We are sleepwalking into a European army

by David Card

The Brexit trade deal accepts EU control and audit supremacy over Horizon Europe’s research & development programmes. This link to the EU defence architecture which is facilitated by EU rules will “net” UK compliance with EU defence and foreign policy. The UK has confirmed participation in Horizon Europe (HE), European Defence Fund (EDF) and Pesco. We must avoid being “hooked”, “reeled” and “netted”! Once netted escape is impossible.

On New Year’s Day 2021 the UK and EU signed up to the “Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, of the one part, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, of the other part”. The Brexit trade deal for short.

The negotiations were conducted and concluded behind closed doors producing 1,246 pages containing extensive cross referencing to other EU protocols and rules. Our UK parliament, in very short time, rubber stamped this deal. It is now a “fait accompli”. Our UK government signed up to this deal without proper scrutiny, reservations or hesitation over the intended and unintended consequences. This means there is even more reason to now take stock and understand the threats and opportunities and review just how the trade deal, HE and the EDF relate to each other and the EU’s defence architecture.

The Brexit trade deal refers in general terms to Union programmes and confirms that those we are in as at 1st January 2021 are subject to the rules of this deal (ref: Pg 378 para 5….This Agreement shall continue to apply to such legal commitments.)

The EU are granted audit and access rights, but the UK does not have reciprocal rights! It is an R&D controlling charter allowing them access to the very heart of the participating UK research institutions, our experts and our “know how”.

These self-explanatory extracts from the trade deal should set alarm bells ringing. pg. 379 Article UNPRO.4.1: Reviews and Audits.

1. The Union shall have the right to conduct…. technical, scientific, financial, or other types of reviews and audits on the premises of any natural person residing in or legal entity established in the United Kingdom and receiving Union funding, … Such reviews and audits may be carried out by …the European Commission and the European Court of Auditors, …in accordance with Union law.

2. The agents …of the European Commission and the European Court of Auditors….shall have access to sites, works and documents (in electronic or paper versions….) and to all the information required….

3. The United Kingdom shall not prevent or raise any obstacle to the right of the agents…..to enter the United Kingdom and to access the premises ….

The UK has agreed to EU powers of sanction under EU law over UK companies and UK citizens. Pg. 380 para 8. …the European Commission may impose administrative measures and penalties ….in accordance with Union legislation.

The UK may terminate our participation but as we face exit payments the EU calculate and the loss of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) produced from the programme; would we? Pg. 1951 para 6b “….the Union shall recalculate the operational contribution. The Commission shall issue a call for funds in relation to the amount due at the latest one month after the termination takes effect. The United Kingdom shall pay this due amount within 60 days of the issue of the call for funds”.

On 11th December 2020 the EU issued a statement with an accompanying diagram showing the preliminary structure. The UK has confirmed and agreed terms of participation.

“Developing Horizon Europe: The EU institutions reached a political agreement on Horizon Europe on 11 December 2020. The agreement is subject to formal approval by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU”. “The strategic planning process will focus in particular on the Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness pillar of Horizon Europe. It will also cover the Widening Participation and Strengthening the European Research Area part of the programme as well as relevant activities in other pillars”.  (ec.europa.eu/info/horizon-europe)

Once entangled in any EU programme the UK’s level of commitment, funding and participation will rack up and be under constant EU review. The more we put in the more we stand to lose by voluntary exit or expulsion. UK defence firms will be corralled by their EU paymaster using UK money to lobby for UK’s adherence to EU policy even if that weakened our UK defence autonomy.

The EU have shown their true colours over the debacle with vaccines and the Irish border. That ought to make us rethink if they are worthy partners with whom to build a defence relationship and share our most vital precious secrets, talents, and capabilities.

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