Event Reports

Defence and security in Europe – Biden and Brexit as new parameters

London, 9 March 2021: The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in partnership with The Federal Trust and Global Policy Institute held an online discussion where distinguished speakers shared their views on the future development of European and British foreign, defence and security policy from a German, British and EU perspective.

David McAllister MEP, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the European Parliament, said that while the EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement is comprehensive, it lacks chapters on substantial matters such as foreign affairs, security and defence cooperation due to the unwillingness in London to negotiate on these matters. He stressed that as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, and a loyal NATO ally, the UK will continue to be an important player in the international arena. However, McAllister suggested that the UK and EU should set up a particular structure of security cooperation, highlighting that the EU has a number of tools to involve third countries in its various defence policies.

Dr Victoria Honeyman, Associate Professor of British Politics, University of Leeds, said the relationship between the EU and the UK, as far as foreign policy is concerned, has never quite measured up, in British political parties, to their expectations of the relationship with the US and the UK. Dr Honeyman highlighted that it isn't so much Brexit that changes the foreign policy debate in Britain, it is the fact the Britain may be forced, partially because of Brexit, partially because of new realities and partially because of old realities to try and adapt our views on foreign policy. Dr Honeyman argued that in foreign policy terms, the aims of Britain have changed very little and it needs to recognise that the world is changing and perhaps they may wish to be more cooperative with their EU partners

Professor Richard G. Whitman, Professor of Politics and International Relations, University of Kent, said there is a hole in the EU and UK security and defence policy relationship, calling this a surprising situation as the UK and EU are both seeking greater relevance in the context of transforming geopolitics and geoeconomics. Professor Whitman suggested that there is a good argument for both the UK and the EU to engage on the strategic autonomy objective. He warned that we shouldn't make the best the enemy of the good, in other words if we can't have a formal agreement between the EU and UK on security and defence and foreign policy area, there are other ways which they can work together.

You can watch a recording of the event here