Report on the Conference at South Bank University, 9th December 1999.

This is a personal summary of the more salient and interesting bits. Think of it as a collection of jigsaw pieces - but they probably do not add up to the full picture. You will have to form your own perspective.

Even though (at least) one speaker was a firm federalist, there was a fair bit of scepticism from the floor. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of antagonism to the EU/EMU from students, even those from 'subsidised' countries like Spain & Greece.

- Brian Mooney, New Alliance.


PROF ANDREA BOSCO, SOUTH BANK UNIVERSITY, in his Introduction stated that the EU was building a European army independent of NATO. It would serve as an international police force, and should be 'democratically controlled' by the Council of Ministers and European Parliament.



Questioned whether Kosovo had been a victory or a defeat for NATO. The affair has increased Chinese and Russian suspicion of NATO. A problem is not a 'defence' role, but an 'offensive' policy.

Kosovo had increased the risk of [Serb] urban terrorism in the West. It had also made strategic bombing

respectable' - with less casualty risks to the proponents - we have since had Beirut & Chechnya.

A proposed EU force of 60,000 troops implies twice this number extra - in training, recovering from action, etc. We are already stretched politically, economically & militarily in Kosovo. Opposes increasing the military presence as it will make the world more dangerous. Money could be better spent elsewhere.

The USA does not want OSCE to take over from NATO.



Collapse of the USSR shattered Western Europe's political structure, and left NATO in need of a role. West Europeans now 'believe NATO is a promoter of Western values'.

Expanding NATO in Europe will create internal tensions, but if the Euro is to be a stable currency, it needs a political base - it will need a West European defence base. Germany is pivotal, cannot speak for Europe without France.. France learned in Bosnia they didn't have the muscle to lead Europe militarily. France originally opposed action in Bosnia without a UN mandate, but changed position.

The USA insists on the US/NATO right to have nuclear weapons in NATO bases in Poland. It can make moves to freeze Western Europe's relationship with Russia.



In 1990s, UK has asked USA to play a leading role in European defence. Although UK was against duplicating NATO capabilities, helped create WEU [embryo EU defence body] structures in 1996. Sweden, Finland not keen on a European force. Germany has locally based forces, but they are not experienced enough to deal with all types of disputes.

UK now feels since Cologne summit, 1998, that more peacekeeping muscle is needed, independent of USA. Madeleine Albright is worried by "EU autonomous action", but less so if UK in the driving seat.

UK now wrestling with issue of transferring WEU into EU (Community control) and playing a part in EU structures that duplicate NATO. UK believes NATO not under threat.

Alain Juppe, France, wants 50,000 troops deployed from each major EU state, but this will need more spending against defence cut trends. Current Helsinki discussions will continue for a year and may eventually dovetail into IGC proposals.



European Strategic Defence Policy ("ESDP", formerly ESDI) is a 50 year old French dream. EU capacity depends on UK-France co-operation; Tony Blair agreed at St Malo, 1998 that the EU should have an autonomous capability.

1999 UK Defence Minister, Geoff Hoon, framed agreement as 'bringing France back into NATO'. However agreement goes beyond European capability, includes 'synergies & specialisation in procurement', 'EU collaboration and rationalisation of defence industries'. French concern on Europe lagging USA in capacity and want necessary duplication.

ESDP will be run by Political & Security Committee. Javier Solana to chair. France believes that the autonomous unit must be subject to UN mandate (NB action could be vetoed by UN Security Council).

[Floor discussion - view that French military leaders support NATO structure, French politicians want to undermine it. Another comment, mentioning Eberle/Royal Intitute of International Affairs, is that the French have been trying to reduce the UK to insignificance in defence for over 300 years.

Next floor comment that with budgets under pressure, EU states were aiming to achieve more by pooling resources and cutting out national duplication. Another that France had maintained a high level of military spending to 1995 and may see opportunities for its own high tech defence industries]



"A single European army is not military, it is political".

European leaders created the Euro to replace the Deutsche Mark as a means of removing national budgets, thus preventing war. There is no scope for a national defence policy in Europe.

The EU with the USA must finance a world order, the nucleus of a world government, otherwise they will 'import instability'. EU President Prodi believes that one day Russia, being a democracy, could be admitted to a 'single European army'.

"The EU is not a geographical initiative, it is a political system - one day Morocco may join"

"The European army will not be nationally financed - it will be financed by the European Commission. President Prodi will increase budget contributions from 1.2% to 4% [of GDP assumed?] and build a small and efficient army.

[Floor comment that it will be our money as we pay for the European Commission. Floor comment from European Movement officer that it would be wrong to associate the European Commission with a European defence force, as it does not have the background to cope].

[In answer to question about the threat of 'importing instability' if countries like Hungary join the EU, as Russian mafiosi have already become Hungarian citizens and set up violent criminal operations in Budapest, c.f. Panorama, BBC TV, 6 December. Bosco replied that this should be dealt with by a European Police Force].

[Floor comment that if the UK transferred defence from Government to private sector, the USA would no longer share its defence secrets with us, due to security risk]



On how wars of the future might be fought. Traced history of war:

* 18th C - outmanoeuvring enemy, trying to avoid conflict, use of sieges. However mercenaries had less of a role in society; armies pillaged, destroyed, did not spare opponents.

* 19th C. Coalitions stable rather than flexible

* Nowadays. More professional armies. Public demand casualty-free war [on own side] - this bolstered approval of air strikes. Hence 40% of sorties against Serbs to take radars and ground-to-air missiles first. President Clinton says that the only wars will be humanitarian wars.

UK short of 5,000 men, and having to recruit in prisons, 1,500 soldiers leave each year, feel we don't value military service enough. The UK is now building its aircraft carriers to fit in with American specifications. Alistair Campbell had asked for all the papers to be sent to him directly, but the general concerned refused to co-operate!

Wider world military initiatives tend to be regional - e.g. Australian troops went into East Timor.



Rumania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Latvia, & Lithuania's governments want to join the EU, but their economies may take 10+ years to get into shape and qualify. There could be a backlash against pro-West policies. NATO membership could be important.

Russia has been positive towards enlargement of EU but not NATO. Reasons historical, also due to NATO role in Bosnia, Kosovo. Never had problems with EU.

Relations between West and Russia will have tensions in the next few years. NATO & Russia will want to avoid a conflagration. Russia may also be concerned by the EU's growing defence potential.

Although the West is in a dominant position in Central & Eastern Europe, Kosovo showed its limitations.

USA may be able to rent former Soviet transport aircraft from Ukraine. EU applicants in Eastern Europe might have a chip for joining if they can integrate armed/specialist forces into EU defences. Particularly Poland, to offset its agricultural difficulties.

Next round of US and Russian presidential elections will be important.

Turkey unlikely to be admitted to EU within 10 years - this will produce adverse Turkish reactions.


VASSILIS FOUSKAS, KINGSTON UNIVERSITY spoke mainly on the Balkan crisis & Greece.

USA is interested in Balkans, after being guaranteed the use of Turkey to bomb Iraq from. A little known fact revealed by Associated Press in Washington

Greece ('state' not 'Government') was opposed to the Kosovo war, firstly as Greek business was heavily involved in Bosnia, and secondly because she believed that any change of borders would ignite the Balkans.

Greece and Turkey do not want to see the EU being a player on the world stage. Blair sees a global role for UK, a 'Third Way' in Foreign Policy.

Common Agricultural Policy will be destroyed if prices in Turkey need to be supported


Date this page was updated: 4 March 2000

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