Why should a trading bloc need an army?

Graham Charles Lear
4 min readAug 26, 2019

The EU is celebrating 20 years of military build-up

20 years ago in the summer of 1999, the EU Council met in Cologne, Germany, and set out its vision for its new common EU policy on security and defence.

“We, the members of the European Council, are resolved that the European Union shall play its full role on the international stage. To that end, we intend to give the European Union the necessary means and capabilities to assume its responsibilities regarding a common European policy on security and defence.”

Conclusions of the Presidency, EU Council, Cologne, June 1999

The EU and its anniversaries

The Eurocrats in Brussels like their anniversaries. When these involve something they are proud of — and which they think the public will approve of — anniversaries are celebrated with some style and prominence.

Sometimes the anniversaries are less well-promoted and garner a little less attention. This generally happens when the subject is not something which any EU citizen thinks they ever voted for.

Last week in Brussels, we saw one of the latter type.

“20 years of EU security and defence”

The EU has something called the ‘European External Action Service’ (EEAS). This is a very significant part of the Brussels machine. So much so that its head is given the title “High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission”.

In effect, this position combines the power of the British Foreign Secretary, Secretary of State for Defence, and the co-Deputy Prime Minister — all in one person. In fact, the position goes one step further in its orbit of power, as it includes being the head of the ‘European Defence Agency’.

Technically, as a bureaucrat, the role needs political oversight by the political leaders of the EU28, but in reality, it pushes for maximum power and then uses it.

All these roles are currently held by former Communist Federica Mogherini. Naturally, she was not elected to her role by popular mandate, as with all EU Commissioners.

Celebrating 20 years of “EU security and defence two months late

Last week the EEAS announced the 20th anniversary of the decisions taken in Cologne on 3–4 June 1999.

Here is what Ms. Mogherini is quoted as saying in the EU’s statement:-“On defence, we have shown that this Union knows how to deliver if there is political will. In some cases, we have achieved even more than we hoped and expected in this field.” These results, however, “need to be consolidated, and the new possibilities that we have opened in these last three, four years can be now explored and expanded. This requires unity of purpose, determination and, most of all, political will.

Federica Mogherini, June 2019

Another anniversary — 15 years of the ‘European Defence Agency’

Just two weeks after the 20th anniversary of the Cologne Summit in 1999 there was another anniversary. This time it was the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the ‘European Defence Agency’ (EDA).

The EDA was formed five years after the infamous Cologne Summit, in 2004. At the 15th anniversary celebrations, the EU’s de facto Foreign Secretary, Secretary of State for Defence, co-Deputy Prime Minister, and head of the ‘European Defence Agency’ said this.

“European defence is the only way to confirm our role as a global force for good and a global security provider.”

Federica Mogherini, June 2019

After 20 years, MPs cannot say that they were not informed. Those Remainer MPs who talk constantly about jobs and trade might want to give a moment’s thought to all the other aspects of the European Union.

Two key aspects are the EU’s long fight for military muscle, and its common foreign policy objective to use it.

In 1972, I would suggest that no-one voted to be run by a dominant, unelected body seeking to be “a global security provider”.

[ Sources: EEAS | EU Parliament | EU Council ]



Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.