David Cameron to oppose EU 'drones club' on visit to Brussels

 

A plan for the European Union to develop its own drone programme will be strongly opposed by David Cameron at a summit of EU leaders in Brussels today.

Seven EU nations have formed a “drones club” to produce the unmanned aircraft for civilian and military use by 2020. Their use by the United States against militants in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia has proved controversial because of civilian deaths.

EU leaders will discuss closer co-operation on defence but Mr Cameron will argue that national governments should remain in the driving seat and that any European integration should not undermine Nato. Pressure from Britain has already ensured that a proposal for “European armed forces” has been dropped from the draft conclusions.

France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Greece and Poland are backing a plan for joint production of drones, which could be used to strike military targets or for surveillance of boats carrying migrants towards Europe.

But a Downing Street source said: “There can be no question of the [European] Commission owning dual use military capabilities such as drones. Defence kit must be nationally owned and controlled and that should be clear to everyone.”

Brussels accused the UK of misrepresenting the plans. A spokesman said: “The European Commission has no intention to own or procure its own drones.”

* On a visit to Flanders, Belgium, today, Mr Cameron will announce £5m of new funding to conserve, repair and protect First World War memorials and graves across the UK and overseas where British and Commonwealth servicemen and women are buried. 

PROMOTED VIDEO
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz