Britain vows to fight united force plan
Missing are remembered
A demonstrator dressed as a clown and with the number 43 painted on her face poses for a photo during a protest march in Mexico City. Monday’s march was held on the second anniversary of the disappearance of 43 students from the Rural Normal School at Ayotzinapa. The government’s initial investigation decided the students were killed and incinerated in a fire. But international experts have cast doubt on this theory. European Union nations are pressing ahead with plans to boost military cooperation as Britain vows to oppose the creation of an EU army or headquarters.
With Britain leaving the EU, France and Germany have been spear - heading moves to boost Europe’s capacity to run its own security operations.
Britain insists the NATO military alliance is the only forum for European security, and London has routinely blocked deeper EU cooperation in the past.
“We’re going to oppose any idea of an EU army or an EU army headquarters, which would simply undermine NATO,” British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said ahead of EU defence talks in Slovakia yesterday.
He stopped short of threatening a veto, saying only that “there is no majority here for an EU army”.
Despite staunch support for NATO, Britain must tread warily as it prepares to negotiate its departure from the EU. Once the UK officially triggers its exit, London and the EU will have two years to agree on the terms for leaving. Playing hardball on defence when it is leaving anyway could undermine the negotiating goodwill of its partners. French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said there is a “need to boost European capacity” for EU operations.
“We are in a very strong FrancoGerman relationship and we think we will be able to make significant progress before the end of the year,” he said, standing alongside German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen.
Von der Leyen insisted that “it’s not about a European army”.
EU troops have been training police and security forces in Afghanistan, Mali, Somalia and elsewhere, and recently agreed to train the Libyan coastguard.
Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief who is chairing the talks, said the EU’s treaties do not allow a European army to be created. She said the attendance of NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Bratislava is a sign that the EU and NATO are working closely together.