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EU membership is compromising UK national security

  • Military integration of EU is undermining interoperability with Nato and the US
  • European nations’ low defence spending and reluctance to deploy bodes ill for Britain
  • UK should seek to obtain a favourable exit deal as part of next EU treaty negotiations

Britain’s security is being imperilled by its membership of the European Union, a new Civitas publication argues. The reluctance of many European states to deploy military force and their low levels of defence spending are compromising the UK’s position, professorial research fellow David Conway says.

While the status quo – allowing Britain to maintain its defence alliance with the US and Nato – suits Britain, that is being undermined by the continued military integration of the EU. UK security would be better served by withdrawing from the EU, Conway writes.

“Should it ever have to choose between America or EU membership, its security would be better served by continuing its alliance with America than by remaining an EU member,” he writes in With Friends Like These… Why Britain should leave the EU – and how.

“In practice, Britain’s security is becoming ever more compromised by its continued membership of an EU that is beginning to become more integrated militarily.”

Conway argues that Britain’s external security would be better served by its withdrawing from the EU and pursuing its defence collaboration with other European states, or through Nato, or bilaterally.

The more integrated EU states’ military capabilities become, the more reliant they are for security on the EU and less able to deploy unilaterally.

“Any greater reliance on the EU could well jeopardise Britain’s security because, apart from France and a couple of other member states, Britain’s EU partners have consistently shown themselves to be less willing to expend public money on defence.

“The reluctance of so many EU member states to deploy military force bodes ill for Britain, especially if EU defence integration means that Britain will increasingly have to look to the EU for security rather than depend on its own capabilities or those of America.”

Conway’s warning of defence is part of a wide-ranging survey of Britain’s relationship with the EU which says the UK has lost out both economically and politically by being a member.

“Britain and its people would be able to enjoy more freedom, justice, democracy, as well as greater prosperity, were it to leave the EU.”

Conway backs a future UK-EU relationship dubbed ‘EEA lite’, which would see Britain leave the EU but remain part of the European Economic Area. Britain would then be able to negotiate free trade deals with other countries, and would not be subject to EU directives and regulations (apart from those pertaining to trade with the EU). Crucially, EU interference in British law and justice would be negated, and Britain would be able to repeal whichever laws it wished.

By way of an exit strategy, he proposes Britain should wait until the negotiations over the next EU treaty and use its veto power to achieve ‘EEA lite’.

“There is an increasingly promising prospect that Britain will be able to secure a better deal with the EU on the back of a new EU Treaty primarily intended to resolve the euro-crisis”, Conway argues. Only then, with this trade framework in place, should Britain formally announce its exit from the EU.

“It is… within the context of EU negotiations for a new Treaty that Britain’s best prospects lie for being able to regain the economic and political freedoms it has lost to Brussels without having to forgo continued full access to the Single Market.”


The text of the book, With Friends Like These… Why Britain should leave the EU – and how, can be downloaded below.

David Conway taught philosophy for over thirty years at Middlesex University where he was head of the School of Philosophy and Religious Studies. He subsequently joined Civitas as a Senior Research Fellow and continues the association as a Visiting Professorial Research Fellow. His publications include A Farewell to Marx, Classical Liberalism, The Rediscovery of Wisdom, In Defence of the Realm, A Nation of Immigrants?, Disunited Kingdom, and Liberal Education and the National Curriculum. He voted against British membership of the EEC in the 1975 Referendum, having been persuaded by the argument that the attendant loss of sovereignty would be too high a price to pay, whatever economic benefits it promised.

For further information contact:

Christopher Hyland
Communications Assistant
T: 0207 799 6677

Civitas: Institute for the Study of Civil Society is an independent, cross-party think tank that facilitates informed public debate on important issues of the day. It is not affiliated to any political party and receives no state funding

With Friends Like These... Why Britain should leave the EU - and how

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