Peace in Europe: Assessment of EU’s Contribution

Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th May 2016.

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Photo of Julian Lewis Julian Lewis Chair, Defence Committee, Chair, Defence Committee 12:00 am, 4th May 2016

What recent assessment he has made of the extent of the contribution of the EU to the maintenance of peace in Europe.

Photo of David Cameron David Cameron The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

NATO is the cornerstone of Britain’s defence, but our place in the EU is, in my view, a vital part of protecting our national security. I would argue that it helps in two ways: first, by ensuring that issues are settled by dialogue; and secondly, by helping to provide assistance in particular circumstances—for example, the Balkans.

Photo of Julian Lewis Julian Lewis Chair, Defence Committee, Chair, Defence Committee

I entirely agree with the Prime Minister’s remarks about NATO, but does he accept that although dictatorships often attack democracies or other dictatorships, democracies seldom, if ever, go to war with each other? If an aim of the EU is, as we are constantly told, to prevent conflict between its own members, as in world war one and world war two, is it not heading in precisely the wrong direction by trying to create an unelected, supranational Government of Europe that is accountable to nobody?

Photo of David Cameron David Cameron The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

My right hon. Friend has long-standing and passionate views on this issue. Let me make a couple of points in response. First, we should not forget that, until very recently, some countries now in the European Union were not democracies, but forms of dictatorship. Secondly, those countries that have worked towards membership of the EU have had to put in place all sorts of democratic and other norms to help them on their way. Finally, we have had an unparalleled period of peace and prosperity in Europe. My argument is that whether we attribute all of that to NATO or some of that to the EU, why would we want to put it at risk?