Gerry Northwood, COO of maritime security company MAST, has commented on the EU Referendum from a security perspective, saying that the EU plays a ‘significant role’ in underpinning the security of its member states.
“The EU Referendum debate has brought many different arguments to the fore about the effect a British exit could potentially have on the economy, trade and security, amongst other important topics. At MAST we certainly benefit from being part of the Single Market as certain areas of our business, such as the work we do with superyachts and shipyards, require the movement of people and goods around Europe.
“However it is the impact on security which, as a security company, we are naturally most interested in, and the EU continues to have an important role to play in countering the various threats that Europe faces. Examples of successful operations include those in the Balkans, Chad and the Indian Ocean, and most recently in the Mediterranean. Successfully generating the collaborative structures to counteract piracy in the Indian Ocean made this the most successful mission for the EU to date, and one from which many good lessons can be drawn. It also exposed the level to which the EU needed to leverage individual member state expertise. In this case it was mainly UK expertise and influence which made the operational and legal framework possible.
“The same applies to the Mediterranean and the operations currently being conducted to try and control the flow of migrants. Unless individual member states, including the UK, step up to the plate and leverage on their historical relationships to bring the full weight of their diplomatic, military and legal expertise to the fore, the mission will fail. This is a problem Brussels is not well-placed to resolve without meaningful support and cooperation from member states.
“Britain’s security is inextricably bound with Europe and where national security is concerned has never acted alone. It is, therefore, important to recognise that the EU, despite its obvious weaknesses, plays a significant role in underpinning the security of its member states. To protect Britain’s interests we must be in the EU and a committed member. The UK must lead, shape and, where necessary, stiffen the EU, so that the security and general standing of Europe is enhanced. To leave would be to abandon a long-standing national strategy and the UK and Europe will consequently be more vulnerable to terrorist and criminal activity. The EU needs us as much as we need them, and remaining in the Union would be beneficial for business reasons as well as a broad range of security issues which impact on national security.”