Last week, Ursula von der Leyen, serving German Defence Minister, spelled out her vision for EU Defence Union. In response, the two Tory leadership candidates, the Brexit Party, as well as the rest of British politics and the media, said absolutely nothing.
Von der Leyen had been visiting the European Parliament in an effort to persuade the sceptics there that she is the best person to succeed Jean Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission.
Described as the ‘compromise’ candidate, following weeks of argument and negotiation between EU Heads of State at the European Council, her nomination was narrowly confirmed at a vote in the European Parliament on this evening, which makes her comments from last week even more important.
And it was as she began her efforts to convince European Parliamentarians of her suitability as the next President of the Commission that she chose EU Defence Union as her main platform.
In the process, she confirmed the main components of the unification process which the UK Column has been highlighting since 2010.
Single Point Command and Control
“I want to talk about four components … which I believe are important for setting up a European Defence Union,” she said. “First of all, just two or three weeks ago, for the first time, we were able to give the green light for a European command capacity in Brussels. That is the first time that military and civil instruments would be commanded together, where these commands would actually come from one single command office.
“This is a major step forward. It was unthinkable a short while ago, but it’s precisely the right approach to have if we want a European flavour to our defence policy.”
Here, in her first point, is the core of what EU Defence Union is, and what it is not.
It is not an EU Army.
It is the unification of member states’ national militaries under a single EU-level command structure.
The original German word she used was “Kommandozentrale” – a new word meaning command centre.
It is quite unlike NATO, which is an organisation of collective defence for sovereign member states.