Select Committee on European Union Twenty-Third Report

Defence Co-Operation

Box 5

Article 30(2)

The common security and defence policy shall include the progressive framing of a common defence policy for the Union. This will lead to a common defence, when the European Council, acting unanimously, so decides. It shall in that case recommend to the Member States the adoption of such a decision in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.

The policy of the Union in accordance with this Article shall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain Member States and shall respect the obligations of certain Member States, which see their common defence realised in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), under the North Atlantic Treaty and be compatible with the common security and defence policy established within that framework.

24.  The Committee draws attention to the development in proposed Article 30(2)[23] which strengthens the existing provisions of Article 17 (1) TEU. Such a proposal would not only have profound implications for the role of NATO, but also appears to be wholly unrealistic in the foreseeable future. The Committee can see a case for such an aspirational provision against the possibility that NATO might become ineffective and that the Member States might accordingly need an alternative mechanism. We assert our view that we would not wish any developments in European Union defence to weaken the role of NATO. We also believe that it is wholly unlikely that "the progressive framing of a common defence policy….will lead to a common defence".

25.  Article 30 (7) establishes closer co-operation enabling those Member States who wish to do so to take up in the European Union framework the mutual assistance commitment made in Article 5 of the Brussels Treaty. We draw the attention of the House to this new development.

Agency for Armaments and Strategic Research

Box 6

Article 19

1.  The European Armaments and Strategic Research Agency shall have as its task to:

-  contribute to identifying the Member States' military capability objectives and evaluating observance of the capability commitments given by the Member States;

-  promote harmonisation of operational needs and adoption of effective, compatible procurement methods;

-  propose multilateral projects to fulfil the objectives in terms of military capabilities, ensure co-ordination of the programmes implemented by the Member States and management of specific co-operation programmes;

-  support defence technology research, and co-ordinate and plan joint research activities and the study of technical solutions meeting future operational needs;

-  contribute to identifying and, if necessary, implementing any useful measure for strengthening the industrial and technological base of the defence sector and for improving the effectiveness of military expenditure;

2.  The Agency shall be open to all Member States wishing to be part of it. The Council, acting by qualified majority, shall adopt a decision defining the Agency's statute, seat and operational rules. Such rules should take account of the level of effective participation in the Agency's activities. Specific groups shall be set up within the Agency bringing together Member States engaged in joint projects.

26.  Article 19[24] makes provision for a European Armaments and Strategic Research Agency. This too is a new proposal to which we draw the attention of the House. Such an Agency might well help to improve the capabilities of the armed forces of Member States, but care needs to be taken to ensure that it does not become a tool for protectionism or constrain the ability of Member States to order armaments independently.


Box 7

Article X

Solidarity Clause

In application of the principle of solidarity, the Union shall mobilise all the instruments at its disposal, including military resources, to:

-  prevent the terrorist threat;

-  protect democratic institutions and the civilian population from any terrorist attack;

-  assist a Member State in its territory at the request of its political authorities in the event of a terrorist attack .

The detailed rules for implementing this provision appear in Article X of Part Two, Title B, of the Constitution.

27.  Article X provides a Solidarity Clause.[25]

28.  The Committee draws the attention of the House to this horizontal clause[26] which is a fundamental and constitutional provision giving the Union a capability in the case of a terrorist threat is indeed an extension of existing provisions. While the aspirations of this Clause may be valuable for political reasons, the defence implications must not be overlooked.


  1. The Committee makes this short report to the House for information. We will revisit these issues later in the year in preparation for the IGC, at which point we will analyse in detail how the final proposals from the Convention represent developments or extensions from the existing Treaties of the European Union in so far as they affect matters of foreign policy, security and defence.

23   See Box 5 above. Document CONV 685/03, 23 April 2003, available on the Convention's website at Back

24   See Box 6 above. Document CONV 685/03, 23 April 2003, available on the Convention's website at Back

25   See Box 7 above. Document CONV 685/03, 23 April 2003, available on the Convention's website at Back

26   A 'horizontal clause' is a clause which has implications running laterally through all relevant institutions. Back

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