The European Union has rejected post-Brexit defense plan since the United Kingdom cannot maintain full participation in the bloc’s foreign policy. This is yet another blow to the British government’s ambitions for the future of the EU-UK ties after the divorce. The European Commission confirmed that it was committed to strong relations and cooperation on foreign, security and defense issues: “a number of UK requests are contrary to the parameters”.
It’s the latest setback to London, which has had its proposals for the nature of future relations repeatedly dismissed on the grounds that the UK cannot expect the same level of participation as EU member states. London, however, believed that defense and security are too important to cut back on. The Commission said that the UK’s participation in defense projects “should be decided on a case-by-case and exceptional basis” by EU members and the scope of engagement should be allowed only “where it significantly participates to the fulfillment of the Union’s level of ambition.”
Brussels is concerned that the London’s demands for tighter collaboration could do harm to the “autonomy of the EU’s decision-making” and set a precedent for other non-EU countries. As an EU member, Britain has led the way on discussions on EU sanctions such as in case of Russia over Crimea. The EU’s expectation is that the UK will align its sanctions policy with that of the bloc’s. British Prime Minister Theresa May said that she wished for a deal on UK-EU security cooperation to be concluded fast but the EU’s stance falls a long way short of what she said she hopes to achieve. The issue is going to be covered by the negotiations on the future relations that are continuing over the upcoming months.