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Democrat November-December 2013 (Number 138)

EU's war plans for discussion at December summit

British warplanes and other military assets will be handed over to European Union countries under sweeping plans to create what Conservative MPs believe will become a "Euro Army".

David Cameron is under pressure to block the EU's growing military ambitions, which Tory MPs say pose a threat to Nato and could undermine Britain's "special relationship" with the US.

In what Conservatives fear could be an irreversible step, the Prime Minister is preparing to commit Britain to deeper military cooperation across the EU at a summit in Brussels later this month.

The deal would pave the way for developing a new fleet of unmanned drones, promoting the deployment of EU rapid response battlegroups", and drawing up new cyber warfare and maritime security strategies next year.

Under the plans, the RAF's new Voyager refuelling aircraft is among the assets being earmarked for use by other EU countries under moves towards creating a European Air Force.

EU officials behind the policy argue that it is essential for the EU to develop its military capabilities in order to promote its status as a "global player".

A recent EU training mission to Mali, in which Britain took part, represent just "the beginning", they say.

According to a draft of the deal to be signed at the summit, the leaders of the EU's 28 member countries will declare that "cooperation in the area of military capability development is essential". The draft goes on to pledge and pursue a strategy of "pooling demand" for new military capacity and "harmonising" their defence requirements across the EU.

The document says Member States which agree to the policy will enjoy "guaranteed access to capabilities developed by others" and "...the European Council takes a strong commitment for the further development of a credible and effective Common Security and Defence Policy."

"It calls on Member States to deepen their defence cooperation ... in order to improve the availability of the required civilian and military capabilities."

(Telegraph 6.12.13)