The recent announcement by British Prime Minister Liz Truss that Britain would be more involved militarily with the European Union's Permanent Structured Co-operation (PESCO) framework, despite having left the union, has divided Eurosceptics, with one senior figure arguing it was the right one, not least for the potential defense of Estonia, British paper The Express reports.
Mark Francois, who now chairs the Tory (Conservative Party) Brexiteer (pro-leave) the European Research Group (ERG) said: "As we are outside the EU, we can opt in to individual PESCO projects if they have merit and looking at how we could speed up reinforcing the Baltic States from the UK, across internal EU borders, may well have military advantages," The Express reported on its website recently.
"However, it is NATO that remains the bedrock of our security, especially in deterring further Russian adventurism and we should never forget that," Francois went on, at at time when the UK Government opted to enter the strand in case the country, as a NATO ally, has to defend Estonia and the other two Baltic States from any potential Russian invasion or incursion, seen as a heightened risk in the wake of the February 24 invasion of Ukraine, by the Russian Federation.
Former British Defense Secretary: PESCO move likely irreversible, may be step toward formal, unified EU army
Liz Truss, who visited Estonia and the military base at Tapa late last year when she was Foreign Secretary, has committed the UK to joining up with PESCO following a summit in Prague held by French premier Emmanuel Macron, a move met with unanimous approval from EU member states, but which has prompted fears from some Eurosceptic wings of her party over a potential erosion of sovereignty, due to what they say is its permanent nature and its pointing towards a future, theoretical EU army.
A former British Defense Secretary and leading Brexiteer Sir Gerald Howarth has long spearheaded a campaign opposed to joining PESCO for the above reasons and also due to fears that it could undermine NATO at a time of great tension.
The original Express piece is here.
Britain formally left the EU on January 31 2020, though military cooperation with EU member states was inevitably going to continue, or even deepen, even before the February 24 invasion of Ukraine by Russia.
Estonia joined the EU in 2004 and is a PESCO contributing nation.
EU and NATO member Denmark, which regularly contributes to the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup in Estonia, does not participated in PESCO.
Editor: Andrew Whyte
Source: The Express