Corporate Finance Advisory and Consulting    © 2013 Hartland Capital - All rights reserved Terms and Conditions | Disclaimer What Future for EU Defence?  Despite the intensity of the debate around Brexit, the discussion has centred on a few issues such as economics,  immigration and sovereignty, whereas other topics like defence are more or less ignored today as they have been  since the debate started. Yet though it might not seem it at first, Britain’s departure could have serious  consequences for defence on the Continent.   This is in large part due to the conjunction of several international factors. Firstly, Brexit has been oddly  welcomed by some European federalists who saw Britain as a reluctant member that was only slowing down the  process of integration, including on defence matters; now that it is gone, they think, the project of the United  States of Europe can really get going. One important sign is the plan for an EU army, such as Jean-Claude Juncker  proposed in September 2016 and about which Brussels is increasingly disinhibited.  At the same time, in America, it seems the right is going back to its isolationist tradition, most visibly in the form  of Donald Trump’s victory. The popular momentum that brought him is not about to disappear especially as it fits  in his more general narrative of focusing policy on America’s more direct interests (of which protectionism and  tight border control are another facet).   What does it mean for Europe? Since 1945, NATO has been the main security umbrella of which the United States  is by far the primary agent; not only that, but many EU countries, like Germany or the Baltic states, rely almost  entirely on GIs for their external security. Germany, for example, has no less than thirty-five thousand US troops  on its soil. A retraction of NATO, even partial, would leave defence vacuum in much of the Continent.  That vacuum could be filled by the EU army – or conversely an EU army could make NATO’s presence redundant  - and this leads us to the core of the issue. As of now there are only two countries on the Western European  continent with serious military capabilities of their own: France and the UK. Post-Brexit, that leaves only one EU  country with a substantial force.   Thus what would happen under an integrated commandment of EU forces, of the same kind as NATO? That joint  force would logically be controlled by EU institutions in Brussels, which are in turn largely influenced by the  greatest economic power in Europe, i.e. Germany; yet just like NATO is dominated by America because it has the  mightiest army, the EU army HQ would be dominated by the strongest among its powers, France, creating a  system with two main centres of power that do not necessarily have the same foreign policy objectives.   Brussels essentially follows Washington’s policy choices, certainly so when it comes to Russia and Eastern  European countries; on the other hand, France has a long tradition inherited from de Gaulle of non-alignment with  the US foreign policy and French public opinion is increasingly frustrated with Hollande and his predecessor’s  keenness to break with that tradition. Therefore, such an integrated EU commandment would be rather  dysfunctional since it only stands to reason that a single army must serve a single foreign policy. More likely it  would have to follow the designs of the government in Paris, just like today NATO does of Washington’s.  In order to align the centres of political and military power and avoid that problem, other big EU countries would  have to build up their forces as well, particularly Germany.   However, for one thing, this might create for Germany some difficulty for historical reasons. Building up an army  in Germany does bring back memories that led to the EU’s creation in the first place. More importantly, Germany  has adopted since the end of the Second World War a deliberate and principled policy of pacifism, in the same  way and for the same reasons Japan has. Attempts at rebuilding a mighty military would certainly result in the type  of social uproar that occurred when Shinzo Abe proposed just that in his own country.   In short, the acceleration in the military integration of Europe that is likely to follow Brexit along with a possible  retraction of Uncle Sam’s umbrella would make Europe more involved in its own defence. Whether it will actually  be an army of all EU nations or just a replacement of the American umbrella by the French one depends on the  willingness of EU governments to overcome the economic and social obstacles that stand in the way. In either  case, when Winston Churchill imagined the United States of Europe, what is often left out is that he envisioned a  real military unity for the Continent only and that the UK was “with this Europe, not of it”. So perhaps it is not  surprising that the June referendum will help bring this about in the end.  Clement Julhia Political Analyst +44 (0)7 392 322 476 Clement Julhia | September 2017