Security: UK 'must plan for euro collapse'

EU flag The committee said eurozone instability could force several EU countries to cut defence spending

Ministers should draw up plans to deal with a break-up of the eurozone "as a matter of urgency", a committee of MPs and peers has warned.

The joint committee on the government's National Security Strategy (NSS) said the full or partial collapse of the single currency was "plausible".

It said political unrest and a rise in economic migrant numbers could result.

"Long-term security" is at the heart of foreign policy thinking, the government said in response.

The committee, whose members include ex-MI5 director general Baroness Manningham-Buller, said economic instability could leave the UK "unable to defend itself".

It added that governments across the EU could be forced to cut defence spending if the instability were to continue.

"International economic problems could lead to our allies having to make considerable cuts to their defence spending, and to an increase in economic migrants between EU member states, and to domestic social or political unrest," it said.

And, while the committee welcomed the government's decision to publish the NSS alongside the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, it said that "a clear over-arching strategy" had not yet emerged.

Committee chairman and former Labour foreign secretary Margaret Beckett said: "A good strategy is realistic, is clear on the big questions, and guides choices. This one does not.

"We need a public debate on the sort of country we want the UK to be in future and whether our ambitions are realistic, given how much we are prepared to spend."

Margaret Beckett Margaret Beckett, who chairs the committee, called for a public debate on UK ambitions

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that while the National Security Strategy was welcomed, the committee could find "no evidence" it had helped shape government decisions in cases such as Libya and Syria.

Mrs Beckett said the strategy had been drawn up "in some haste" after the 2010 general election and the review of due by 2015 needed to be a "much more thoughtful process".

In their wide-ranging report, the committee established to oversee the NSS and the National Security Council chaired by the prime minister, said Britain might also have to re-think its relationship with the US, as Washington realigned its strategic priorities and turned its focus away from Europe.

It said changing US priorities raised "fundamental questions if our pre-eminent defence and security relationship is with an ally who has interests which are increasingly divergent from our own".

The committee said that in an era of "diminished resources", the UK would have to take on a more "partnership-dependent" role in world affairs.

It stated: "We believe it is totally unrealistic not to expect any diminution in the UK's power and influence in the medium and long term."

In response, a government spokesman said ministers remained vigilant and regularly took stock of "the changing global environment" and threats to the UK's security.

"A strategy for Britain's long term security and prosperity is at the heart of the government's approach to foreign policy," he said.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 191.

    Good idea, to deal with a bad idea!

  • rate this

    Comment number 190.

    This should have been done on day 1 of the European debt crisis. Any decent risk assessment would have looked at the likelihood and impact of a collapse of the Eurozone ....
    Dream on.
    The Euro is here to stay - get used to it and make the most of it.
    How come, a currency that's "collapsing" is now worth more than when launched!

  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    The irony is that the EEC (Eurozone) was created after WW2 to avoid social unrest ever happening again! Human nature tends to go off the beaten path in time due to ambitions, selfishness, egos etc - going back to square one! Schrumpeter's creative destruction at play!

  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    I am fully in favour of us being close friends and allies with our European neighbours. But the EU as currently constituted is wrong, as is the direction of travel. The Euro was always a mistake, and its current difficulties should tell anyone with any sense that it's time to back-peddle. But many EU politicians want yet more integration.

    Let's be glad so few people here believe in the EU.

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.


    "...It should be dismantled in an orderly fashion..."


    Fine. How are you and the like-minded going to achieve that, against the wishes of most people using the Euro, then?

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    Adding to 172. It clearly doesn't worry you at all that in the last few year's two former third world countries, China and Brazil overtook the UK's economy with Russia, India, Turkey and even Mexico following close behind. The EU on the other hand is the largest economic block in the world. We should bank on that. Make it work instead of succumbing to defeatism.

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    151. wyleu

    when it was launched? a euro was worth 60p or thereabouts. it's 83.52p now, so which is the currency that really has lost it's value?

    You obviously dont understand the importance of keeping a currency weak during a recession then.
    'A corrupt pound', what are you on.
    How can the uk join a currency that will not exist in 3 years time. Your comments confound me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    The euros are political not practical hence its problems.

    To manage the fall out the first thing we all need to do is close all borders. Greeks are already running away to take a living out of other people's lands. End immediately the right to free movement in the EU. Controlled work permit only access, with never any right to remain ever. EU people here now need to apply for them or leave.

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.

    It wont collapse, Greece might be kicked out of the Eurozone, but I doubt that too. Germany and France will not allow it to happen and there are enough tame sheep in Europe to ensure they get their way. Money for Greece will miraculously appear at the 11th hour and Merkozy will again claim to have saved the day. Meanwhile the people of the Eurozone will find they are suddenly worse off .

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.

    @Luddite... well, nothing wrong with believing in yourself, but keeping your eyes shut to the new economic reality is just foolhardiness'

    Then make a new 'econimic reality' (economics are inherently unreal of course, unlike productivity and industry). True leaders will do that.

    The UK has massive potential if only it was harnessed properly...

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    The house next door is on fire. Should I be thinking of protecting my own property? Should I be rushing out to help douse the flames? Yes and yes.
    Should I sit back and do nothing? Should I have little malicious gloat at my neighbours' misfortune? No and no.

  • rate this

    Comment number 180.

    We don't need anyone else do we? Just all pull in the same direction under a strong leader and ignore the outside world. It's worked well for S Korea.
    Maybe do it the old way. Build an army more advanced and better organised than anyone else and take what we want.
    Or maybe the world has changed since the empire.

    We need strong trade partners we can depend on. Help them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    Greece will end up defaulting later this year, which will be the start of the break up of the Eurozone. The risk is that Italy and Spain follow, at which point the Euro will go into freefall and the Eurozone project will need a radical re-think.

    Politicians have diverted attention to bankers and away from the ineptitude of the political leaders in the EU responsible for this mess.

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    Making plans is much of the raison d'etre of the government and civil service. I'd bet there are plans available for anything from a Tsunami in the Solent to martians landing in Milton Keynes. The day the first countries ditched their own currencies in favour of the Euro was the day the plans should have been prepared.

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    On the basis that there will never be total cohesion between differing economies and cultures, the Eurozone is doomed. I cannot understand how anybody, least of all our so-called leaders, could ever have thought otherwise.

    It should be dismantled in an orderly fashion, to limit the inevitable damage to the member states. Trade between them will not suffer in the slightest.

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    #155. TheSkyisBlue. Re #145.
    It would be a good start anyway, old boy, what?

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    When the Euro collapses (and it almost certainly will) can we then have the referendum to decide if we should belong to this rag-tag bunch of self-serving politicians and bureaucrats or just deal with the ordinary people in our neighboring countries like grown ups?

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    146.Andy The Thinker

    I was born in Germany was my father serving with the British Army, my mother is an Irish National but served with the British Army as did her sons. I guess in your perfect country we would not be allowed the use of NHS either.

    Guess this is the problem with blanket statements/labels, you forget the figures actuall refer to people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    161.Clear Incite
    No, we allow the idiots to keep power. Its OUR government, not theirs; OUR country, not theirs. The financial meltdown is THEIR problem, not ours, but we've allowed them to make profit private and debt public. As long as we continue to elect these 'weathercock' idiots rather than visionary 'signposts', we'll never take the UK forwards. We need strategic national leadership.

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    @Luddite... well, nothing wrong with believing in yourself, but keeping your eyes shut to the new economic reality is just foolhardiness, or maybe insularity. Economy and coinciding powers are shifting towards other regions. Who's gonna give a permanent UN seat to the UK when they will be ranked economy number 22 worldwide? Listen to top investors and they will tell you: go BRICS. Where's the U?


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