Keeping Britain close

Britain’s defence ties with the EU should be kept separate from Brexit politics, writes Michelle Shevin-Coetzee.

The World Today Updated 28 September 2020 Published 2 March 2020 4 minute READ

Michelle Shevin-Coetzee

Fulbright Schuman Fellow and Visiting Research Associate, Chatham House

With withdrawal now complete, the United Kingdom and the European Union move on to negotiating a broader range of issues in their future relationship. This will include difficult negotiations on defence, foreign policy and security. Defence, in particular, emerged as a point of contention during the withdrawal as both sides had to manage the political fallout from a row over the EU satellite program Galileo.

Although differences on defence and security issues in the withdrawal phase demonstrate some of the challenges ahead, both sides can draw lessons for the coming negotiations. In this next phase, the UK and the EU should consider the long-term repercussions of decisions on defence and lessen the inflexibility that soured the political atmosphere at the start. It is in the interest of both sides to cultivate a new relationship that insulates European defence from the politics of Brexit.

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