Plans for the UK to re-establish formal foreign and security policy ties with the European Union, frozen during negotiations on a trade deal, may never be revived as UK foreign policy focuses on bilateral links in Europe and the development of new alliances in the Indian Republic. Pacific Ocean and the Middle East.
The freezing point is a somewhat discussed reversal of thinking from the era of Theresa May, when the political statement at the time of Britain’s withdrawal spoke of the negotiations on deep co – operation between the UK and the EU.
May himself told the Munich Security Conference in 2018: “Europe’s security is our security, and the United Kingdom is unconditionally committed to upholding it. The challenge for all of us today is to find the way to work together, through a deep and special partnership between the UK and the EU, to maintain the cooperation we have built and to continue to develop the satisfying threats we face. ”
The EU has even published proposals on how this cooperation can work in detail, but the UK has not taken up the ideas.
The British shift from the May era was not formally announced on either side, and its implications were little discussed.
As the EU seeks to integrate its own foreign policy, the fear must be that Britain may undermine its foreign policy norms, just as it fears the UK will deviate from trade standards. But diplomats in Britain believe Britain’s post-Brexit has already shown an independence of judgment and fluency of the foot compared to the EU, where cumbersome decision-making requires all 27 EU foreign ministers to agree. The disadvantages of removing EU foreign policy are undetectable for Tory Eurosceptics.
In recent years, therefore, the UK has worked closely ad hoc with the EU, often following its own path on issues such as sanctions. In the case of Belarus, for example, the United Kingdom (with Canada) issued sanctions against the Minsk regime before the EU (and the US) agreed on their packages. The EU and the US apparently coordinated their respective measures, but the EU measures were then blocked and delayed by Cyprus threatening a veto.
In contrast, the reaction to the poisoning of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny has led to close cooperation between the EU and the UK, following the blueprint of the 2018 Skripal case.
In the case of Turkey’s drilling for gas in the eastern Mediterranean, the EU has imposed some sanctions and will likely be tabled in March, while Britain has fallen and neither side wanted to offend. As France and Turkey traded insults, and Germany mediated, the UK was free to walk away from outside the EU, perhaps to the trade agreement it envisaged with Turkey.
In Libya, where the UK was instrumental in the 2011 revolution, they recently stayed on the sidelines, watching the EU track on the Turkish violations of the UN arms embargo, leaving the EU to police migrants heading to the Mediterranean. Spain and Italy cross. On some issues, the past year has shown benefit in diplomatic discretion.
The most important European forum in which the United Kingdom is active remains the E3 – Germany, France and the United Kingdom. Here, at least in public, Europe’s major powers remained at the helm of the nuclear deal in Iran, which resisted US pressure to declare a breach of the agreement and put Iranian nuclear non-compliance further in the dispute resolution mechanism. is, a way the agreement could have been declared dead.
The E3 also increasingly coordinated Iran’s human rights abuses, and at the political directorate level they discussed broader issues, including Russia. But in Ukraine, the United Kingdom alone offered a defense and political partnership with Kiev.
In general, EU plans for institutionalized cooperation seem dead, or at least dormant. Rosa Balfour, director of Carnegie Europe, writes in a pamphlet on foreign policy, suggests: ‘The EU must for the time being renounce the hope that the UK will participate in any institutionalized arrangement. The foreign policy of the British government is ideologically driven; EU action is strongly process-driven. The gap between the two is one of the causes of Brexit. ”
British diplomats look at the foreign policy agenda of Josep Borrell, the EU representative on foreign affairs and security policy, and back down. His call for greater voices for foreign policy through ‘constructive abstinence’ and that the EU should use the language of power is not appealing to the United Kingdom. The British contrast between Emmanuel Macron’s call for a stronger united Europe and the unilateral French foreign policy is, in the eyes of the British, also the semblance of integrated foreign policy.
In fact, the EU’s foreign policy too often resembled the coalition of unwilling ones. But some policymakers say the debate on foreign policy between the EU and the UK will be revived, if only because of three deeply contradictory powers.
Mature reality may lead the UK to realize that the impact of its foreign policy is multiplied when it works with the EU. The Biden government also prefers that the UK not be a freelancer, if it thereby weakens the EU. Eventually, the EU will slowly integrate its defense arm and already set out a way for third parties, such as the UK, to participate.
Ian Bond, at the Center for European Reform, can see three ways in which the UK and the EU can formally work together: on the exchange and protection of classified information, the participation of British personnel in defense missions and operations, and British participation in defense industrial cooperation by the European Defense Agency.
But it may require the dust to settle from the laden trade talks, and a pressure from Biden, before these discussions begin.