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Published on Dec 1, 2016
At a time when there are multiple threats facing Europe it is right for the EU to look at improving its level of intergovernmental cooperation in terms of the Common Security and Defence Policy. As ever, the proposals have been met by some in this House with false accusations that they amount to the creation of an EU army and a concerted effort to undermine the role of NATO.
The CSDP has always been rooted in absolute respect for the Member States’ sovereignty in this key area of national policy, and on acknowledging NATO as the mainstay of European defence. The conclusions of the most recent Foreign Affairs Council uphold these key principles. Its support for strengthening Europe’s industrial defence base, eliminating duplication and waste in certain areas of procurement, and exploring the possibility of greater levels of integration militarily for those Member States willing to take such action under the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) mechanism is to be welcomed, and also respects the principles of sovereignty.
The EU NAVFOR Atalanta mission stands out as a strong example of what cooperation at EU level can achieve. Bringing together Member States’ defence capabilities alongside the EU’s unique soft-power and hard-power capabilities, it was able comprehensively to defeat piracy in the Indian Ocean, and, most importantly, NATO welcomed this cooperation. It was, of course, commanded by the Royal Navy, based in my London constituency, but that is an aside.
Ultimately, and this is the point I want to make to the High Representative today, the United Kingdom after Brexit must stay plugged into the CFSP and the CSDP. That would be my lifelong ambition post-Brexit.