A new report led by former NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson and former French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has warned leaders to ‘tackle the security challenges raised by Brexit’.
Published jointly by the Policy Institute at King’s College London and Institute Montaigne, the report also recommends a UK-France joint doctrine for responding to cyber threats, and a formalised intelligence sharing agreement. France already attends regular meetings of Five Eyes, an intelligence network comprising of the UK, US, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.
‘Security issues need to be isolated and insulated in the negotiations for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, and kept separate from the trade and customs aspects of the talks’
A stronger defence and security relationship between the two countries is said to be especially important in light of the United States’ ‘strategic shift towards the Pacific, reinforced by President Trump’s unilateral and isolationist policy’.
The report argues that as ‘the main military powers of the European continent’, the UK and France must be more self-reliant on defence and security.
It is intended to build on the Lancaster House Treaties of 2010 that currently form the basis of UK-France defence cooperation. The treaty stated that neither party could envisage ‘a situation in which the vital interests of one of the parties could be threatened without those of the other’. The report however warns that ‘the world has changed’ since the agreement, and cooperation needs to be furthered to counter emerging threats. Whilst not specifically naming China, ‘the emergence of new powers’ is identified as a threat in the report.
‘This partnership is all the more central for the security of the European continent as the threats we face have never been greater’
UK-France defence cooperation is described as ‘never [having] been so fragile’. This it says is partly due to Brexit, and partly due to the failure of joint equipment programs. It highlights ‘pursuing interoperability of our aircraft carriers, developing the next generation of nuclear submarines and producing a medium – and long-endurance surveillance drone’ as examples that have failed.
The Future Combat Air System (FCAS) also appears compromised, with Dassault and Airbus agreeing to develop an aircraft for France, Germany, and Spain, and BAE Systems unveiling Tempest for the UK. FCAS was part of a 2014 £120M UK-France development contract that could have seen BAE work with Dassault.
Other contributors to the report include former CEO of BAE Systems Ian King, and former National Security Advisor Lord Ricketts.
The following formal recommendations were made:
- Ensure that Brexit does not endanger security cooperation between the UK and the EU. This includes maintaining existing ‘border cooperation agreements’
- ‘Fully implement’ the Lancaster House Treaties and form an annual UK-France Defence and Security Council
- Increase sharing of training facilities
- Implement a formal intelligence sharing network between the UK and France
Lord Robertson and Bernard Cazeneuve said:
“A fragile or fractured relationship between the United Kingdom and France would jeopardise our security as much as that of other countries in Europe and around the world. Despite how necessary it may be, this cooperation has never been so precarious. The situation is urgent and therefore we are jointly formulating concrete proposals to give a new impetus to this historic partnership which is based on shared values and ambitions”.
The report can be read in full here.