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European Union
November 14, 2017

Analysis: Why Europe’s post-Brexit defence club will be more paper tiger than EU army

Henry Jackson Society

Some 23 EU member states, led by France and Germany, have signed up to an ambitious EU-wide defence co-operation plan which they hope will create a European defence identity after Brexit.

But what is this new defence union in reality? Is it the “EU army” that many eurosceptics predicted? Or is it a bureaucratic paper tiger that will never take the field?

Looking further ahead, some strategic analysts question whether a successful PESCO could become a rival to the US-UK defence axis that has been so dominant in Nato since the end of the Second World War.

For James Rogers, the director of the Global Britain programme at the Henry Jackson Society that looks at the future of British foreign and defence policy, the combination of EU integration, Brexit and the US ‘turning away’ towards China and the Indo-Pacific, risks leaving Britain on the sidelines.

“The risk from PESCO is not an ‘EU army’ but the creation of a rival, European defence focus group over time, since the logic of integration is always more integration,” he says. “The risk is that the EU position becomes much more integrated and solidified, and much harder for the US and the UK to engage.”

Read more in the Telegraph