Prime Minister Theresa May signalled her desire for continued security cooperation with the EU in her Florence Speech. She has subsequently built on that desire in numerous speeches, including in Munich and at the Mansion House in London. But the UK government's willingness to coordinate with the EU should not be blind. Its response to a recent petition signed by over 14,000 people raises questions about whether the Government is willing to sacrifice our freedom in order to follow the EU's agenda.
In her Florence Speech, Theresa May said that the UK government wanted a 'new era of cooperation and partnership' between the UK and the EU. In her speech at the Munich Security Conference in February this year, she mentioned the creation of 'a new security partnership' between the UK and the EU. In her speech at Mansion House, the Prime Minister set out the probability that 'if we agree that the UK should continue to participate in an EU agency the UK would have to respect the remit of the ECJ in that regard'. All three speeches created a greater understanding (if not concern) over the government's view with regards to UK cooperation with the EU in matters that concern security, defence, crime and justice measures.
Not all of these policies will help ensure the freedom of the UK, its legal traditions or the safety of its people. On the domestic front, for instance, Theresa May is wrong to remain wedded to the European Arrest Warrant. Further, I certainly have concerns about the influence of EU agencies over the UK post-Brexit. As such, the government's response to a petition calling for the UK to leave 'all defence rules, policies and structures on 29/03/2019' has been predictably disappointing. However, it has raised serious concerns over the government's willingness to sacrifice the UK's freedom in order to secure a deal with the EU.
A key phrase in its response to the petition came in the last paragraph:
'We want the EU to succeed in its foreign and security policy goals, which we share, as made clear in the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015 and the 2016 EU Global Strategy.'
A look at the EU's Global Strategy should highlight just how concerned we should be that the government shares the EU's policy goals in these areas.
In it, the EU lists its priorities and details how 'The EU will act at all stages of the conflict cycle' (implying that an EU Army may well become a reality) and that its 'aspiration [is] to transform rather than to simply preserve the existing system', especially in relation to 'global governance'.
The truth is that this document illustrates an empire-like desire for control over others - policy goals that the UK government should not 'share'.
The EU's desire to nation-build is well known. For many years it gave money to Presidents Assad (Syria), Erdoğan (Turkey) and Lukashenko (Belarus) - often for work on such areas as 'good governance' - in an attempt to have influence. This meant that £100s of millions went into Syria and, judging by outcomes, this has not enhanced the argument that the UK should continue to cooperate with the EU. This, of course, also goes for programmes such as MEDA and MEDA II themselves which, as detailed in my evidence to the Balance of Competences Review a few years ago (other source here), has cost the EU taxpayer billions and has given money to organisations, governments and rulers throughout the Middle East that the UK government did not wish to give money directly to.
But on the home front, the EU's paper says it wants 'security of our union', claiming that 'the EU's Global Strategy starts at home' and that '[o]ur Union has enabled citizens to enjoy unprecedented security, democracy and prosperity.' This is a strange claim when over the previous five years we have seen terrorist attacks in Sweden, France, Germany and the UK, the majority of which can be put down to failed EU policies. Its desire to 'enhance our efforts on defence, cyber, counterterrorism, energy and strategic communications' shows a further element of the control these eurocrats so desperately want; control over our lives that the UK public rejected in the 2016 Brexit referendum.
The UK should not share in this. Nor should the UK share in Juncker's desire to build an EU Army or an EU Secret Service. The UK is better off out of these goals, ideals, aspirations and bureaucratic hobby-horses that will cost money but could also cost the UK its credibility on the world stage, as well as the freedom of its own people.
All views expressed in contributions by named authors are their own and may not reflect the views of The Freedom Association.