Geoffrey Van Orden – CBE, is a British MEP and member of the ECR Group in the European Parliament.
What impact will Brexit have on the security architecture of the EU and NATO in Europe?
The UK has world-renowned security and intelligence agencies. It is also the preeminent military power in Europe with full-spectrum armed forces with global reach, Europe's largest defence budget, and its biggest defence research capability. The first of two new aircraft-carriers for the Royal Navy will soon enter operational service.
The UK is a key member of the NATO alliance that provides credible deterrence and the ultimate defence guarantee for Europe. The UK has also been at the forefront of shaping the arrangements that underpin our internal security co-operation, contributing enormously to the development of measures to combat terrorism, including expedited extradition, mutual legal assistance, and operational co-operation between law enforcement agencies on a bi-lateral and multi-lateral basis, as well as a major input into shared databases. It is in all our interests to find ways to maximise the continuity of these defence and security arrangements when the UK leaves the EU, after all it is not leaving Europe.
The UK's massive security and defence capabilities, its geographical proximity to its European neighbours, the volume of cross-border movements between us, and the high degree of alignment in the scale and nature of threats faced, together warrant the development of an innovative, ambitious model of cooperation different to anything the EU has used before.
This requires goodwill and flexibility on the EU side, features that have been seriously missing in the Brexit negotiations so far. It is important that Britain and the EU have a good, positive relationship of cooperation and partnership in the future. Unfortunately, the EU approach adopted so far has only soured this relationship.
Furthermore, there is great danger that EU defence policy – setting up its own duplicative structures and pushing for "strategic autonomy" – will lead to greater separation between the US and the Europe. This is precisely the aim of Russia. Instead, we should all be making every effort to strengthen Western solidarity and revitalise the great strategic Atlantic Alliance that is NATO.
EU defence policy is primarily about political integration and the creation of a European superstate, not additional, credible military capabilities. We understand that, largely for historical reasons, Germany has a different view of the EU to the view taken by the UK. However, we are two pragmatic, law-based, free market, democratic countries, with a shared history in so many respects. We need greater mutual understanding. But it is clear that we must make every effort to work closely together in the future.
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