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11 mars 2015 3 11 /03 /mars /2015 17:50
UK MoD Denies Spending Cuts, European Army

 

March 11th, 2015 By UK Ministry of Defence - defencetalk.com

 

Discussion around the level of defence spending over the next Parliament continued to attract media coverage over the weekend and into the start of this week. A report in The Financial Times suggested that senior military figures were not expecting the next government to maintain spending at 2% of GDP.

 

According to independent defence analysts quoted in the report, the UK economy is expected to grow 12% in the next Parliament which would mean MOD spending £20bn more on defence than it currently plans to if the 2% of GDP rate was continued.

 

Today’s coverage focuses on a report by Professor Malcolm Chalmers of RUSI which speculates that the Army could be cut further with budgets potentially cut by up to 10% in the next parliament. The report suggests that because of commitments to programmes such as the new aircraft carriers and Joint Strike Fighter, the Army could face the brunt of the budgetary pressure.

 

However, the Prime Minister has previously said that he does not want to see our regular armed services reduced below the level that they are now and remains committed to growing the Reserves to 35,000.

 

The Government has said the UK continues to deliver the second largest defence budget in NATO and the largest in the EU and is committed to spending 2% of GDP on defence with decisions on spending after the financial year 2015/16 to be determined in the next spending review.

 

“Over the next decade, the Government has committed to spending £163 billion on equipment and equipment support to keep Britain safe. That includes new strike fighters; more surveillance aircraft; hunter killer submarines; two aircraft carriers; and the most advanced armoured vehicles.

 

EU Army

 

Various outlets covered comments made by the EU Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, calling for the creation of an EU army. Mr Juncker said such an army would restore the European Union’s foreign policy standing and show it is serious about defending its values, suggesting destabilising Russian military action in the east of Ukraine had made the case for a European combined force more compelling.

 

In response, a UK Government spokesman said:

 

“Our position is crystal clear that defence is a national, not an EU responsibility and that there is no prospect of that position changing and no prospect of a European army.”

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11 mars 2015 3 11 /03 /mars /2015 17:50
photo  European Parliament

photo European Parliament

 

March 11th, 2015 defencetalk.com (AFP)

 

Polish and Latvian officials on Tuesday voiced scepticism over calls for a European Union army to counter a militarily resurgent Russia.

 

“It’s a very risky idea,” Polish Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna told Poland’s private Radio Zet in reaction to Sunday’s proposal by European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker.

 

Juncker, a former Luxembourg prime minister, called for the creation of an EU army following rising tensions with Russia, saying the force could help counter new threats beyond the bloc’s borders and defend European values.

 

“First of all we have to ask where to raise money to finance such an army, how the combat units will work, who will be in charge of training them,” Schetyna said.

 

His sentiments were echoed by Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma on Monday.

 

“There is a possibility it could be discussed in July at the European Council, but it’s important to check whether this might be duplicating NATO,” she told Latvian public broadcaster LTV.

 

Ex-communist Poland joined NATO in 1999 ahead of the three former Soviet-ruled Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania which joined in 2004.

 

They have all urged the alliance to boost its presence in the region since Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula last year.

 

NATO is countering Moscow’s moves by boosting defences on Europe’s eastern flank with a spearhead force of 5,000 troops and command centres in six formerly communist members, including the three Baltic states and Bulgaria, Poland and Romania.

 

General Stanislaw Koziej, a security adviser to Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski, said Juncker’s idea was an impractical “dream”.

 

“These days, nobody in Europe, no single country is contemplating giving up its sovereignty,” said Koziej.

 

“To have an army, you need first of all a political decision-maker who would deploy such an army,” added the general, urging further political integration of Europe first.

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11 mars 2015 3 11 /03 /mars /2015 12:50
Britain Rejects EU Army Proposal

 

March 10, 2015 By Julian Hale – Defense News

 

BRUSSELS — The UK has strongly rejected any possibility of a European army being created following a proposal along those lines made by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

 

"Our position is crystal clear that defence is a national, not an EU, responsibility and that there is no prospect of that position changing and no prospect of a European army," said a UK government spokesperson.

 

However, in a recent press statement, the European Federalist Party (EFP) welcomed the proposal to create a European army to face the threat represented by an increasingly assertive Russia as well as other security threats.

 

"Of course any army must be under democratic oversight, which requires the European Union to make a step further in the process of European integration towards a federal Europe with a stronger role for the European Parliament," said Pietro De Matteis, the president of the European Federalist Party.

 

Daniel Keohane, research director at the European think tank FRIDE, said he does not see it as a feasible proposal.

 

"There's no point in talking about an army unless you're talking about a federal state," Keohane told Defense News. "You need to be clear who is the political authority controlling it and who pays for it."

 

Keohane argued that the idea of military integration across the EU is a good one as "we have a demilitarization problem in the EU and falling defense budgets.This is what pooling and sharing in the EU is all about. But the drivers behind that integration have to be the national governments and not the EU institutions. That's the difficulty with the proposal."

 

While he said he can see why a committed federalist like Juncker wants to put the idea on the table, it is not "politically or militarily very realistic," Keohane said.

 

"I don't think it'll have much impact on the nuts and bolts of the EU defense debate as the Commission only plays a small role in that," he said. "Defense policy is really an intergovernmental area. More important is what EU governments will discuss at their June summit, where they are expected to discuss defense policy, and if anything new comes out of that, especially in terms of pooling and sharing. Without EU countries pooling more money, it is difficult to see how capabilities can improve much."

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