Sant says no to Malta joining a European defence policy

Alfred Sant argues that a Common Security and Defence Policy would reinforce the ‘superior military importance of large member states over the smaller ones’

Labour MEP Alfred Sant
Labour MEP Alfred Sant

Promoting a common security and defence policy for the European Union could be counterproductive, reinforcing the “superior military importance” of the larger member states over the smaller EU countries, Labour MEP Alfred Sant said.

The former prime minister was addressing the European Parliament, ahead of a vote on a resolution which sets the framework for EU political and military structures.

Sant voted against, arguing that Malta was a neutral country. He said, he would in favour of opting out from any comprehensive European security and defence policy.

The Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) sets the framework for EU political and military structures and for military and civilian missions and operations abroad.

Sant argued that it might sound tempting to promote a common security and defence policy for the EU, but the likelihood is that it will be counterproductive. “Such an initiative would not help to relight enthusiasm for a closer union as much as heighten divergences among member states,” he said.

In its white paper on the future of Europe, the European Commission has pushed security and defence as a strong platform that would lead to enhanced cooperation among the member states.

“It would be better for the EU to concentrate on coordinating security measures within EU territory regarding terrorism, immigration and surveillance. Here, the benefits could be reaped in the short to medium term and would be politically popular and easy to communicate,” Sant said.

He said, that pursuit of a European defence policy as of now would inevitably highlight the greater military importance of the larger participating member states.

“This would contribute to sow distrust between partners regarded as ‘dominant’ and others regarded as ‘followers’. Meanwhile, neutral countries might decide to partly participate – or not at all – in the policy.”

Sant argued that having different member states moving at different levels would further contribute to the disjointedness that is currently afflicting the European project.

“Given Malta’s status as a neutral country, I would be in favour of opting out from any comprehensive European defence and security policy. For these reasons, I have voted against the resolution,” he said.

The resolution ‘Constitutional, legal and institutional implications of a Common Security and Defence Policy: possibilities offered by the Lisbon Treaty’ passed with 360 votes in favour, 212 against and 48 abstentions.

On 28 June 2016 the Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy was presented to the European Council by High Representative Federica Mogherini. With its emphasis on security, its ambition for strategic autonomy and its principled yet pragmatic approach to Europe’s environment, the EU Global Strategy signifies an important change of philosophy from the 2003 European Security Strategy.

The EU Global Strategy identifies five priorities for EU foreign policy: the security of the Union; state and societal resilience to the East and South of the EU; the development of an integrated approach to conflicts; cooperative regional orders; and global governance for the 21st century.

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