Military Unification has been on the European Union’s policy agenda for decades. In the past twelve months, the pressure to complete the task has accelerated the process, particularly since the Bratislava Summit of September 2016.
There, the 27 leaders of the EU decided to “give a new impetus” to European external security and defence.
They set as a target the December 2016 European Council to formalise an implementation plan.
To quote one commentator, “European Union Defence plans are associated with the eventual formation of a European Federal State. Under the current system of unaccountable governance, this means they will be run by an unelected oligarchy. A nation state that contracts out its defence has ceased to be.”
Tory high command forces acquiescence in EEC plans for military union
European Commission President Jacques Delors tells a summit of European Economic Community heads of government at Fontainebleau that the first and foremost of his three big ideas for relaunching European political integration is “military union” (une défense commune), the others being currency union and the abolition of member states’ vetoes. Mrs Thatcher refuses all three ideas in private at the summit with “No! No! No!” but is forbidden by her party bosses from even mentioning the phrase, or the military union proposal, until she defiantly uses the phrase (without its military context) in her last month as Prime Minister.
The foundations are laid for a Common Foreign and Security Policy
The European Council in Maastricht lays the foundations for a political Union with the creation of a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the beginnings of a common defence policy (ESDP/CSDP, a major component of the CFSP), as the second pillar of the Treaty of Maastricht.
The text is signed in February 1992 and comes into force in November 1993.
Chirac signs Blair up for a Franco-British core of EU military union
British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac sign the Saint-Malo Declaration to make the Franco-British axis the motor of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy. Twenty EU military interventions have since been launched under the CSDP. As Chirac and Blair foresee a military future increasingly independent of the USA, Canada and NATO, the 1998 Saint-Malo Declaration marks the victory of French doctrine (housing Europe’s autonomous military capacity within the EU) over the doctrine of the UK and several other EU member states (maintaining Europe’s autonomous military capacity within the Western European Union, a since-defunct military alliance unrelated to the EU).
Launch of the European Security and Defence Policy
At the European Council in Cologne, the EU 15 decide to reinforce the Common Foreign and Security Policy.
Signature of Berlin Plus
The ‘Berlin Plus’ arrangement is signed, allowing the use of NATO structures, mechanisms and assets to carry out ESDP missions.
European Security Strategy adopted
The summit in Brussels adopts a European Security Strategy. The aim of the document is to achieve a secure Europe in a better world, identify the threats facing the EU, define its strategic objectives and set out the political implications for Europe.
Creation of the European Defence Agency
The European Defence Agency is established to support the member states and the European Council to improve European defence capabilities in the field of crisis management and to sustain ESDP.
EU Battlegroups reach full operational capacity
Eighteen battlegroups under direct control of the Council of the European Union reach full operational capacity. Battlegroups consist of a battalion-sized force (1,500 troops), plus support personnel. Two are ready for deployment at all times.
Creation of Synchronised Armed Forces Europe (SAFE)
The European Parliament votes in favour of the creation of SAFE as a first step towards a true European military force.
First Franco British Council Roundtable
Quentin Davies MP, Minister for Defence Equipment, attends the first Franco British Council Roundtable on integrating British and French military.
The Treaty of Lisbon comes into force. The CSDP succeeds the ESDP
The Treaty of Lisbon, signed in 2007, enters into force, renaming ESDP to Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). It provides for the creation of the European External Action Service. Commission delegations in countries outside the EU become EU delegations.
Second Franco British Council Roundtable
The Franco‐British Council (FBC) and the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) host the second Franco British Council Roundtable on bilateral defence “cooperation” at the French Embassy in London.
The purpose of this meeting is twofold. Firstly, it aims to extend the FBC’s “Britain, France and Defence” initiative of October 2009.
Secondly, ahead of the May 2010 General Election, they feel it important to “resume discussions before the formation of a new government and a reassessment of British strategic priorities”.
Third Franco British Council Roundtable
The Franco‐British Council (FBC) and the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) host the third Franco British Council Roundtable on bilateral defence “cooperation” at the residence of the British Ambassador in Paris.
Speakers include Gisela Stuart MP, Contre Amiral Pascal Ausser, Edward Leigh MP, Amiral Alain Coldefy, Francoise Hostalier, depute, Kevin Taylor of BAE systems and Vice Admiral Paul Lambert.
The event is sponsored by BAE Systems.
Lancaster House Treaties – A Fifty Year Defence Pact Between Britain and France
British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy sign two defence treaties at 10 Downing Street.
The announcement is made by the two leaders following a summit meeting held at Lancaster House. No debate is held in Parliament.
2013 French White Paper on Defence and National Security
The White Paper is prefaced by Francois Hollande, President of France. It states:
Although the Lisbon Treaty’s inclusion of solidarity and collective defence clauses was a recognition of the fact that the Member States are equally concerned by most threats, their perceptions, strategic cultures and national ambitions remain very diverse. The specifc history of each Member State is reflected in the links forged in every continent, and sometimes in their contrasting visions of the role of military force in international relations. This diversity can be an asset, inasmuch as each country brings its own experience to the common project, but it can also be a source of mutual suspicion and make any hopes of rapid integration appear unrealistic. In this respect, the slow progress of the European defence and security policy shows that national perceptions cannot be transformed by institutions alone. The support of the people is essential. It can only be created through democratic debate, a common political will, shared experience and an awareness that we all have interests and strategic priorities in common. In the economic sphere, the crisis has confronted the European Union with difficult choices, giving rise to lively debate in all its Member States. Under the pressure of events, significant progress towards greater integration now stands to be achieved in budgetary and financial matters. This closer policy integration should eventually extend to security and defence. France sees this as a key objective, and it is in this perspective that it envisions its future and the exercise of its sovereignty.
Priority actions for defence set out
For the first time since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the European Council discusses defence and identifies priority actions for stronger cooperation:
- increasing the effectiveness, visibility and impact of Common Security and Defence Policy
- enhancing the development of capabilities
- strengthening Europe’s defence industry
Jean-Claude Juncker calls for an “EU Army”
Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission calls for an “EU Army”.
“You would not create a European army to use it immediately,” Juncker told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
“But a common army among the Europeans would convey to Russia that we are serious about defending the values of the European Union.”
Juncker made many similar statements throughout 2015, and made it clear to David Cameron that military union would be a condition of any “new settlement” between Britain and the EU.
European Political Strategy Centre publishes White Paper on military unification
Jean-Claude Juncker’s defence advisor Michel Barnier issues a white paper through the European Political Strategy Centre, the EU’s in-house think tank, calling for military union.
Europe needs to move from the current patchwork of bilateral and multilateral military cooperation to gradually increased defence integration. The Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), provided in the Lisbon Treaty, could become a game changer in European security by enabling willing Member States to move forward.
Germany and the Netherlands step up their military cooperation
Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert and her German colleague Ursula von der Leyen sign two agreements on far-reaching cooperation measures. The signing takes place on board the Karel Doorman, which is moored in Amsterdam’s harbour.
Included in the agreement are the integration of the German Naval Force Protection Battalion (Seebataillon) into the Royal Netherlands Navy, the integration of the 43rd Mechanized Brigade into the German 1st Armoured Division, and agreements on joint air defence.
Presentation of the European Union global strategy
High Representative Federica Mogherini presents the EU global strategy on foreign and security policy to EU leaders, meeting in Brussels at the EU summit.
The High Representative was mandated to prepare the new strategy by the European Council in June 2015. The strategy, under the title ‘Shared vision, common action: a stronger Europe’ reflects the collective views expressed in the process and offers a strategic vision for the EU’s global role. In these challenging times, both for Europe and globally, the strategy highlights common ground and presents a way forward.
Signing of the EU-NATO joint declaration
At the NATO summit in Warsaw, the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission and NATO Secretary-General sign a joint declaration on EU-NATO cooperation.
The declaration aims to further strengthen EU-NATO cooperation at a time of unprecedented security challenges from the East and the South.
Informal meeting of the 27 heads of state or government in Bratislava
The heads of state or government of the 27 meet in Bratislava to begin a political reflection on further development of an EU with 27 member countries.
Leaders agree on the Bratislava Declaration and Roadmap, in which they state an intention to decide on a concrete implementation plan on security and defence and on how to make better use of the options in the Treaties at the European Council meeting in December.
They also agree to start implementing the joint declaration with NATO immediately.
Implementation plan on security and defence
EU foreign and defence ministers discuss the implementation plan on security and defence under the EU global strategy. They set out the level of ambition and the way forward on the future development of EU security and defence policy.
European Defence Action Plan presented by the European Commission
European Defence Fund and other actions aim to support member states’ more efficient spending in joint defence capabilities, strengthen European citizens’ security and foster a competitive and innovative industrial base.
Common set of proposals to implement the EU-NATO joint declaration
The Council adopts conclusions on the Implementation of the EU-NATO Joint Declaration, endorsing 40 proposals in the 7 areas. These proposals are endorsed on the same day by the North Atlantic Council.
European Council stresses the need to strengthen Europe’s security and defence
The European Council reaffirms its commitment to the European Union Internal Security Strategy 2015-2020. It addresses the strengthening of EU cooperation on external security and defence and focuses on:
- the EU Global Strategy in the area of security and defence
- the European Defence Action Plan
- implementation of the common set of proposals which follow up on the EU-NATO Joint Declaration signed in Warsaw in July 2016
- HRVP/Head of the EDA proposals on the scope, modalities and content of a Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD).
Council reviews progress and agrees to improve support for military missions
The Council adopted conclusions setting out the progress achieved in implementing the EU global strategy in the area of security and defence.
The Council also approved a concept note on the operational planning and conduct capabilities for CSDP missions and operations. One of the measures foreseen is the establishment of a military planning and conduct capability (MPCC) for the planning and conduct of non-executive military missions.
Britain announces bilateral “defence pact” with Germany
Theresa May announces that Britain and Germany will form a defence pact immediately following formal invocation of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.
The Ministry of Defence says it is working with Germany “on a joint vision statement on future co-operation”.
UK and Netherlands agree closer defence ties
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon agrees a joint vision statement – a commitment to strengthen co-operation in areas including hybrid and cyber warfare and counter-terrorism – with Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, Minister of Defence for the Netherlands.
The agreement will include a pledge to work more closely across defence and security policy, intelligence and joint exercises. It will also see the exchange of personnel and work towards a UK-Netherlands Amphibious Force.
European Council calls for the launch of a permanent structured cooperation
At the June European Council, EU leaders agree on the need to launch an inclusive and ambitious permanent structured cooperation (PESCO) to strengthen Europe’s security and defence.
Within three months, member states will agree a common list of criteria and commitments, together with concrete capability projects, in order to start this cooperation.
“It is a historic step, because such cooperation will allow the EU to move towards deeper integration in defence. Our aim is for it to be ambitious and inclusive, so every EU country is invited to join,” says Donald Tusk at the European Council press conference.
UK Government publishes “Foreign policy, defence and development” Brexit White Paper
UK Government publishes “Foreign policy, defence and development“.
Despite “Brexit”, the U.K. will continue its contribution to CSDP missions and operations if it can participate in both the mandate development and detailed operational planning stages of the process (PESCO).
Boris Johnson and Michael Fallon meet Polish counterparts to progress Defence and Security Cooperation Treaty
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson meet their Polish counterparts to discuss security and defence cooperation.
Fallon and Polish Defence Minister Macierewicz discuss increasing military ties and co-operation, including working towards a “Defence Capability and Industrial Partnership” to strengthen cooperation between the UK and Polish defence industries.
They also discuss the Defence and Security Cooperation Treaty, which the Prime Minister will sign at the next UK-Poland Inter-Governmental meeting in December.
Boris Johnson meets Foreign Ministers at Chevening House
Boris Johnson is joined by the foreign ministers of Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia at Chevening House to discuss “shared challenges” and the UK’s “continued commitment” to EU security and defence.
European Council Discuss PESCO
Heads of state or government resume discussions on the permanent structured cooperation (PESCO) on defence at the European Council meeting, attended by Theresa May.
Donald Tusk announces EU Treasury
During opening statements by the European Council and European Commission to assess the state of Brexit negotiations, Donald Tusk announces his determination to create a European Monetary Fund, part an EU Treasury:
I will do everything in my power to take the first very concrete steps, by June , towards establishing the European Monetary Fund and strengthening the stability of the Banking Union. I still believe that it is possible. In June it will become clear if I am in incurable optimist, but one thing I can promise you today: if we don’t reach agreement by June, I will say precisely why it wasn’t possible, and who is responsible.
Jean-Claude Juncker announces creation of EU Finance Minister role
Jean-Claude Juncker announces publication of the European Commission Work Programme 2018 “with a 2025 perspective”. In it he announces “a deeper and fairer economic and monetary union”, including:
- Completing the economic and monetary union
- Completing the banking union
- Creation of a permanent and accountable European Minister of Economy and Finance
Dutch Officer commands German Panzer Battalion for first time
A Dutch officer becomes commander of the German Army’s Panzerbatallion (Tank Battalion) 414 for the first time. The Bundeswehr describes his command as “historic” and the Dutch Ministry of Defence says it is “a next step” in the integration of the Dutch Army’s 43 Mechanised Brigade into the German 1st Panzer Division.
EU military established with signing of joint notification on PESCO
23 member states sign a joint notification on Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), establishing an EU military and single point budget. Signatory nations are legally obliged to take part in PESCO operations, with no possibility of national electorates preventing national involvement.
The 23 nations are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
The UK does not sign. It is possible for the UK and other member states to join at a later stage.
European Defence Agency workshop on PESCO project proposals
Member States experts meet at the European Defence Agency (EDA) for a workshop to assess PESCO related project proposals. The workshop is co-chaired by the EDA and the EU Military Staff, making up the PESCO secretariat.
The aim of the workshop is to establish a technical expert-level common understanding on:
- the scope of PESCO related project proposals
- the practical aspects of implementing these projects
- the assessment methodology to be adopted for all PESCO projects
- the proposed way ahead
Despite not signing the PESCO Joint Notification, the United Kingdom participates.
House of Commons Library publishes PESCO briefing paper
The title of the report is “EU Defence: the realisation of Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO)”
The report states the UK position on PESCO as:
The UK Government did not sign the Joint Notification on 13 November 2017. As such it will remain outside of PESCO. In doing so the UK will have no decision making rights over PESCO governance or any veto over the future strategic direction of PESCO, which has been openly acknowledged as greater EU integration in the field of defence.
Federica Mogherini opens European Defence Agency Annual Conference
The European Defence Agency Annual Conference 2017 entitled ‘Security in the digital age: the added value of European cooperation’ is opened by the Head of the Agency, Federica Mogherini.
Addressing a 400-strong audience representing the whole European defence spectrum – governments, armed forces, industry, EU institutions, NATO, think tanks and media – Mrs Mogherini says the conference is taking place “at the most important moment for European defence in decades” with bold new initiatives such as the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD), the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) and the European Defence Fund (EDF) creating an unprecedented momentum for enhanced cooperation.
Today, we are building a European Union of security and defence. It’s not a plan, not a dream anymore, but a reality (…) All the building blocks of a security and defence union are finally there.
NATO Foreign Ministers Meeting focusses on EU Defence Cooperation
NATO foreign ministers meet in Brussels seeking to increase cooperation with the European Union.
Stoltenberg says foreign ministers, including Boris Johnson, would explore means of expanding cooperation – which is already at “an unprecedented level” – between NATO and the European Union.
Two more countries join PESCO, bringing the total to 25
Ireland and Portugal declare that they will join the EU’s Permanent Structured Cooperation, bringing the total number of member states involved to 25.
This raised huge questions for Ireland over its historic neutrality.
European Council establishes Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO)
The European Council formally adopts a decision establishing Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), less than a month after receiving a joint notification by member states of their intention to participate.
The 25 member states participating in PESCO are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden.
European Council agrees its position on the European Defence Industrial Development Programme
The European Council agrees its position (general approach) on the proposed regulation which will establish the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP).
According to Jüri Luik, Estonian Minister for Defence:
European security is a core priority for our citizens. This is now being matched with a real increase in defence cooperation among EU members. The European Defence Industrial Development Programme will make our defence industry more competitive and innovative. This is crucial both for the security of our citizens and for the viability of our industry.
Insight: EU Military Unification
Recorded in August 2016, Mike Robinson and Patrick Henningsen speak to David Ellis from Strategic Defence Initiatives and Brian Gerrish from the UK Column about EU Military Unification.