Royal Fleet Auxiliary Shipbuilding Contracts Opened to Foreign Yards Thanks to EU Rules

Brexit-supporting veterans have criticised EU rules on competition and tendering for the Government’s decision to open naval contracts to foreign shipbuilders.

Contracts to build three 40,000 tonne Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) vessels will be subject to “open competition” because they are non-warships, according to Minister for Defence Procurement Harriet Baldwin.

The announcement has caused dismay among Britain’s shipbuilders, with the GMB trade union complaining that it “undermines the national interest”.

GMB National Secretary Jude Brimble said RFA contracts were “the key to unlocking the country’s massive shipbuilding potential and transforming the fortunes of our shipbuilding communities… [but] instead of a massive programme of shared economic and employment re-distribution, our shipbuilding firms will be competing against each other for slivers of complex warship work.”

Veterans for Britain, which campaigned for Brexit during the referendum and continues to warn against Britain being entangled in EU integration schemes, was quick to highlight the bloc’s role in such decisions.

Major-General Julian Thompson, who led Britain’s land forces during the Falklands War and now chairs Veterans for Britain, has previously told Breitbart London that “EU defence procurement law means member-states are increasingly prevented from allocating defence contracts to their own manufacturers,” and that “the key exemptions that existed in that area are being eliminated under changes to the EU Procurement Directive.”

Maj-Gen Thompson has also highlighted the negative role of the EU’s schemes to integrate European defence, and the danger of Britain remaining entangled in these schemes even after Brexit.

“Recent EU policy changes … also mean that member-states will not even be able to plan defence industrial strategy and procurement independently without major input across the planning process from the EU Commission and the European Defence Agency,” he noted.

EU Freedom of Movement rules mean that British workers often do not see the benefits of shipbuilding contracts even when they are awarded to domestic firms, with bosses bringing in cheap labour from eastern member-states to undercut local workers.

“It is beyond a joke. They have taken on so many foreign workers that there is barely a job left for Scottish workers, who are lining up at the dole,” a tradesman told the Daily Record during work on the HMS Queen Elizabeth II aircraft carrier in Govan and Rosyth.

“They might as well have awarded the contract to yards in Romania or Poland for all the good this contract is doing for the likes of me.”

This situation will remain unchanged as long as the United Kingdom remains party to the Free Movement provisions of the EU Single Market.

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