The organisation called the EUROGENDFOR, EGF, or more properly the European Gendarmerie Force, should be better known in Britain than it is, for its function is worrying and could affect this country in the future.
The Eurogendfor is a combined police and militia force currently formed from six EU member States — France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and Spain — designed along the lines of the French Gendarmerie and was established a few years ago both to deal rapidly with any perceived threat of increasing civil unrest and also to strengthen the EU Common Security and Defence Policy. It was originally set up by the European Union in September 2004 at the suggestion of the then French defence minister, has headquarters in Vicenza north eastern Italy with a core of 800-900 members ready to deploy within 30 days, and an additional 2,300 reinforcements available on standby.
At present, membership of this Gendarmerie Force is only open to EU countries which have a police force with military status and therefore does not include the United Kingdom. It should be stressed here that the idea of a gendarmerie is as a military force designed for a state to use against its own people, not against foreign aggressors which is a totally alien concept to the British.
However, there has been a suggestion made by the Netherlands Institute of International Relations (Clingendael) that the rules for inclusion might be relaxed, in which case all EU member states, including the UK, might join and, in theory, operate throughout the European Union. Already, the EGF has gone so far as to create for itself a motto, Lex paciferat, which means “law will bring peace”, and also a flag, consisting of a blue shield with central grenade on a vertical sword .
The EGF was officially declared operational in 2006 but its status was not finally enshrined in law until 18th October 2007 in the Treaty of Velsen.. According to Article 5 of this Treaty, the force may also be placed “at the disposal of…the UN, the Organisation for Security and Co-operationin Europe (OSCE), NATO and other international organisations or ad hoc coalitions” for various missions. Article 4 of the Treaty states that the EGF forces could be placed under either civilian authority or military command to perform security and public order missions, by supervising local police and including criminal investigation work. They could also conduct public surveillance, border policing and general intelligence work and, according to a ‘Solidarity Clause’ in the Lisbon Treaty of 2007, the EGF could now even ‘assist a Member State in its territory, at the request of its political authorities’.
Does that mean we could see the Eurogendarmerie Force on the streets of Britain helping, let’s say, to put down so-called political unrest?
Since no assurance to the contrary has been given by the British government that the EGF will never be allowed to operate on British soil, and indeed, it has even gone so far as to agree that the force could do so with the Government’s mere ‘consent’, this could indeed happen.
And once the Eurogendfor are inside the country, no British government could ever order them to leave.
A worrying sign, pointed out by journalist Jason Groves writing in the Sunday Express a month before the signing of the Treaty of Velsen, was that with no publicity, a similar gendarmerie-type force had been in operation in Bosnia even before the Treaty had been signed. This could indicate that those organising the EGF are happy to operate outside of parliamentary control and this can be expected to determine the nature of future European interventions.
Writing in the Clingendael Report of March 2009 under “Potential of the EUROGENDFOR”, Michiel de Weger suggests that it would be beneficial for the EGF to relax the rules and include more non-gendarmerie forces. Since the EGF already sets the common training standards of the national gendarmerie forces these additions could be made more professional and so contribute to closer EU cooperation in cross-border law enforcement.
And the Clingendael Report gives another option for the EGF which has frightening potential: the training of gendarmerie or gendarmerie-type forces across the globe.
And as Michiel de Weger also says, while there is an enormous pool of over 430,000 similar paramilitary troops which currently operate in EU countries alone, there are almost 2.5 million such personnel worldwide which could be trained by the EGF to undertake global actions. These could serve a dual purpose – for example, either to support a state riven by popular protest and civil unrest or to ensure the interests of the participating countries.
So the European Gendarmerie Force should be seen as a small step towards greater European military integration, probably including the United Kingdom.
There are now three EU controls over UK justice and home affairs –
- The European Arrest Warrant which allows UK citizens to be arrested in this country on the request of an EU member state, and sent to foreign jails without bail while awaiting trial.
- Europol, the European Intelligence Agency whose officers have diplomatic immunity for whatever they do.
- And now the European Gendarmerie Force, a multinational police force with military status, which is able to enter any EU member state, including the UK, at the request of the government and could also operate globally as a paramilitary force.
Is this what the UK public expected when it voted in 1975 to join the Common Market?
A longer version of this artile was originally published in 2013 by the on-line Quarterly Review.