British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron pose during a G7 coordination meeting at the Hotel du Palais on 24 August 2019 in Biarritz, France. Photo credit: Pool/Getty Images
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron pose during a G7 coordination meeting at the Hotel du Palais on 24 August 2019 in Biarritz, France. Photo credit: Pool/Getty Images

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Summary

  • Since its inception in the 2003 nuclear negotiations with Iran, the E3 has become an established format for diplomatic cooperation between France, Germany and the UK. It now acts as a vehicle for coordination on a broader range of international issues. The E3, frequently working alongside the EU, has been an effective means of efficient consensus-building and European leadership, although its impact outside of the Iran issue has so far been limited.
  • Following the UK’s departure from the EU, E3 cooperation will take place in a different strategic and political context. While France and Germany have indicated ongoing support for the format and cooperation has so far been insulated from the Brexit process, the future foreign and security policy relationship between the UK and the EU will influence the extent and nature of E3 cooperation.
  • Over the longer term, the utility of E3 cooperation will depend on the state of transatlantic relations and the development of the EU’s foreign, security and defence policies.
  • The UK’s ongoing Integrated Security, Defence and Foreign Policy Review offers an opportunity to consider the future of the E3 and prioritize the development of E3 cooperation. The UK government should seek to maintain the E3 as a platform for flexible diplomatic coordination and expand its focus to address a new set of thematic, regional or multilateral challenges.