UK Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron have agreed a range of measures to further strengthen defence cooperation between the two countries.
While Brexit negotiations between the UK government and the European Union continue to progress at snail's pace, UK Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron agreed a range of measures to strengthen defence cooperation between the UK and France at a summit at Sandhurst on 18th January.
Cooperation between the countries is important, as they are the only European powers with the ability and political will to deploy and sustain significant military force. A number of initiatives were announced at the Summit to strengthen UK-France cooperation, building on the 2010 Lancaster House Treaties.
Among the measures announced:
• President Macron has agreed to further French support to the UK-led enhanced Forward Presence battlegroup in Estonia in 2019, which will help to deter Russian aggression towards NATO Allies and bolster the security of NATO’s Eastern flank.
• The UK will deploy RAF Chinook helicopters to Mali to provide logistical support for the French counter-terrorism mission there. This will increase British logistical support to France’s Operation Barkhane, which up to now has been limited to RAF strategic air transport flights.
• The two countries are launching a UK-France Defence Ministerial Council, creating a permanent and regular forum in which UK and French Defence cooperation can be discussed by the two Defence Ministers.
• With reference to the Brexit negotiations, both countries underlined the importance of the ability of the UK’s defence industry to continue to be able to engage in European defence research and capability development programmes.
• The UK will work with France and other European partners to support the development of the proposed European Intervention Initiative (EII) — a defence cooperation framework that aims to improve operational planning and coordination of military deployments among European partners with meaningful capabilities. The EII will be separate from the EU, and will be complementary to existing NATO, EU and JEF military structures and initiatives.
• The two countries confirmed that the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF) will be fully operational by 2020 and able to carry out a full range of complex and demanding expeditionary military combat operations on land, in the air and at sea; or to provide peace-keeping, disaster relief or humanitarian assistance.