Brexit hokey cokey: the UK may be in (and out) of EU foreign policy, security and defence policy during transition

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Series Details 12.02.18
Publication Date 12/02/2018
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The United Kingdom government issued on the 12 September 2017 the ninth of a series of papers putting forward its negotiating position on the UK’s future partnership with the European Union (EU). It was published in the context of the negotiations being undertaken with the EU for the UK to leave the union following the Brexit referendum vote of June 2016.

This paper discussed options for foreign policy, defence and development collaboration in the proposed future partnership between the European Union and the United Kingdom.

The UK House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee published a report called The future of UK diplomacy in Europe on the 30 January 2018. The members of the Committee argued that close relations with friends and allies in Europe, with whom the UK shared values and interests, must be a necessary element of ‘Global Britain’ but the UK Government must clarify what level of access to EU foreign, security and defence policy decision-making it aims to secure, and it must increase its diplomatic presence in the 27 EU capitals.

The Committee called on the Government to work towards the goal of securing a level of automatic and institutionalised UK-EU collaboration that respected the decision-making autonomy of both. The Government must also set out its vision for post-Brexit UK foreign policy in Europe, spelling out overall goals and specific priorities.

The EU27 had suggested in January 2018 in the adoption of the negotiating directives on the Brexit transition period 'the EU is ready to establish partnerships with the UK in the areas of security, defence and foreign policy as well as the fight against terrorism and international crime.

Specific arrangements with the UK in these areas could also be considered during the transition period, taking into account the framework for the future relationship'.
The post-Brexit foreign, security and defence policy relationship between the EU and the UK has attracted far less attention than the future arrangements for trade and terms of access to the single market. This was, however, one of the most significant areas in which agreement needed to be reached before the UK left the EU on 31 March 2019.

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Related Links
ESO: In Focus: Brexit - The United Kingdom and the European Union
United Kingdom: House of Commons: Foreign Affairs Committee: 2nd Report (2017-19) HC514: The future of UK diplomacy in Europe (January 2018)
United Kingdom: Department for Exiting the European Union: Foreign policy, defence and development: a future partnership paper (GOV.UK, 2017)

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