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Britain Still a Thorn in the Side of EU Military Cooperation

  • VOA News

FILE - A warplane comes in to land after completing a mission at Britain's Royal Air Force Base in Akrotiri near the southern city of Limassol, Cyprus, Sept. 27, 2014.

FILE - A warplane comes in to land after completing a mission at Britain's Royal Air Force Base in Akrotiri near the southern city of Limassol, Cyprus, Sept. 27, 2014.

Despite its recent decision to part ways with the European Union, Britain will still oppose any attempts the alliance makes to form its own military force, British Defense Minister Michael Fallon said Tuesday.

“We are going to continue to oppose any idea of an EU army or an EU army headquarters which would simply undermine NATO,” Fallon said during an EU meeting in Bratislava.

Fallon’s comments came as EU members attempted to hammer out a major new roadmap for military cooperation between the 28 member states.

France and Germany pushed the proposals, which would include increased spending on military missions, increasing the EU peacekeeping footprint across the globe and cooperating to combat cyber-attacks.

Fallon said he opposed the idea of an EU army, but wouldn’t veto military cooperation plans because “there is no majority” to support it.

“There are a number of other countries who believe with us that cuts across the sovereignty of individual nation states,” he said.

Britain has long pushed against such plans out of fears of a powerful, central European army controlled from Brussels. Germany's Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen and her French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian dismissed Fallon’s fears and said there were no plans for a European army.

"On the contrary, it is about bundling the various strengths of European countries to be ready to act together quickly,” von der Leyen said.

Fallon said Britain would continue to support European defense through NATO, despite plans to exit the EU, and said more British troops would be stationed in Estonia and Poland next year.

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