The euroblogger Jon Worth - @jonworth on Twitter – made me notice the Telegraph article by Bruno Waterfield: 'Big Five' tell Baroness Ashton to bypass Britain over EU military HQ.
Jon also had the kindness to point out that my old blog post about the legal base for deeper military cooperation between willing member states turned up first on Google search: EU Treaty of Lisbon: Permanent structured cooperation (1 February 2008).
Permanent structured cooperation history
My blog post offers the drafting history of permanent structured cooperation within the EU framework at treaty level, without dramatics.
I can only marvel at the editorial style of The Telegraph, but I think that a few comments are in order after the government of the United Kingdom vetoed the establishment of the military HQ for the European Union. See EUobserver: UK snubs Ashton over EU military headquarters (19 July 2011).
The common security and defence policy (CSDP) of the European Union is an integral part of its common foreign and security policy (CFSP) (Article 42(1) TEU).
The common security and defence policy shall include the progressive framing of a common EU defence policy. This will lead to a common defence when the European Council, acting unanimously, so decides (Article 42(2) TEU).
There are still a few EU member states which describe themselves as neutral or non-aligned, there is the United Kingdom and perhaps a few other special cases.
CSDP permanent structured cooperation
Thus, the intergovernmental conference leading to the Treaty of Lisbon agreed on a formula to satisfy the countries with shared and higher ambitions in the military field.
If their military capabilities fulfil higher criteria and they have made more binding commitments to one another in the military area with a view to the most demanding missions, they shall establish permanent structured cooperation within the EU framework (Article 42(6) TEU).
Since the UK veto on the EU military headquarters prevents progress for the union as a whole, the advance group of willing countries has set in motion the procedure to establish permanent structured cooperation among themselves, according to the procedures outlined in Article 46 TEU and Protocol (No 10) on permanent structured cooperation established by Article 42 of the Treaty on European Union.
The British nationality of the EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Catherine Ashton, is totally irrelevant. It is her duty to act in accordance with the EU Treaties.
European defence, NATO and the UK
If I have understood correctly, the cash-strapped US administration is experiencing a severe case of imperial overreach, and they have clamoured for the Europeans to take responsibility for their common defence, while preserving the fundamental transatlantic bridge through the NATO alliance.
It is sad that the United Kingdom, with its military know-how and resources, is dead set against participation, so the willing countries have to proceed with what they have. One more EU core is in the making.
The EU military HQ issue is but a small step, but sooner or later it will hopefully lead to a common European defence, the long term aim of the Treaty on European Union.