When this story appeared in the Guardian yesterday, it is easy to gloss over the offer by France to operationally merge our nuclear submarine capabilities as purely an economic matter, but as we have seen time and time again, moves by those who would see a federal Europe always use the economic argument as the driving force, ignoring completely the issue of national sovereignty and with it, national security.
What the Guardian failed to tell us was that a similar offer was made by France in December, but this time it was with regard to our carrier fleet, and in particular the 2 new super carriers still on the building ramps.
Whilst economic prudence is something that we must all be aware of in these very tight fiscal times, the operational nightmare of merging two very distinct national fleets in this way, like most things EU, would have a disproportionate cost in reality.
Then there is the political and cultural differences, operational standards, command and control, language and last but not least, the fact that our nuclear systems are still only leased from the US, as one commentator put it:
I will love to see Britain put distance between itself and the US on this issue, considering that your so called independent deterrent carries leased US Trident missiles created and built by Lockheed, are armed with a copy of the US W76 warhead using US materials, built at Aldermaston by American scientists from DOE (Department of Energy) and Lockheed, the platform (the sub) is built by General Dynamics Electric Boat Division using Vickers, the launch/fire control systems are built by Lockheed and the President of the US holds one set of the codes used to launch those missiles. The upgrade program is known as D5LE (D5 Life Extension), which is American, Britain can be excluded at any time and the leased missiles can be recalled. You need to understand that this is an American weapons system, and the key word here is SYSTEM, not British. Anyway, good luck with making your wish come true.
As with the nuclear submarines, so with the Aircraft Carriers. Design work for the UK carriers is still going on, with much wrangling and back-room deals going on over the type of aircraft that will fly from these massive ships, the decision of which will ultimately shape the final design of the flight deck area, and a decade old design agreement with the French has broken down several times with the design and procurement arguments is still ongoing. The French are making the MoD look expert in comparison.
But lets not take these French offers of naval closeness in isolation, lets look at the bigger picture and see what the French government have been doing on the wider EU front with regards to defence.
European lawmakers adopted agreements on the need for increased strategic autonomy of the Union based on two reports prepared by the chairman of the Subcommittee on Security and Defence, Arnaud Danjean from France.
I am still looking for these 2 reports, although the content of one has already been discussed in the EU Parliament. MEPs supported the establishment of a Council of Defence within the Foreign Affairs Council and a permanent operations centre under the leadership of the EU high representative for foreign policy, Baroness Ashton.
This is yet another move by the French to establish an EU wide Military structure, head-quartered not in Brussels but in Strasbourg, yet at the same time being able to sell it politically to their respective populations as an economic agreement between 2 nation states. Their moves for collaboration over Carriers and Nuclear submarines is just a part of that wider EU structure as the UK and France are the only member states to have such equipment.
The European Union has to strengthen its strategic autonomy and pursue a strong and effective foreign policy, and security and defense policy, the European Parliament decided on Thursday in Strasbourg.
According to the deputies, strengthening these measures is necessary now that the Lisbon Treaty has come into force, said a parliamentary press release. Parliament must now be consulted before any missions are launched within the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP).
At the same time, the EU apparently no longer regards nation states as having their own armed forces, and refers to them collectively as EU forces.
MEPs also urged “rapid progress” on improving the speed of deployment of CSDP missions and EU forces.
The EU net closes in, quicker and with more urgency. As Calling England indicates:
Quiet Man makes the clear-cut case for a sovereign nation keeping control of its nuclear deterrent – it’s logical but our govt doesn’t ‘do’ logic.
So what does the Conservative party make of this speeding up of federalism in the post-Lisbon EU. Yesterday Timothy Kirkhope, leader of Britains Conservative MEP’s had this to say, reported in the EU Politics News:
“The fact is that during the 13 years of the Labour government, public support for our membership of the EU has fallen, it is lower now then when they took office.
“That is a sad indictment of their record in Europe. For all the sound-bites and soft words, the government hasn’t delivered in Europe and the public knows it.
“What Britain now needs is to earn the respect of our European partners by engaging constructively in the debate with a consistent approach.”
Now we all know that Labour has kept the EU off the public agenda when it comes to debate and consultation, but as those at the Albion Alliance already know, the Conservative Party are micro managing this to a greater degree than their Labour & LibDem colleagues, so its going to be more of the same federalist backroom dealing with the EU, just so long as the public don’t find out.
To re-inforce that view, back to the ‘Naval cooperation’. Liam Fox, has said that if the Conservatives formed the next government, the Ministry of Defence would invite France to make a formal submission to the promised Strategic Defence and Security Review “stating what they expect from their relationship with the United Kingdom”
Showing clearly that he also intends to continue to conflate national political sell with EU ambitions he had this to say.
“We will need to be able to project power on a strategic level alongside the US and France.”
He is expected today to point to the advantages of closer defence procurement co-operation with France – on a bilateral basis, he will emphasise.
I am sure that he will continue to emphasise the bilaterial basis of this, whilst keeping out of the news the EU basis that our governments are working towards with the creation of the the establishment of a Council of Defence within the Foreign Affairs Council and a permanent operations centre under the leadership of the EU high representative for foreign policy, Baroness Ashton.
Do not be fooled by this smoke and mirrors approach to defence. Whilst all other areas of the UK armed forces have been run down, it is these 2 areas, carriers and nuclear subs which have consistently been given the necessary funds, and the boat designs not for a UK National Defence role, but together with France for the projection of sea, air and nuclear forces of an empire, as outlined in the link – Ambitions for EU Defence.
Did it never occur to anyone to question why if we are building such huge carriers at British taxpayers expense, we are not also building the support vessels that a carrier battle group would require. It is because our other, smaller EU member states navies would supply their fleet submarines, destroyers and frigate vessels to fulfil that role in this new EU Navy.
Do not be surprised if these new carriers never carry the White Ensign, I surmise that by the time they are built in 2013, they will only have room on the jack for the ring of stars, but as always with things EU, it will be raised with stealth until it is too late to reverse the process, along with the death knell for the Royal Navy.
The Telegraph is reporting that France is now quite openly advocating an EU military structure and has all but taken the majority of the top seats in this new establishment under Baroness Ashton.
Under the proposal, the EEAS’s secretary general will be in direct “day-to-day” command of the EU’s intelligence, military and crisis response bodies.
Pierre Vimont, Nicolas Sarkozy’s current ambassador to Washington, is the favourite for the job, giving France a powerful lever for its ambition to create a European army.
The French “Sec Gen” would control secretive Brussels bodies, including the EU’s military staff, the civil-military planning cell and the Situation Centre, a clearing house for intelligence gathered by national secret services.
In a separate line of command, Christine Roger, another French official, will be in charge of strategic political and security and coordination, giving France a dominant position.
So much for Blair’s red lines or Cameron’s Red Toryism. Much of this is down to the weakness of Baroness Ashton, and before her Geoff Hoon, both as Defence Minister & Europe Minister admitted that he ignored the rule of law when negotiating articles on European federalism. A useful idiot is the only way I can describe this man, who now, his usefulness to the EU project over, is being thrown to the wolves. May he rot.