Exterior view of the new NATO headquarters

From Sir Richard Dearlove, Emeritus Fellow, Pembroke College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

Sophia Besch’s article on European defence in a spirit of optimism (“Europe tests the waters for a stronger defence policy”, Opinion, August 14) suggests that the EU may soon agree “on a direction of travel”. However it also spells out a powerful set of reasons why this initiative maybe destined to fail: the primacy of Nato in defence matters for the majority of member states, the EU’s lack of competence in national security, its focus on internal politics to the exclusion of geopolitical strategy, its lack of a common threat analysis, the disconnect between core EU policies and defence, the prevalence of think-tank activity to the exclusion of any ambition to have boots or tracks on the ground. Furthermore and crucially the UK, Europe’s primary defence provider with more than half of Europe’s capabilities in a number of key areas, is leaving the club. European defence has no direction of travel nor does it have a destination.

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