Staying inside would allow the UK to keep a pivotal role in areas like the Galileo satellite system and anti-Piracy initiativesby Shashank Joshi / July 16, 2018 / Leave a comment
Published in August 2018 issue of Prospect Magazine
We’re set to leave the EU at a moment of extraordinary geopolitical tumult. A transatlantic trade war looms, President Trump postures against America’s traditional allies, and Russia and China are probing Europe’s soft spots. No wonder European defence is finding a second wind.
Military spending on the continent is rising faster than anywhere else, and concrete new initiatives—like -Permanent Structured Co-operation, which covers logistics, maritime surveillance and more—are firming up.
As former MI6 chief John Sawers told Prospect in February, Britain risks sliding “adrift” into a third tier of powers in this fragmenting world.
This creates one of the many ironies of Brexit: a newly lonely UK, once the most dogged sceptics of EU defence co-operation, is belatedly realising its value, and clambering to keep a foothold.
Staying inside would allow the UK to keep a pivotal role in areas like the Galileo satellite system, and see off talk of blowing billions on an unnecessary alternative.
It would enable access to cash from pots like the €4.5bn European Defence Fund, rather than having British firms being squeezed out by “buy European” rules. And it would permit continued British leadership of the anti-piracy mission in the Horn of Africa.
Critics dismiss EU defence policy because Nato does the heavy lifting. The EU is unlikely to wade into high-intensity combat, but carefully-calibrated joint action on the continent’s troubled peripheries could become increasingly important.