It is impossible to make any coherent case for the future of British armed forces without understanding the political context in which they exist.
This political context has been clearly set out in many documents,treaties and laws.
Unfortunately,few in the United Kingdom ever bother to read such things.
The primacy of European Law over laws passed by the British Parliament has been established.
The following is an extract from the Final Act of the Treaty of Lisbon:
"The Conference recalls that, in accordance with well settled case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union,the Treaties and the law adopted by the Union on the basis of the Treaties have primacy over the law of Member States,under the conditions laid down by the said case law.
The Conference has also decided to attach as an Annex to this Final Act the Opinion of the Council Legal Service on the primacy of EC law as set out in 11197/07 (JUR 260):
"Opinion of the Council Legal Service
of 22 June 2007
It results from the case-law of the Court of Justice that primacy of EC law is a cornerstone principle of Community law.
According to the Court, this principle is inherent to the specific nature of the European Community.
At the time of the first judgment of this established case law (Costa/ENEL,15 July 1964, Case 6/641(See Note 1) there was no mention of primacy in the treaty.
It is still the case today.
The fact that the principle of primacy will not be included in the future treaty shall not in any way change the existence of the principle and the existing case-law of the Court of Justice."
"It follows (…) that the law stemming from the treaty,an independent source of law,could not,because of its special and original nature,be overridden by domestic legal provisions, however framed,without being deprived of its character as Community law and without the legal basis of the Community itself being called into question.""
It is clear from the above that the United Kingdom is no longer a sovereign nation ruled by laws passed in the House of Commons.
British politicians have political reasons for not drawing public attention to such matters.
As a result we have people who consider the creation of European armed forces to be a paranoid myth.
Even though those European armed forces have been conducting operations for years now.
There is a clear disconnect between the reality of European defence and the perception of many people in the United Kingdom.
Discussion of British defence matters is often couched in the terms of an independent British foreign and defence policy:
Why does Britain need power projection forces?;
Why does Britain need to control the sea lanes?;
Why should Britain try to be a World power?.
However,since the Lisbon Treaty was ratified,such questions are irrelevant.
The United Kingdom no longer has a foreign policy or a defence policy.
These things are now decided at the European level: Common Foreign and Security Policy.
This does not seem to have been understood even by many in the British armed forces who are the means of enforcing that common European policy.
Today we should be asking the following questions:
Why does Europe need power projection forces?;
Why does Europe need to control the sea lanes?;
Why should Europe try to be a World power?.
The answer to each of these questions is because European politicians have decided that they wish to be a major players on the World stage.
British defence forces,like those of the rest of Europe,are simply the British contribution to the European armed forces which enforce the European Common Foreign and Security Policy.
The size,structure and equipment of the British armed forces is determined by the requirements set out by the European Union.
Any consideration of the unique defence interests of the United Kingdom is now irrelevant.