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Daniel Keohane @KeohaneDan
, 16 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
Good piece by ⁦@laurnorman⁩ on EU-UK security cooperation post-Brexit, with a nice quote from ⁦@jan_techau⁩: The EU “are negotiating a geopolitical issue of enormous eminence and they are negotiating this as a bureaucratic issue”. wsj.com/articles/troub…
I have long argued that EU-UK foreign and defence cooperation should be a “win-win” area, even naively hoping that a quick succesful resolution might encourage a more positive negotiating atmosphere generally. This was my take for @CSS_Zurich in March 2017 css.ethz.ch/content/dam/et…
Why has it not panned out like this? I think there are a few reasons. In general, on EU side, seems to be growing distrust of UK postions, because of muddled way HMG has handled the negotiations. Specifically on defence, I also wonder if UK over-estimated strength of this card.
Any rational strategic analysis would say it is in the EU’s interest to work closely with the UK on military matters. No-one should seriously object in principle to the UK contributing to EU operations, joining EU sanctions, or capability development - including Galileo...
But the implict threat in UK PM May’s article 50 letter last year, to withhold security cooperation unless trade terms were satisfactory went down very badly. To her credit, she has since tried to rectify this, insisting that two are not linked. See HMG paper & her Munich speech.
Indeed HMG’s approach on this since its position paper last September has been very constructive, and based on a sound strategic rationale. But it is still cutting little political ice with the EU - both the Commission & govns - and not nearly as much as many might expect, why?
Well, for one, NATO is what matters for the defence of Europe - as many in UK pointed out pre & since 2016 referendum - & HMG has been doubling down on NATO and bilateral relationships. Yes Trump creating uncertainty, but would HMG align with him if he reduced commitment to NATO?
Similarly, some might argue that if EU “punishes” the UK and it suffers economically, then UK may “drift” and become an “awkward partner” at best, or potentially hostile at worst. But, apart from relinking trade terms and security commitments, what would UK do, align with Russia?
None of that is to say the EU should not consider more seriously the geostrategic consequences of Brexit, and need for alignment afterwards. The EU should do that. But specifically on CSDP, my hunch is, there are a couple of other aspects that make EU more cautious than expected.
As has been well documented, despite jointly inventing EU military cooperation, with France in 1998, the UK has not always been the most supportive of this policy area. So for some it is a little grating that the UK is suddenly so keen to be involved, Galileo is a perfect example
But that history in itself is not a good enough reason not to have close cooperation in the future. I also wonder if some on EU side don’t expect UK to contribute much to EU military operations, given it hasn’t done so relative to others in past & now doubling down on NATO etc.
And I suspect there is suspicion on EU side that HMG making these arguments mainly for defence industrial reasons, than strategic ones. & that is aspect on which EU can budge least: partly legal reasons, & partly as flexibility here inconsistent with overall EU negotiation stance
While I very much see and agree with the strategic logic of close EU-UK alignment and military cooperation post-Brexit, I am sceptical the UK will get anything more than what is currently on offer, especially re those industrial aspects. There is simply too much distrust, sadly.
I would gladly be proven wrong, and my hope now is that this is handled with greater political care on both sides. It is crucial, for example, to keep NATO Brexit-proof” politically. I did not set out to write a thread, but I sincerely hope we avoid a “lose-lose” scenario. ENDS
PS 1/2 what does give me hope is that UK is signed up to Macron’s EI2, which is outside EU structures and may become more important for autonomous European military operations. UK critics right that EU has not fulfilled potential in this area and may never match original ambition
PS 2/2 Brexit means that France is stuck in the middle between a UK that doesn’t like the EU and a Germany that doesn’t like military force. EI2 offers a way around that dilemma - as, “strategic autonomy” or not, Europeans will have to take more responsibility for their security.
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