Richard North, 11/06/2005  

That is the view DefenseNews takes of the French and Dutch "no" votes and their impact on defence integration. Nothing about the rejection of the constitution will undo or likely even slow the EU progress towards a military force compiled from member contributions.

Thus, although the votes will delay wider cross-border defence co-operation by a decade, "voters cannot so easily put the brakes on destiny". This battle for a constitution has failed, but the potential for a more unified Europe remains.

This is echoed by Karl Von Wogau, German MEP and head of the European Parliament’s sub-committee on defence. "I am not discouraged for the European Security and Defence Policy," he says, "because it has its own fixed agenda and that will move ahead even if the constitution is not in place."

He sees "a positive will to move ahead in this area," adding: "Security and defence are the centrepieces of the EU's foreign policy ambitions and they will go forward".

Confirmation of this agenda comes from an anonymous official of the French defence ministry, who says that the European Defence Agency, the EU Gendarme force and the EU military planning office will continue to function as part of European co-operation.

As for a few "no" votes in a couple of referendums – like the man says: a minor setback.

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