The establishment of an EU army is unacceptable – by MEP Laurence Stassen

Europe is about to embark on intensive military cooperation. Plans for this were discussed at the European summit on 19 and 20 December. There are even those who are calling for the establishment of an actual EU army. The European Parliament has made a series of recommendations which indeed point in the same direction. In view of the importance of this subject, the public have a right to know what position Dutch political parties are adopting on it.
The proposals put forward within the European Parliament call, inter alia, for:
• EU battle groups
• a permanent EU military head quarters
• joint financing of ‘rapid reaction operations’
• more financing for the European Defence Agency (EDA)
• a harmonised EU defence planning and procurement procedure
• a white paper on security and defence (white papers form the basis for EU legislative proposals)
• further fleshing-out of the EU clauses on ‘mutual defence’ (Art. 42(7) TEU) and ‘solidarity’ (Art. 222 TFEU), which require Member States to respond ‘by all the means in their power’ if a Member State is attacked
• drones to be developed at European level.
Among the Dutch parties, D66 and the CDA are the strongest advocates of the European plans. Those parties have supported all the above proposals. But as for the VVD, its draft election programme for the European elections prominently states: ‘The VVD is not in favour of establishing a European army’. Yet in reality the VVD too has fully supported the above proposals.
Accordingly, it is utter nonsense to say that the VVD is opposed to an EU army. By publicly presenting itself as an opponent but in practice supporting the establishment of a European army, the VVD is misleading voters.
Unlike the VVD, the Party for Freedom has a perfectly clear position: the establishment of a European army makes no sense and is downright unacceptable. The Netherlands is already a member of the NATO alliance which, since 1949, has very successfully kept the peace and maintained security in Europe. The Party for Freedom wishes the Dutch army to remain solely under national control. Where the Netherlands cooperates, it does so bilaterally (for example with the German- Dutch army corps and the United Kingdom/Netherlands Amphibious Force) or through NATO.
The importance of keeping the Dutch army out of the hands of the EU should not be underestimated. Whereas NATO is a forum for intergovernmental cooperation between completely sovereign States, the EU is now seeking to replace it with a European military organisation as part of the supranational EU. This entails serious risks for the Netherlands. The European Parliament wishes the so-called rapid reaction operations and the stand-by costs of battle groups to be financed from the EU budget.
The administrative and staff costs of permanent military cooperation too ought, in its view, to be eligible for funding from the EU budget. Although creating military capacity for the EU is presented as a way of cutting costs, in fact the duplication of NATO infrastructure will certainly not save money but on the contrary generate masses of extra bureaucracy in Brussels. It will increase the EU budget and thus the Netherlands’ financial contributions to Brussels.
In reality the EU’s concern here is not to save money, either: that is merely an argument of convenience. The main motive for establishing an EU military capacity is that the EU wishes to make its mark on the world stage. By creating its own military capability, the EU will make it possible to assert itself globally. There is a risk that, as a result, the Netherlands will be sucked into the EU’s foreign adventures.
Finally, there is a danger that the Netherlands’ own authority over its armed forces will be eroded if the EU appropriates more and more military tasks to itself. After all, we know how the EU operates when it comes to assuming powers at the expense of the Member States. The nation states’ loss of budgetary sovereignty for the sake of the euro is a classic example. The transfer of national sovereignty to Brussels is always a slippery slope. Let there be no doubt about it in this case: it is a widely supported federal ambition to develop a European state which will have an army all of its own.
At present, Member States still have a say in the use of their troops, but for how much longer ? Unlike other Dutch political parties, therefore, the Party for Freedom will never support the establishment of a European army. Laurence Stassen, Delegation leader of the Dutch Party for Freedom.

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