BRITAIN and France are preparing to reveal unprecedented plans to share the use of their aircraft carriers in a controversial step to maintain military power in an era of cost-cutting.Leaving aside the political implications such a move would have for the coalition, this story (if true) would merely be a continuation of what has been happening for years.
David Cameron and President Sarkozy are expected to outline the proposal in a November summit, which will lead to British and French flagships working together and protecting the interests of both countries.
The EU has long sought a common defence strategy ever since Monnet's proposals in 1950 for the European Defence Community, and this desire for a 'European Army' has continued apace since the Maastricht treaty.
Agreements on Anglo-French naval co-operation were signed in 1996, the army 1997 and the air force in 1998. In 1996 Tory defence minister Michael Protilio agreed with his fellow defence ministers to set up the Western European Armaments Organisation under the Western European Union (a defence agreement now defunct due to Lisbon) to work for closer co-operation on EU defence procurement.
Tony Blair went even further in St Marlo in 1998 when he offered up the British Armed forces on a plate to be a key part of a New European Defence force, which would act outside of NATO:
Saint Malo was the site of an Anglo-French summit which lead to a significant agreement regarding European defence policy. British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac stated that "the [European] Union must have the capacity for autonomous action, backed up by credible military forces, the means to decide to use them, and a readiness to do so, in order to respond to international crises".Geoff Hoon then signed a 'framework agreement' in 2000, which outlined the guidelines on how to harmonise the the military requirements and have a common command structure. All of this was leading to a common European Defence Agency which was established in 2004.
It was precisely because of this integration that the MoD disbanded or merged 19 historic regiments, so that new 8000 man brigades could be set up in order to fit in with ERRF requirements.
Even the two replacement carriers for the Navy already under construction, at a cost of £5.2billion, are being partially built by the French firm; Thales, who are building an identical one for the French navy. Again requirements of the ERRF.
As ever though none of this gets mention, and so cuts becomes a convenient cover for the Europhile