Sourced : The Times

By Bruno Waterfield

EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini told ambassadors yesterday she would table the “road map” to take advantage of “political space” opened by the Brexit vote.

Her plans for military structures able “to act autonomously” from NATO have led to fears that the EU is seeking to rival the alliance that has been the primary structure since 1949….

After the Brexit vote, the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy and countries in central eastern Europe see a new chance to press ahead with deeper EU military integration without British opposition.

“We have the political space today to do things that were not really doable in previous years,” Ms Mogherini told the EU ambassadors….

The blueprint envisages countries such as France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Poland creating permanent military structures to act on behalf of the EU under a clause in the Lisbon Treaty that has never been used. The proposals will include “tackling the procedural, financial and political obstacles” to the deployment of the EU’s battle groups, 18 national battalions available but never used for military missions.

She will also propose to “change institutional structures, to be more imaginative” including an EU military planning and ­operations headquarters in Brussels that could be a rival to NATO. “More effective civilian and military planning might need a specific structure and we will look into this kind of institutional innovation as well,” Ms Mogher­ini said yesterday.

A timetable for the plan will be discussed at a meeting of 27 EU leaders — excluding British Prime Minister Theresa May — at a summit in Bratislava next week. Diplomats said Britain had dropped its opposition.

NATO officials have expressed concerns that the proposals will create rivalry and challenge the alliance’s primacy as the main defence structure.

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