Brexit: what about security and defence?

The EU27 adopted the guidelines for the Brexit negotiations… What about security and defence?

Following the UK notification of its intention to leave the European Union, the 27 remaining Member states held a special summit on 29 April to adopt the guidelines for the Brexit negotiations. The guidelines define the framework for negotiations with the UK and set out the overall positions and principles that the EU will pursue during the talks.

The EU27 agreed that the first phase of negotiations should aim to provide as much clarity and legal certainty as possible and settle the disentanglement of the UK from the EU. The EU27 want “an orderly withdrawal”. In terms of security and defence, it means that “the withdrawal agreement will need to address potential issues arising from the withdrawal in other areas of cooperation, including […] security” (§14).

Once the UK has become a third country, the second phase of negotiations will start in order to conclude an agreement on a future relationship between the EU and the UK. It is important to note that a whole paragraph is dedicated to the future cooperation in security and defence: “The EU stands ready to establish partnerships in areas unrelated to trade, in particular the fight against terrorism and international crime, as well as security, defence and foreign policy” (§22).

Claudia Major and Alicia von Voss, from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP Berlin), tried to outline a path towards future cooperation in security and defence[1]: a starting point for future UK contributions could be the existing third-party agreement – the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) – which has more than 40 non-EU beneficiaries. Although it allows non-members to join EU operations, it does not give them much space for their own vision, strategy and design. The EU27 could decide to grant the UK a special position as an incentive for UK-EU cooperation in defence. Non-EU countries also have the option to participate in the European Defense Agency (EDA) and a regular EU-UK dialogue could produce common ground on operations, capability cooperation, and industrial collaboration of their mutual interest. NATO would welcome a healthy and well-functioning EU-UK relationship since it would facilitate and simplify the implementation of the 2016 EU-NATO Joint Declaration.

[1]In their SWP comment entitled ”European Defence in View of Brexit

Photo Credit : @eucopresident – Compte twitter de Donald Tusk

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