Great Britain promised yesterday (12 September) that it would cooperate with the European Union to implement foreign sanctions following the Brexit and that it would lend its military might to the bloc. Military and security contributions are key cards in the EU-UK divorce talks after both sides hit roadblocks over the UK’s final bill following Brexit. London, however, decided to emphasize a strong economic partnership including military cooperation. France and the UK are the backbone of the EU’s military, intelligence and foreign policy weight.
In the latest paper on the future relations with the EU, the British government sought to address a major concern of pro-Brussels lawmakers: that Britain would lose its say on foreign policy discussions including sanctions and other restrictive measures after it receives the bloc. The UK said it was seeking closer defense cooperation than any other country with the EU and would deploy its military capabilities to fight terrorism and cybercrime.
The UK has the biggest defense spending in Europe and the second largest in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) after the United States. Moreover, the UK and France are the only European members of the United Nations Security Council. At the same time, Brussels is unequivocal about not allowing London to use its military as a bargaining chip. One solution could be to set up a formal body for the UK and the EU to discuss foreign policy strategy and security issues to ensure a smooth cooperation. However, the British government did not say yet how this could work in practice, though London spelled out that the continuity of military cooperation was crucial because Europe was more fragile than any time since the end of the Cold War.