Leave yet Remain? Britain’s security relationship with the EU after the General Election


16 December 2019


Egmont Institute


Session 1: Short-term Turbulence?

The election of a new UK government represents that latest stage in the unfolding Brexit process. Even with negotiations on a Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration complete there is still the prospect of considerable uncertainty in the interrelationship between the UK and EU in the areas of foreign, security and defence policy. Managing the future relationship will require significant attention even if the prospect of a no-deal Brexit has faded. In particular, ways will have to be found to manage Britain’s relations with ongoing schemes, notably in the defence industrial and capability development areas. As it is, UK participation in Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) and the European Defence Fund (EDF) remains unclear. It will also have to be seen how non-EU initiatives, such as the Lancaster House Treaties and the European Intervention Initiative (EI2) will be affected. Meanwhile, an unanswered question is whether and how London can be involved in EU foreign policy-making if ongoing crises escalate or new crises emerge.

-Chair: Richard G. Whitman
-François Cornet d’Elziu, Belgian PSC Ambassador
-Sven Biscop, Egmont Institute
-Rem Korteweg, Clingendael Institute


Session 2: Long-term Divergence or Convergence?

Long-term challenges will persist in the EU-UK relationship even if Brexit is completed on the basis of a Withdrawal Agreement. A new long-term institutional relationship is envisaged in the Political Declaration on the future relationship, in the areas of foreign policy as well as defence. However, a key determining factor of the future relationship will be whether British and EU strategic thinking will remain largely converging, notably on the transatlantic relationship and on the position to take towards China and Russia. There may also be countervailing pressures from a redefinition of UK foreign and security policy interests beyond Europe, an emerging new UK trade and investment policy. To what extent will these drive a growing divergence in priorities between the UK and the EU?

-Chair: Richard G. Whitman
-Tania Latici, European Parliament
-Peter Watkins, Chatham Jouse
-Guillaume de La Brosse, Task Force UK, European Commission


(Photo credit: Egmont Institute)