I recently read this article with some dismay but not much surprise. I noticed the reasons given by the EU for wanting to create a pan-European Coastguard Service as being the desire to “… effectively combat current or future dangers at sea such as terrorism, piracy and trafficking …”.
Whilst the reasons given, in themselves sound laudable enough, when examined in detail they become spurious, please permit me to explain. Firstly, the question of Terrorism. Is the EU suggesting that a pan European Coastguard should become an armed fourth “Arm of Service” (as in the American model)? And if so, why ?
Britain already has a dedicated, specialist Unit for this important task, in the shape of The Fleet Protection Group, Royal Marines. Therefore, one has to question the sense in and need for un-armed civilians to be trained in this role. Secondly, the matter of piracy and trafficking … we already have an organisation to deal with these matters in the form of UKBA, equipped with the necessary tools to do the job.
Next we come to the Raison d’être for HM Coastguard, that of their rescue co-ordination role. In this they are already ably supported by both RN & RAF SAR (Search & Rescue) air assets, the RNLI, Police Forces and, where required other specialist units of HM Armed Forces (for example, RAF Cliff & Mountain Rescue Teams). All of which may be called upon, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year (legislation exists to ensure that this happens).
Now, unless I’ve missed something vitally obvious, I cannot for the life of me see how creating a pan-European Coastguard will improve matters by one iota.
Our existing Rescue Services already work perfectly well alongside their Irish, Dutch, Belgian, French etc counterparts, when required, aided by the fact that the international language of Maritime & Aviation operations is English. What it will do however, is create the thin end of a very large wedge. It will give the EU Kommisars the opportunity to create an organisation over which they & they alone have total control … I feel this is just one step closer to a pan-European Defence Force.
The future of HM Coastguard is already under review, and, as is sensible, all organisations need to evolve in order to meet the ever-changing needs of those whom it serves. If this notion is permitted to survive, it will result in several expert organisations, effectively doing the same thing, at the same time … which makes neither operational nor financial sense. Therefore, this latest piece of EU lunacy must be vigorously resisted at all costs by the UK Government.