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.

French and British helicopters deployed together in Mali.

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.

A British C-17 assisting French efforts in Mali.

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:

  1. Ensure that Brexit does not endanger security cooperation between the UK and the EU. This includes maintaining existing ‘border cooperation agreements’
  2. ‘Fully implement’ the Lancaster House Treaties and form an annual UK-France Defence and Security Council
  3. Increase sharing of training facilities
  4. 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. 

52 COMMENTS

  1. honestly we need to avoid joint development with france at all costs or they will want to design it – build it – steal uk technology and let the uk pay for it all and then disappear off to go it alone

    • totally agree! we need to go all in with japan on 6th gen, and let Sweden take part too….. anything but Germany/France….. France will bail if they don’t get their way (and then finish it on their own to compete), and Germany will promise much then bail on their orders driving up unit costs….

  2. I have no prpblem sharing intelligence with France, and improving interoperability through training, joint exercises, deployments etc. But everyone knows by now the French are a disaster to deal with on for defense industrial strategy. Good luck to Germany on their future fighter program. I take it the £140mm has already been spent on the fcas joint project with so far little to see in return?

    • Amazing isn’t it only last week we hear how France is again deciding how it intends to replace its aircraft carrier despite not so long ago dropping out of joint building of QE class (derivative) carriers to replace it because it was supposedly too expensive an option. And that’s despite the basic winning design being by a French company. Fact is they wanted lead design and build despite only getting a third of the ships. Nightmare doesn’t do justice to working with the French and as a result both will be paying far more for their carriers than they needed to, not to mention the time wasted to try to accommodate their in out shake it all about negotiating stance.

      I wonder how much they got out of us during this fcas joint project farce before jumping ship.

      • Hopefully joint development of the C-UAV is dead in the water between France and the UK. There where too many areas where both wanted to be lead developer on and I don’t see economies of scale kicking in to offset the loss of doing it all ourselves when we perfectly capable.
        I think the carrier just didn’t come about at the right time for France who are now a single carrier navy. It would have saved them a fortune if they just selected the design with EMALS now they are looking at spending at least €5bn on a single ship.

  3. Sadly most of the break up of the relationship has been down to the duplicity of the French, despite as usual we never asking for more than equality or relative parity in any programmes we might participate in. It seems they are happy to take it to a level whereby they can extract maximum benefit and in particular technological expertise, and then precictably desert into the lap of someone else they feel to be more pliable to their quest for control. Reflects the story of their role in the EU itself I guess, which has so alienated that organisation to so many this side of the puddle, but post Brexit will eventually leave France increasingly balkanised by an ever politically burgeoning Germany as a result of playing games with what should be its closest ally. And I thought it was us who were always accused of living on past glories. They never seem to learn from their foreign policy short sightedness that’s for sure.

  4. Am I the only one screaming so that this IS included as part of the brexit agreement? Otherwise it’s tantamount to saying that the European union can give us a rubbish trade deal, but not to worry as they can be safe in the knowledge that we will keep spending billions to underpin their defence. Take the UK and our allies out of Europe defence and see whats left. But obviously we won’t be missed as we are such a small insignificant country who should be grateful for anything we can get from Brussels

  5. France and the entire EU have nothing to offer us either militarily or in terms of intelligence sharing. We can continue to deal with them in the way we deal with anyone else sharing info on criminals etc and terrorists plots but that should be and end to it.

    France and Germany have slapped the UK around royally over Brexit well the rest of our so called friends and allies watched silently and did nothing.

    Once the dust settles on Brexit the UK should begin to withdraw from the European aspects of NATO removing all troops from continental Europe and scaling back any and all training with EU Nations and also halt intelligence sharing beyond the bare minimum.

    Then refocus efforts with countries like Norway, USA, Canada and Australia. Countries like Estonia and Poland must learn the consequences of their actions in putting their faith in France and Germany while only perusing their own very narrow set of economic interest to the UK’s detriment. Then consider bi lateral treaties with countries like the Netherlands and Italy that actually did stick up for us in negotiations.

    To many of these countries have gotten use to multi lateral relations when they are all free to take the piss. Its time to return to bilateral basis.

    Macron and Merkel can then start to invest in armored divisions to guard their new empire.

  6. I remember reading the first time France was invited to participate in Red Flag basically all they did was fly around in their Rafales with the ESM stuff sucking in all the electromagnetic spectrum of the other participants during the 2 weeks.

  7. I am old enough to remember the spat over how the name of the Franco-British Concord(e) was to be spelt. The Brits eventually gave in and agreed to “Concorde”. In making the announcement the UK Minister said that amongst others things the “E” stood for Entente,Excellent,England etc.! I am sure that Private Eye pointed out that it also stood for Excrement, Eyewash and something else which I can’t remember1 🙂
    ViveL’Entente Cordiale!

  8. Doesn’t this just go to show how the European Union project has gone too far? A simple idea of a common trade market between friendly European countries, turned into a massive superstate that has the power to dictate the future course of our militaries. Who are these people, when did they obtain so much influence over Anglo-French defense-relations, and why do they have the power to do so. Tell me the names of these.. Foreign politicians who have such an authoritarian grasp over British defense.

    The EU was hijacked by power-hungry politicians and globalists alike. It was a wonderful concept nastily molded and corrupted into something so ghastly and horrible.

  9. I can’t remember a single Anglo French military project that hasn’t ended in compromise ie in favour of the French or collapse. Helicopters, Jaguar, Horizon, the carrier programme and now the Franco German fighter and these are just the ones that come immediately to mind.
    If we are to build a firm defence power base in Europe I would suggest we do it where we are needed most and concentrate on extending ties with the Netherlands, Poland and the Scandinavian and Baltic states, leaving the Mediterranean states to kook after the Mediterranean.

    • I agree with all you said, except:

      “leaving the Mediterranean states to kook after the Mediterranean.”

      In my opinion that should firmly be in the British remit, thanks to our strategic position in Cyprus and Gibraltar (in a perfect world, that would be Malta and Suez as well). Either way, having such a strong position in the EU’s underbelly is a real asset to us

      • Levi….good point. I was thinking so much about the North Atlantic I left the back door open! That mistake has been made before.

  10. Defense News article this morning. The bickering between Airbus and Dasault has already started, dragging in Thales and the respective governments. European co operation at it,s best!

  11. Separating popular domestic politics from defence will be particularly difficult with regards to France. The current French President appears to display a need to make statements that hardly lay oil on the Brexit waters? However, the grow Russian cyber activity and a growing threat in the Middle and Far East cannot be allowed to get entangled in vacuous political exchanges.

  12. Brexit should have nothing to do with this.

    European security is underpinned by NATO.

    The French attend 5 Eyes meetings? I did not know that. They too have a network of listening stations akin to the “Echelon” System of the NSA ( 5 Eyes ) conveniently forgotten in the hysteria of the big bad west spying on people ( read Snowden / Guardian / General lefty hysteria. )

    I’d not touch defence industrial co operation with them with a barge pole!

    Sadly HMG is actually that naive, as history keeps repeating itself, as highlighted by other posters.

  13. As the two European Countries with some ( complimentary) military capability and similar world wide interests, it’s important to work closely with the French, as indeed we are in Mali.

    That said, joint development and procurement with the French is a very bad idea … For all the excellent hisoric reasons stated above.

    For the purposes of this article though, let’s divorce the vexed issues of Brexit and joint development, from working together on operations.

    Our Armed forces will no doubt increasingly work together on operations, for the betterment of both.

    • Peeps,

      Just remember the Falklands. When push came to shove, and after the conflict had already started, the French still handed over the software codes to the Argies for the Exocets, and that did not end well for the RN. (…and why we need our own Commonwealth-based missile and other critical military kit development programs)

      Having said that, some of the French are my heroes, and some did so much in WWI & WWII with us to help. Trouble is (IMO) there has always been basically two Frances. Vichy France or anglo-friendly France. To this day we see echoes of this.

      • Hang on a minute there Albert, The French sold Exocet’s to Argentina complete with the ability to Target, Aim and Launch, a fair time before the Conflict, Together with the relevant Aircraft, (As did We with the Ex RN Destroyers ) I believe that they then provided Vital Info to Britain on how to counteract them, eventually.

        • Yes I thought the French intelligence service assisted SIS in preventing arms sales of further exocet to Argentina.

        • Captain p wash
          The historical facts of 1982 are that yes Argentina had purchased a limited number of Exocet missiles before the war. Alongside the Super Etenard strike jets with agarve radar sets needed to target surface warships. However Dassault needed to send a technical team over to Argentina immediately pre war as the Argies airforce could not integrate Exocet onto the Super Etenard aircraft. This technical team remained in Argentina (conveniently forgotten about) and aided the Argies in the system integration therefore directly attributing to HMS Sheffield’s loss and Atlantic Conveyor.
          Dassault then rubbed their hands with glee as the world went mad for Exocet and Dassault sold over £2 billion in missiles worldwide over the next 18 months.
          Summary: France is a fair weather friend. Whilst all is going well they pretend to be our “friends and allies” but when push comes to shove they will serve their own national interest even including when UK armed forces personnel and civilians lives are at risk. (As in the Falklands) I do not think we should be undertaking any closer integration and think as part of any BREXIT negotiations the UKs willingness to support EU countries from an intelligence and defence perspective should have been explicitly made clear.
          If we get no deal or a shit deal from our “friends and allies”will we still be looking for a close and special relationship. I think not.

      • It was the Israelis who gave the Argentinians tech support to get Exocet to fly. The French did what they could to stop the Argentinians. We mustn’t forget Peru’s support for the latter.

    • How are we complimentary with France? They have literally nothing we actually need. Apart from anti ship missiles.
      Meanwhile they need RAF strategic airlift. Type 45s as carrier screening air defence destroyers. Royal marine and airborne forces as their own are sorry to say this. Crap.
      Once QE carriers in service we will have a big stick, unmatched by any power in Europe. Do not even get me started on the sheer power of the Astute class subs. If I was PM I would order a batch 2 (3-4 more of these subs) lengthened with VL cruise missile silos. Then we would not only have a war winning attack sub but enough of them.

  14. I’d council the opposite. I’d instead argue for more cooperation with more reliable partners who are genuinely aligned with British interests. The French aren’t. In fact they are politically aligned against the interests of this country.
    Macron wants to deliver a punishment Brexit to the UK. Well that he is entitled to try. However in the same way that he has the freedom to act malevolently he should also enjoy the rewards for pursuing such actions.
    We should limit our defence cooperation to minimal levels with France.
    Lets see how well France copes with being the major power responsible for the defence of Europe with a defence budget of only 1.8% of GDP. Let’s see how successful Macron will be in getting the Germans to help with the burden of European defence. Likewise I’d be interested to see how keen the Germans will be to defend France’s interests in Africa.
    The UK should instead look more globally for more firm allies. We should instead seek to secure stronger defence partnerships with Australia, Canada, Japan and the United States.

    • With you Entirely on that. Britain should no longer bow down to Europe but fully re engage with Historical Links, Despite all the Bad bits that we are always being reminded of. Onwards and Upwards. We have a unique and amazing Past, unrivalled In recorded History and Unparalleled In Achievement. Let’s just get back to what we are Great At and stop bloody Moaning about a fair and Democratic Vote.

  15. Have to make it a first. I agree with all your comments. But here’s an idea. When we sign any deal with the French we should do so with the intention of stealing as much as we can from them while giving them nothing then walk away. After all it’s what they do.

  16. Galileo should be a lesson never to be forgotten,we have been treated appallingly and our money and satellite industry basically stolen.

  17. If anything kicked off I’d say the UK could do far worse than the French beside us, they are a very capable fighting force. However industrial cooperation, well I think ( and hope the government) we’ve learnt the lesson there.

  18. The only things the French have which I wish we had is NOSTRADAMUS and all their satellites (instead of depending on the US and sharing.)

  19. This from a Country that came out with an idea of building bit of each other Carriers in which they would have one, but would have about just over 40% of the build contract. Blair would have or nearly did fall for it, but it is a least something that stopped when Brown came in for better or worse. Why are we even entertaining them? Anything Europe or eu is bad.

  20. To my knowledge we only share ELINT satellites with the NSA and we don’t share but we have access to one at any time as we paid for it, although which satellite this is can be changed. Other US satellites we use are provided by outside Contractors and we buy imagery just as the US military does. It’s worth noting that the US military also leases time on Skynet from us.

    The only comment I have heard back re French ELINT satellite capability is that they have no idea how far behind GCHQ/NSA capability they are.

    That being said I would love to see the UK fly a constellation of 15 satellites with 5 SAR 5 EO/IR And 5 video at any one time SSTL can knock theee out at £20million a piece so it’s a fairly Low cost constellation for us to operate, we could also sell the data and provide it to troops at a tactical level as it’s low res commercial tech.

    • The world is behind NSA GCHQ capability, and 5 eyes in general I think.

      I would not want France having any access to that.

      According to scaremongers our intelligence network was going to suffer if we leave the EU. I rather think it’s the other way round if the EU wish to be awkward.

      • Maggie….our intelligence community will be just fine. The EU however will suffer by not having us on their side. Especially if they continue this BS attempt at punishing us for daring to vote to regain our sovereignty.

  21. I note that all this talk re UK/French defence responsibility avoids mentioning the richest Nation in Europe, namely Germany. How is it that Nation gets away with their miserly spend on defence.
    Strange

    • Peter be in no doubt. Germany now controls Europe. They failed to do so in 2 world wars but now do so politically and economically.
      As long as we continue to shoulder the burden of defence and stupidly help to defend them whilst they deliver no deal BREXIT there will be no change to Germany’s defence expenditure.

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