EU referendum: Plans that could pave way for 'EU army' are 'being held back'

The plans, which have only been shown to EU diplomats, are understood to include proposals or new European military structures, including a headquarters

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Plans to enhance the military role of the European Union, potentially paving the way for a future EU army, are being held back until after the UK referendum, according to reports. 

The plans, which have only been shown to EU diplomats, are understood to include proposals or new European military structures, including a headquarters. 

According to The Times, which has seen extracts of the plans from diplomatic notes, the proposals will not be sent to national governments until after Britain’s EU referendum on 23 June to avoid giving succour to the Leave campaign.

Similar plans were vetoed by the UK in 2011, and the Government has repeatedly insisted that Britain will never be part of any EU army. 

However, it is understood the plans, drawn over 18 months by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, are supported by other leading EU countries, and refer to powers set out in the 2009 Lisbon Treaty, which could allow nine or more member states to embark on their own plans for an EU military headquarters. 

The draft paper states that “in turbulent times, we need a compass to navigate the waters of a faster-changing world” adding that the EU can “step up its contribution to Europe’s security and defence", according to a diplomatic note seen by The Times. 

However, Ms Mogherini’s spokesman told the newspaper the defence plan “would in no way aim to set up the EU army”.

 A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "We will never be part of an EU army. We retain a veto on all defence matters in the EU and we will oppose any measures which would undermine member states' military forces." 

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