'I am Nils Olav, commander of armies.' Picture by Lee Carson.
It's an observation that the more astute, and perhaps less ideological, critics of the EU often make: almost nothing the EU does couldn't be done without it. The most oft-stated 'benefits' of its existence - and our membership - do not actually require it at all. Greater co-operation between nations, enhanced trade links, and closer defence ties are all things that could be, should be, and, the world over, already are, being taken care of by democratically-elected national governments, under the auspices of no-one but their own electorates.
What proponents of the EU often forget is that nations are capable of unity and agreement with unaccountable supranational government. In fact, there is not a region on earth which does not have some kind of assembly where diplomats from all nations in that region come together and negotiate for their mutual benefit. They sign trade agreements, co-ordinate efforts, synchronise laws, etc. all without surrendering an inch of national, economic, or democratic sovereignty.
The UK and Europe is just as capable of it as any other state or region. Only today, we signed a Memoranda of Understanding with one of our oldest allies, Norway, allowing for greater co-operation in the field of military defence. Similar agreements have also been signed with Germany, the Netherlands, and Poland. It comes after comments, made by David Cameron in January, that there was an 'alliance of common interests,' ranging from economic to environmental issues. All the while the EU is nowhere in sight. So much for it being 'vital' to peace, co-operation, and prosperity in Europe.