The European Constitution and Defence

The European Union Constitutional Treaty has been agreed in Brussels by the European Council. The Treaty will contribute to the development of European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP).

The EU Constitutional Treaty has been agreed, but not yet ratified by member states. It is much wider than defence, but there are a number of articles in the Treaty of relevance to MOD. These include agreements on:

1. A 'structured co-operation' protocol.
2. The creation of a European Defence Agency.
3. The updating of the Petersberg Tasks.
4. The solidarity clause.

The official party line from MoD is as follows:

The Constitutional Treaty will contribute to the development and strengthening of European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) in an open, flexible, militarily robust and NATO-friendly way.

The security and defence aspects of the Constitutional Treaty do not contradict or replace the NATO security guarantee. Indeed, the Treaty explicitly states – for the first time in an EU Treaty – that NATO remains the foundation of collective defence of its members. The Treaty does reflect the political reality that EU Member States would provide help and assistance to a partner facing a threat to its security, but this is entirely different to the collective defence guarantee which remains exclusively for NATO.

The Treaty does not involve the creation of a European Army or standing European Rapid Reaction Force. Forces are offered by EU Member states for EU operations on a case-by-case basis. It is no different to the arrangements for NATO operations. The decision to deploy national forces can only be taken on a national basis, and the UK cannot be forced unwillingly into any military action. The Constitutional Treaty does not change this.

EU Member States must still take action individually to address capability shortfalls by spending defence budgets more effectively on capabilities that enable them to deploy rapidly. Improving European defence capabilities will benefit both the EU and NATO.

Structured co-operation

Structured co-operation is the mechanism by which EU Member States with greater military capabilities can work more closely together in defence. The UK stated in the November Intergovernmental Conference White Paper that we would not accept any new forms of co-operation which undermine existing arrangements, and we have successfully maintained this position. Structured co-operation is open, flexible and NATO-friendly and by focusing on capability development it provides a real incentive for European countries to improve their defence capabilities – which is a key aim for the UK.

Structured co-operation has been designed so that any EU Member State who wishes to make a substantial contribution to improving ESDP capabilities can join. Participation in the European battlegroups initiative remains a possible entry criterion.

Structured co-operation is about capabilities improvement and it cannot be used to launch operations – the Treaty is clear that the launch of an operation remains a matter for unanimity by all Member States. The UK expects to join structured co-operation.

European Defence Agency

The European Defence Agency will play an essential role in encouraging European Member States to improve European capabilities, with corresponding benefits for NATO. It will be fully involved in other work towards improving European defence capabilities, gradually assuming responsibility for the European Capabilities Action Plan, and beginning capability evaluation of battlegroups. For further information see the Secretary of State's written statement European Defence Agency of 22 June.

Petersberg Tasks

The “Petersberg Tasks” are the shorthand for the range of operations in which the EU can be involved, currently ranging from humanitarian and rescue tasks to peacemaking. The updating of these Tasks means that the stated objectives of ESDP now more closely reflect the security challenges we face. The tasks are not widened in scale but set out more clearly what the EU might undertake, e.g. military advice and assistance.

Solidarity Clause

The solidarity clause enables civil and military capabilities available to the EU to be used to protect the civilian population following a terrorist, natural or man-made disaster. It gives the EU a robust mechanism to ensure a swift, co-ordinated response to a Member State’s request for help.
The beginning of end; Government spin or good news for us?
It will never work in a month of Sundays :roll:
manchestercop said:
polyglory said:
It will never work in a month of Sundays :roll:
Everyone thought the League of Nations would work, it didnt. Then everyone thought NATO wouldnt work, it has...
Yep I agree with that.

France never contributed any assets to Nato, but did the political posturing etc.
Always to their rules, times are a changing, where mind you, is a good question? :roll:
Nato worked during the Cold War. It even worked, up to a point, during the Kosovo crisis. It has singularly failed to work at any but the most basic level in Afghanistan. 8)

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