Lost in the election noise last week was the EU defence 'Reflection Paper'. I'd like to say it's worth reading but in fact only the assumptions and ambitions are noteworthy amongst the Federast waffle. The EU's ambitions are clear; three options are presented from 'Co-operation' to 'Shared' to 'Common'. Co-operation is the do-nothing option and is dismissed. 'Shared' means armed forces that remain under national control but integrate - a sort of EU NATO - and the Commission's favourite, 'Common', which means a single Euro defence force controlled by Brussels and merely funded by member states. Believe me, the EU really does want its own army, navy and air force all badged with that vile twinkly yellow noose.
The assumption made is that the EU's multiplicity of kit - many types of main battle tank and so on - is uneconomic and rationalising ('consolidated procurement') could save €25bn to €100bn annually. It's bollocks of course. 'We have 17 types of combat tanks; the Americans have one' says Juncker in an interview with Der Spiegel and the paper expands on this. The truth, though, is that this is driven by Euro defence firms greedy with hunger for taxes; US procurement and R&D is €108k per soldier compared to the EU's €28k, we're told. The bloody Germans want some of that, as do the French. And they'll have to give the Italians room at the trough, too. If you thought US defence cost overruns and defence corruption, fraud and mis-accounting were bad you've seen nothing - just wait until those Euro firms start in earnest.
As I've posted below, I think the timing is important. EU free-riders will not now increase their NATO spending by a cent. The EU is calculating what's needed to make a Common EU army and national expenditure will be so directed; the spending may be badged as 'NATO' in the short term, but this will be mendacious. They've almost certainly also got an outline idea of how to fudge the divorce.
Which brings me to an interesting footnote - shared Nukes. The US, to help little countries without the bomb to feel included, has distributed 180 B61 air-launched nukes to Turkey, Germany (?), Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands. These 'dial-a-yield' devices can be set on loading to yield from 0.3 to 170 kilotons (Hiroshima was 15) and they can be launched from a variety of national NATO aircraft - but need US consent to 'unlock' them. Will Mr Trump now ask for them back?