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NATO Secretary General comments on EU defence policy

6 May 2013

NATO Secretary General comments on EU defence policy

Conservative Security and Defence spokesman, Geoffrey Van Orden MEP, today stated that European defence policy was merely a case of the EU looking for ways to justify its existence and push for more European integration

Conservative Security and Defence spokesman, Geoffrey Van Orden MEP, today stated that European defence policy was merely a case of the EU looking for ways to justify its existence and push for more European integration.

Mr Van Orden was speaking during a meeting of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Security and Defence Committees, which was addressed by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

Mr Rasmussen talked briefly on a wide range of issues includingAfghanistan,Syria, missile defence, and cyber security. But, much of the discussion revolved around EU defence policy and how this is regarded within NATO.

In response to questions, Mr Rasmussen gave only lukewarm support to EU defence ambitions – stating that “On operations we manage to get along; on capabilities we must ensure complementarity, not parallel activities and duplication; on consultation the situation is absurd given the unresolved issue of Cyprus”.

He went further in stating that, “If the EU contribution is centred on generating new capabilities, then that could be valuable – if it only concerns new bureaucracies or new institutions, then it’s just hot air.”

Remarking that Secretary General Rasmussen’s comments had brought a “whiff of reality” to the Parliament, Mr Van Orden commented:

“The European Union scours the world looking for a role, seeking an opportunity to plant its flag in order to justify a European defence policy. Instead, it should give stronger support to NATO.

“The question we have to ask is: how should we strengthen the military capacities of the democracies in a dangerous world – not how should we fund and justify a role for the European Union.

“The most important decisions in the EU Defence Council in December should indeed concern investment in critical defence capabilities. But, at a time of scarce defence resources, for the EU to be creating parallel structures and replicating existing NATO activity – from new headquarters to helicopter training programmes – is wasteful and completely unwarranted, particularly as the driving motive is European political integration.

“If our countries faced a serious security threat which organisation would we turn to, NATO or the EU? The question answers itself.”

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