After Brexit: Prospects for UK-EU cooperation on foreign and security policy

30 October 2017
Fraser Cameron (Senior Adviser to EPC on international programmes)

Both the UK and the EU want to continue cooperating closely with one another on defence and security issues after Brexit. But how this ‘close relationship’ will come about, or what it will look like is less clear. In this Policy Brief, Fraser Cameron presents us with the different options for the future, and argues that the development of the UK’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU on foreign and security policy will mainly depend on three things:

  • First, the broader positioning of the UK in global affairs. To what extent will it seek to act autonomously, and to what extent as a close partner of the EU, or even as the junior transatlantic partner to the US?
  • Second, developments within the EU itself. It is an open question whether post-Brexit the EU will form a more cohesive and effective foreign and security policy or whether it will remain divided as it was on Iraq, Libya and Syria. Various European leaders are now pushing for a stronger EU in security and defence, but previous attempts have shown how difficult it is to move forward in this sensitive area. The differences in outlook between France and Germany, for example, remain very significant.
  • Third, the final Brexit divorce settlement. An amicable separation will create goodwill to collaborate, while a nasty parting of ways will also impact on foreign and security policy. 
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