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Militarising the EU: One of the articles of the Constitution allows for the death penalty to be introduced "in time of war or of imminent threat of war".

The constitution certainly gives plenty of scope for conflict. Put bluntly, the constitution develops an armed wing for the EU, complete with its own military-industrial complex, which will fight resource wars in the interests of the biggest European military powers, namely Britain, France and Germany.

Moreover, Tony Blair's foreign policy guru Robert Cooper openly promotes a new form of direct European military colonialism. He claims that this new imperialism will require us to get used to "double standards". "When dealing with old-fashioned states outside the postmodern continent of Europe, we need to revert to the rougher methods of an earlier era - force, preemptive attack, deception, whatever is necessary to deal with those who still live in the nineteenth century world of every state for itself," he says.

For Brussels this means developing an EU rapid reaction force that will carry out military operations in the interests of "Europe". EU Chief of military staff Lieutenant General Rainer Schuwirth insists for that to develop "national governments have to give away their authority over their army" and EU must be "deepened", as envisaged within the EU constitution.

If brought into force, the constitution will demand that member states "actively, unreservedly and loyally" support a single foreign and military policy. This power is, of course, one of the major attributes of a state, along with a head of state, a single currency and a framework of law. The constitution provides for all these attributes despite the fact there has been no popular call for them to exist at all.

The constitution also formally ends the military neutrality of Ireland, Denmark, Sweden and Austria, also without asking the citizens of those states. The text replaces the Nice Treaty provision that the progressive framing of a common defence policy "might lead to a common defence, should the European Council so decide" with the provision of the constitution that it "will lead to a common defence, when the European Council, acting unanimously, so decides".

Article 1.40 lays down that "before undertaking any action on the international scene each member state shall consult the others within the European Council or the Council," constitutionally precluding member states from conducting an independent foreign policy. The constitution does allow for sub-groups of states, ie the most powerful ones, to use EU institutions for closer military integration amongst themselves in a mechanism known as "structured cooperation".

The constitution does not require EU military actions to be in accordance with the United Nations Charter, which is the foundation of international law. In other words, the EU reserves the right to ignore the Charter if need be. In order to become a global superpower, the EU is working closely with the United States while also developing its own military capability to operate independently of Washington. For instance, currently the EU is seeking to undermine the US monopoly in satellite positioning technology.

Washington's GPS system is being challenged by the EU's rival system called Galileo which is designed to be operational by 2008 with multiple military applications. Counterweight or imperial partner? Many pundits have promoted the belief that the militarisation of a nascent European superstate will be a force for good, capable of reining in the excesses of US imperialism.

However, leaving aside the problems inherent in binding 25 separate countries with very different international policy outlooks and interests to advance, it should not be assumed with EU enlargement that a persistently anti-Bush majority exists in Brussels. Many of the governments of the east European entrants supported the illegal attacks on Iraq. Moreover, EU foreign policy tsar Javier Solana has declared that EU military force should be used, alongside the US, against any sovereign state to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, thereby retrospectively sanctifying the illegal attacks on Iraq.

"We should be able to sustain several operations at the same time. We must develop a culture that fosters early, rapid and robust intervention" he says. He claims the EU/US western alliance is a "formidable force for good in the world". So much for the nebulous European political and military "counterweight" to Washington. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament recognises the dangers of EU militarisation and recently voted to oppose the EU constitution. The constitution also sets up a new Armaments Development Agency, which the Foreign Office admits will promote higher military spending by EU taxpayers.

Interestingly, the pro-EU group Britain in Europe appointed a new chairman in 2005, the far right wing ex-Tory MP Antony Nelson. As Tory trade minister, he approved export papers for Hawk jets to Indonesia and had a history of giving succour to the Apartheid regime. He expressed "distaste" at the BBC's screening of the Mandela tribute concert in 1988 and described the ANC as "terrorists". He is presently in talks with several weapons manufacturers to win financial backing to fight for a yes vote in any referendum on the EU constitution.

The companies being targeted by BiE's fundraisers include French arms manufacturers Thales, Franco-German arms giant EADS and US arms firms Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Now why would these arms companies pour funds into campaigns to promote the EU constitution? Could it be that the plans for a European army, a single EU foreign policy that must be "loyally" supported and the development of a lavishly state-subsidised military-industrial complex might just be in their interests?

To understand the politics of EU militarisation, it is necessary to listen to the voices of target nations in the resource-rich but grindingly poor un-developing world. Namibian President Sam Nujoma has clearly defined this new European military strategy: "These Europeans, they have formed a political union and again they want to get our raw material without paying us." Articles relating to EU militarism Article I-16 states: "Member states shall actively and unreservedly support the Union's common foreign and security policy in a spirit of loyalty and mutual solidarity".

Article I-41: "The common security and defence policy ... shall provide the Union with an operational capacity drawing on assets civil and military. The Union may use them on missions outside the Union."

Article III-309: "The tasks referred to in Article I-40 (1), in the course of which the Union may use civilian and military means".

Article III-311 founds a "European Armaments, Research and Military Capabilities Agency".

Article 11-62 (explanations) states the death penalty can be introduced "in respect of acts committed in time of war or of imminent threat of war"