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 Full text 
Tuesday, 4 July 2017 - Strasbourg Revised edition

12. EU defence plan and the future of Europe (topical debate)

  Geoffrey Van Orden, on behalf of the ECR Group . – Madam President, listening to Ms Mogherini and Mr Katainen you would imagine we are starting from scratch on defence. We have very fine, capable armed forces right across Europe. We have a well-tried defence alliance, NATO, which binds the United States to European security and in which, with two very minor exceptions, all the EU Member States are fully involved as members.

So why does the European Union want to create autonomous defence structures? We all know it is about European political integration. That is what it is about. Listening to Ms Mogherini you would imagine that an EU army has already been created, although everyone denies that they want an EU army. So you need to make up your minds, Commissioners. Do you want it or don’t you want it?

What is the latest justification? Well, we used to hear a lot about the comprehensive approach. Interestingly, in this reflection paper on European defence, the words ‘comprehensive approach’ are not mentioned once. Instead we get a new justification and it is all about figures. It is all about the numbers of tanks and aircraft and things being produced across Europe, and invidiously comparing these with the capability of the United States. For example, it says the United States has just one type of main battle tank while the European Union has 17. This, of course, is complete nonsense. Realistically, there are two main battle tanks in Europe – the German Leopard II and the British Challenger II. The same with fighter aircraft: the US has six main types in service, and, according to this, the European Union countries have 20. This is complete nonsense. Basically there are two main fighter aircraft in service in the main European Air Forces – Tornado and Euro Fighter. Some also have the American F-16, of course, and the French went their own way with Rafael and the Mirage 2000 series.

These arguments just do not stand up to scrutiny, and why are you doing this, Commissioners? We all know you should come clean: it is all about political integration.

Last updated: 7 December 2017Legal notice