The Tory politician trashed Jean-Claude Juncker following his fourth and last State of the Union address before he steps down as head of the European Commission in 2019.
Mr Bannerman suggested that the top Eurocrat’s calls for stronger defence ties among member states signalled the European Union is dialling up plans to create an “EU Superstate” with a “fully operational” army at its disposal.
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk in Strasbourg, the Tory MEP said: “He talks about making the army that everyone says doesn’t exist.
“The EU army does exist, as a permanent structured headquarters – PESCO it’s called – that is going to become fully operational. There are some strides as we expect towards the EU superstate which I’m not happy with.”
The Permanent Structured Co-operation (PESCO) – a European army in all but name – received the official blessing of heads of state and government who joined to toast its success in December.
There are also plans for enhanced joint training programmes, a European medical command and projects relating to logistics such as the streamlining of cross-border military transport procedures. Key EU member states including France and Germany have long-campaigned for greater defence and security integration.
Mr Bannerman also expressed scepticism towards Mr Juncker’s plan to deploy an additional 10,000 border patrol officers to regulate and cut the migration flows across European frontiers.
The Brexiteer politician argued that such a move would undermine the role of nation-states within the bloc to provide Brussels more decisional power.
He continued: “I don’t like on the negative side this move into the border agency, 10,000 EU offices, to maintain the borders. I mean where’s instruction going to come from?
“Is it like ‘well, we’ll decide where your border is and how we police it,’ – that will come from Brussels or Strasbourg, and not from the nation-state.”
Mr Bannerman did, however, appear to approve of the Commissioner’s stance on the future relationship the bloc will have with the United Kingdom after Brexit.
He praised the appeal for a “creative solution” to the Northern Irish border issue currently deadlocking the negotiations while proposing to strike a “super Canada-type deal” to maintain post-Brexit frictionless trade.
He added: “There’s certainly a lot of positive aspects as well as negatives ones – the positive ones for me were he wants a free trade area, as he calls it, with the UK.
“That’s what I want, a super Canada type deal, plus plus plus, and he was hinting at that. He attacked the Chequer’s plan, he said you can’t have parts of a single market, I think that’s a real no-no for Chequer’s.”
He concluded: “The other thing that’s very important, he said he’s looking for a creative solution, in his words, on Northern Ireland, and it’s a northern Ireland border issue that’s holding up a free trade agreement like Canada plus.
“We can get a breakthrough and that means a deal, so I think we are moving towards a positive position on that side.”
Speaking about three principles the EU will work towards over the UK’s exit, Mr Juncker said that the “masterful” Michel Barnier was working with “unanimous” support from the 27 member states.
Speaking about Northern Ireland, he went on: “This parliament and all member states we show loyalty with Ireland on the Irish border. We want to find a creative solution to prevent a hard border and we will defend all the elements of the Good Friday Agreement. It’s Brexit making the border more visible, not EU.
“After 29 March 2019, the UK will never be an honorary third country. It will always be a very close partner in political, security terms.
“I welcome PM May’s proposal for ambitious partnership. We agree with Chequers a starting point should be a free trade area between UK and EU.
“We owe it to citizens and businesses to ensure the exit is orderly. It won’t be the Commission that stands in the way of this.”