13:00 GMT +317 November 2019
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    UK War Veterans Slam Plans for EU Army Ahead of Brexit Vote

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    Calls by the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker for the formation of an EU army to counter the threat from Russia have been slammed by UK veterans who say the idea will mean that the UK would "lose control" of its defense capabilities.

    Juncker in 2015 called for the formation of an EU military force – separate to that of NATO – that would show the world that the EU was prepared to put an army behind its foreign and security policies.

    "A joint EU army would show the world that there would never again be a war between EU countries. Such an army would also help us to form common foreign and security policies and allow Europe to take on responsibility in the world," Juncker told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

    "With its own army, Europe could react more credibly to the threat to peace in a member state or in a neighboring state. One wouldn't have a European army to deploy it immediately. But a common European army would convey a clear message to Russia that we are serious about defending our European values," Juncker said.

    'International Standing Diminished'

    However, campaign group Veterans for Britain, which is led by ex-Armed Forces personnel, is calling on UK citizens to vote to get out of the EU in the In-Out referendum of Britain's membership of the union on June 23 over the issue.

    In a statement, Veterans for Britain said:

    "If we stay, the EU is planning the creation of an EU Army. The EU Parliament is in favor of it. This would mean that the UK would lose control of its defense and its international standing would be diminished."

    The group said the UK’s role in NATO for more than 65 years has been the cornerstone of the country’s international defense cooperation and has maintained peace for the UK, Europe and further afield during that time.

    ​Outside of the EU, the UK would continue to work closely with its NATO partners, including those in Europe and the six non-NATO nations in the EU. The UK would also continue to cooperate on joint anti-piracy and counterterrorism activities.

    "The UK and its Armed Forces would be freer, more effective, more democratic and more able to retain their distinctive capabilities and ethos if they were without the impositions being applied by the EU in defense command, defense structures, operations, procurement, intelligence and the development of new technology," the group said.

    "We believe it is essential to maintain and where necessary re-establish the United Kingdom’s autonomy in defense in the context of its pre-existing alliances and to ensure it is directly and solely accountable to the UK Parliament," the group said.


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    military advance, European army, army, military, NATO, European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, Europe, Russia, United Kingdom
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