§ Mr. Hunter
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the implications of the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union for the command and deployment of United Kingdom forces.
§ Mr. Hanley
The United Kingdom's membership of the European Union has no direct implications for the command and deployment of United Kingdom forces, as the EU has no current jurisdiction in the defence field. The EU has placed responsibility for developing and implementing its decisions which have defence implications upon the Western European Union. The WEU is an autonomous organisation, and not all members of the EU are full members of the WEU. The WEU is being developed as the defence component of the EU and as a means of strengthening the European pillar of NATO, which remains fundamental to ensuring European security and stability. Development of the WEU is likely to have implications for the command and control of United Kingdom forces involved in operations with other European allies. In future such operations may take place under the control of the WEU, using assets shared with NATO.