imitates the vital NATO Article 5.
The resolution bemoans a lack of practical arrangements to ensure an effective response to France’s call and concludes that only with an “autonomous security and defence capability” will the EU be equipped to face internal and external security threats.
However, ECR MEPs insist that while European countries have offered France their full backing following the attacks, recognising the importance of countries working together to combat terrorism, this should not mean drawing on a superfluous defence article of the Lisbon Treaty rather than the NATO treaty.
ECR Security and Defence coordinator Geoffrey Van Orden MEP said: “Instead of a practical resolution showing solidarity with France the opportunity has been hijacked by those who want to push for an EU Army. This is totally unacceptable.
“We have long warned about the dangers of EU defence ambitions which can only be at the expense of our national sovereignty and of the vital NATO alliance. Many were dismayed when the Lisbon Treaty included a mutual defence clause, which is almost a complete copy of NATO’s Article 5. The EU itself has no credible ability to respond to such requests from its member states. In any case, 22 of them are NATO members and the remainder have participated in some way in NATO activity. There is no excuse therefore for this action.
“Fortunately this resolution has no legislative weight. But it is an indication of where the federalists want to take the EU. We have to fight a constant rear-guard action to keep them at bay and meanwhile they try to advance their cause by political pressure.”
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