1.The UK is one of Europe’s strongest foreign policy actors. It plays a vital role in underpinning European security and, along with its European allies, in protecting and projecting liberal values around the world. Leaving the European Union (EU) will not, of itself, change this. What would change, however, is the UK’s relationship with the EU’s foreign policy, defence and security mechanisms and this, in turn, has serious implications for the UK’s bilateral foreign policy relationships with the EU Member States.
2.We launched our inquiry on 19 October with the following terms of reference:
3.Drawing on the evidence we received, this report is divided into three chapters, each addressing a specific aspect of UK diplomacy in Europe:
a)Whether the UK will continue to participate in the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and what formats might be appropriate to ensure that the UK can continue to influence the principal CFSP/CSDP decision-making bodies, the Foreign Affairs Council and the Political and Security Committee;
b)The level of contact UK ministers and officials will have with their EU and EU27 counterparts when the UK is a third country outside the EU and whether the FCO has the plans and the resources in place to replicate this level of contact elsewhere in Brussels and in the capitals of the EU27;
c)The specific implications of Brexit for UK-Ireland relations and whether the FCO has the resources in place to ensure that this uniquely broad and deep bilateral relationship remains as strong as possible after Brexit.
4.In the course of this inquiry, we visited Ireland, where we met with our interlocutors in the Houses of the Oireachtas, representatives of the Irish Government, and business groups in Dublin, Cavan and Monaghan. The Committee is grateful to all of those who met with us and to the UK Embassy in Ireland for helping to facilitate the visit. We would also like to thank those who participated in this inquiry and provided invaluable oral and written evidence.
5.It has not been possible in this report to cover all areas of post-Brexit UK-EU co-operation in foreign policy, defence and security. This is a complex and wide-ranging policy area and it will evolve as the UK moves closer to withdrawing from the EU. We may return to this topic in future inquiries.
29 January 2018