In a theme trailed on ConservativeHome this week, Liam Fox has written an excellent piece for today’s Telegraph about EU/European defence policy:

a practical level, those who favour a greater role for the EU have
three essential problems – the lack of defence spending among EU
members, the lack of a common approach to foreign policy and the
question of democratic accountability."

He cites the Balkans crisis as an example of how military co-operation is limited by differing foreign policy perspectives, and of the chasm between EU rhetoric and effective action. He also looks at the implications on national sovereignty and geostrategy:

  • "Too often we have been involved in the early stages of clearly
    integrationist projects, in the vain hope that they will change
    direction later."
  • "There is nothing wrong with trying to avoid uneconomic research
    duplication, but the exclusion of Norway and Turkey from the process
    suggests that it is about EU rather than European defence."
  • "The EU may have a role in acting as a delivery mechanism for Nato in some circumstances: it must not be allowed to replace Nato.

The two notably absent issues in this article are the costs of the "EUisation" of military procurement, and the EU’s existing military capability. Encouragingly though, Fox categorically stated that the Conservatives would not accept a European defence capability that was decided by Qualified Majority Voting, or one that excluded non-EU members such as Norway. As Fox has recently been chastised for "freelancing", I hope we can assume that the Party leadership is in line with him on this.

Deputy Editor