Brexit: Common Security and Defence Policy missions and operations Contents

Chapter 5: Future UK-EU co-operation

Desirability for the UK of continued participation in CSDP missions and operations

Civilian and military considerations

175.Dr Duke thought it “reasonable to expect” that there would be “occasions” on which the UK might wish to contribute to CSDP missions and operations after Brexit, both “financially and with staff/troops”.346

176.For civilian missions, he argued that the UK might consider “whether sufficient police, rule of law and other civil administration skills are available in the EU27”.347 The UK might also see “benefits to associating with CSDP civilian missions, especially in those areas where there are ramifications for the EU’s internal security (counterterrorism, organised crime and cybersecurity) where the UK may wish to establish closer connections and access to vital databases”.348

177.For military missions and operations, General Sir Adrian Bradshaw thought the UK “should be ready to contribute forces to future operations if they are quite obviously in our interests and in the collective interests of Europe”.349 Dr Duke said that the issue was not just “whether to contribute”, but also “if so in what capacity”. There might be a link between the UK’s ability to take a “leadership role” and its willingness to provide troops.350

178.Mr Lapsley, of the FCO, said that there would be a difference in the level of “political accountability” required between, on the one hand, “civilian missions or military missions that do not have an executive mandate—capacity-building or training missions” and, on the other, “missions where you are actually asking service personnel to put themselves at risk or to carry out executive or kinetic operations”.351 He said it was “clear” that “the further down that line” an operation was, “the higher the degree of political oversight that we would need”.352

179.Mr Lapsley added that the UK would need to “work through” what level of direct EU command would be acceptable, as it had done when working with the US in “coalition situations”. He noted that—as described in Chapter 4—a contributing state to a CSDP operation (whether a Member State or third country) retains “the ultimate right to stop [its personnel] doing whatever they are doing or to pull them out”.353

180.Dr Duke also suggested that the UK’s decision on whether to commit to military CSDP missions and operations could be influenced by whether this might have “trade-offs for European security more generally and NATO’s role”.354 SaferGlobe also drew a link: it described CSDP missions and operations as “closely associated with NATO co-operation”, and said they “enhance interoperability of both EU and NATO”.355 We note that this may overstate the case: only Operation Althea uses the Berlin Plus arrangements, and as we concluded in our 2016 report, Europe in the world: Towards a more effective EU foreign and security strategy, EU-NATO co-operation is relatively limited.356

Mission- and operation-specific considerations

181.Our witnesses highlighted a number of CSDP missions and operations which they expected to remain important to the UK after Brexit, in light of their relevance to UK foreign policy goals (as discussed in Chapter 3).

182.General Sir Adrian Bradshaw said that the decision on Operation Althea was “pretty simple: if it remains in our defence and security interests to contribute, we should of course continue to contribute.” In his view, it would “self-evidently” remain so, and the UK should “continue to contribute at a similar level to today”. He added that the UK should also maintain its contribution to the reserve forces for Operation Althea: “If things started unwinding, we would want to be there very quickly and having influence on how the thing was resolved.”357

183.He said there was “no suggestion right now that the DSACEUR will no longer be the Operational Commander” of Operation Althea after Brexit, although it “may be a subject for debate in the future”. He thought there was “no intrinsic reason why he should not continue to do so as a Brit, because he is a NATO officer in that post”.358 He was also confident that the UK would retain the DSACEUR post within NATO.359 We discuss the different possible models for UK participation in CSDP missions and operations later in this chapter.

184.Lord Ricketts agreed that UK input to Operation Althea—and EULEX Kosovo—should continue: “Clearly, we want to put political effort into maintaining slow forward movement in the Balkans, so why would we not want to continue to contribute to the EU missions that are trying to do good work there?”360 Dr Jacobs also thought it would be “in the interest of the UK to continue, if it can, to provide relatively senior-level positions” to EULEX Kosovo.361 Although noting that the future of EULEX Kosovo was uncertain, Dr Ejdus agreed that the UK “should have an interest in staying” part of it, and he “would advise the UK Government to keep its current positions, especially the north portfolio”. This was “going to be extremely important for stability, not only of Kosovo but of the Western Balkans as a whole”, and the UK had an interest in “contributing positively to the dialogue”.362

185.Lord Ricketts also suggested that the UK should continue to contribute to the EU’s missions and operations in the Horn of Africa: “Having chosen to put effort into a region” via the CSDP, “we should sustain it”.363 Dr Oksamytna believed the UK’s interests in Somalia would continue to be aligned with those of the EU—preventing terrorism and piracy, averting humanitarian crises, and creating conditions for development.364 Dr Chappell and Dr Barrinha highlighted the ongoing value of Operation Atalanta: “Overall, it is in the UK’s interests to continue to participate in this operation, and in any similar future ventures, as the Gulf of Aden is a major shipping route for the UK’s trade with the rest of the world.”365

186.Major General Stickland said that while “from a military perspective, there are some very sensible reasons why you would maintain Atalanta as it is”, he had “been asked by the EU to offer my thoughts on the things that need to be considered if it comes to a transition of command”.366 Other Member States had expressed interest in taking over the role of Operational Headquarters.367

187.Dr Ejdus said the UK should also be interested in continuing its participation in EUCAP Somalia, “not least because 65% of UK gas and oil supplies pass through the Gulf of Aden.” Participation would help to “protect this strategic line of communication for the UK”. It was “in the best interests of the UK” to make the mission “a success story from within”.368

188.Lord Ricketts suggested the UK “should keep an engagement” in the Sahel, where EU CSDP activities—EUCAP Sahel Niger, EUCAP Sahel Mali and EUTM Mali—support wider French engagement.369 Sir Stephen O’Brien, former Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Co-ordinator, United Nations, thought that EUCAP Sahel Mali and EUCAP Sahel Niger’s role “in providing training and strategic advice to national security forces in the Sahel region” could in future “become even more essential”.370

189.Taking a thematic approach, Agora Think Tank suggested that the UK should consider “contributions on a case-by-case basis to maritime CSDP missions, supporting trade, maritime security and humanitarian aid operations”, as these “align well with the UK’s pursuit of its foreign policy priorities”.371 Dr Duke agreed that “the UK’s primary interest is likely to remain maritime, especially ensuring that SLOCs [Sea Lanes of Communication] are open for trade beyond the EU”. He also thought it was “likely that many of the UK’s security interests will remain in the EU’s neighbourhood area, including the EU’s candidates, if only for the simple reason that many of the EU’s members are also NATO members”.372

The Government’s aspirations

190.On 12 September 2017, the Department for Exiting the European Union published Foreign policy, defence and development—a future partnership paper.373 This document set out “the Government’s vision” for the “new, deep and special partnership with the European Union”.374

191.The document stated that its proposed “ambitious new partnership would provide the opportunity for the UK and the EU to work together in CSDP missions and operations.375 [emphasis in original] It continued:

“With this deep level of cooperation, the UK could work with the EU during mandate development and detailed operational planning. The level of UK involvement in the planning process should be reflective of the UK’s contribution. As part of this enhanced partnership, the UK could offer assistance through a continued contribution to CSDP missions and operations, including UK personnel, expertise, assets, or use of established UK national command and control facilities.”376 [emphasis in original]

192.The document concluded:

“The UK supports a future partnership with the EU unlike any other EU-third country relationship. What the UK is offering will be unprecedented in its breadth … and in its depth, in terms of the degree of engagement that the UK and the EU should aim to deliver. … It should take as its starting point the degree of existing cooperation that has evolved through the UK’s membership of the EU and be capable of adapting to the future threats and opportunities. … It is the UK’s ambition to work as closely as possible together with the EU.”377

The likelihood of the Government’s aspirations being realised

The UK’s leverage

193.Dr Duke described the aspirations for CSDP co-operation set out in the Future partnership paper as an “upbeat assessment”. He cautioned that, while “the UK undoubtedly puts much on the table”, there were “different perspectives … regarding the implied bargaining leverage of the UK’s security role”. It could not, therefore, be “assumed” that the Future partnership paper would be the starting point for UK-EU27 negotiations.378 Professor Menon likewise described the paper as having “a slight sense of ‘cake and eat it’”.379

194.We asked witnesses about areas of potential UK leverage. First, the Global Europe Centre said the EU27 would have to “plug” the gap for missions and operations, should no agreement be reached with the UK.380 Mr Lapsley told us that the EU27 “care about our money”, and “the scale of our financial contribution” would be part of the negotiations.381

195.As we noted in Chapter 2, there is a difference between how the costs of civilian and military missions and operations are financed. The departure of the UK would result in an approximately 15% shortfall in the current budget for civilian missions (financed through the EU’s budget for CFSP).382 For military missions and operations, however, common costs account for just 10–15% of overall costs, and the UK’s departure would result in a shortfall of around 17% of the common costs—just 2–3% of the total cost. Dr Duke saw this as a limitation on the UK’s leverage.383

196.Second, Mr Ahern, of the FCO, noted that the UK’s military capabilities account for a fifth of the forces available to the current EU28, and the EU27 would wish to maintain access to this resource.384 Dr Wright agreed that there would be appetite from the EU27, “simply because of what we bring to the table”.385 Brigadier General Aherne said that the “knowledge, experience, ability and delivery” of UK military personnel was “invaluable”.386 Dr Chappell and Dr Barrinha said that although there was no precedent for a non-Member State to host an Operational Headquarters, access to Northwood could be “an important asset for the UK to include in the context of the withdrawal negotiations”.387

197.Lord Ricketts, however, thought the EU’s “red line” on decision-making would not be overcome by assertions that the UK is “a major military power”: “I do not think the EU will wear that”.388

198.The leverage afforded by the UK’s military strength is also undermined by the fact that the UK’s historic contribution of personnel has been slight. It has long punched below its weight, and so the value to the EU of its participation is limited.389 Mr Vimont said that the “difficulties” faced by the EU in recruitment to CSDP missions and operations—discussed in Chapter 2—”were there already, even with the UK being a member. I am not sure that the UK no longer being present will make much difference.”390 Nevertheless, he acknowledged that, after Brexit, the EU would “not have the possibility of looking for UK headquarters if we want to”.391 The Global Europe Centre, meanwhile, noted that, as the UK’s personnel contribution is “relatively low”, adapting to the UK’s departure “would not appear to be overly burdensome”.392

199.Third, Mr Vimont said the UK had “been sharing intelligence with its European counterparts”, which had “been very helpful”. This would no longer be available to the EU “to prepare our political assessments”.393 The UK’s “strong assets in maritime surveillance, state-of-the-art technologies and so forth” meant that there was “real eagerness on the EU27 side to find a way of keeping close links with Britain”.394

Options for UK participation in CSDP missions and operations after Brexit

200.The Global Europe Centre said that “replicating the UK’s current arrangements with the CSDP post-Brexit presents significant obstacles”.395 As we set out in Chapter 3, the UK’s role in CSDP missions to date has been principally the provision of strategic guidance and advice. Dr Duke said it would “be unable to exercise this role as a non-member of the EU”.396

201.The Government is yet to set out how it would wish to translate its aspirations for CSDP co-operation—as expressed in its Future partnership paper—into an operational framework. Mr Lapsley told us: “I do not think we are yet at the stage where we want to start articulating in detail exactly what would meet the kind of objective that the Government set out in that paper.”397

202.Mr Lapsley said that it was “quite difficult for us at the moment to say with any great, definitive confidence” of the EU27, “‘Yes, they’re going to be up for this or that’.” He had picked up “wide interest in the idea that it would be good to be able to carry on working with the UK on CSDP missions”. No Member State had said “absolutely not” to the UK’s proposals in the Future partnership paper, but “I would be misleading the Committee if I said anyone was promising us that we could look at those things”.398 He acknowledged the EU’s concern for “the integrity and manageability of its own processes”. The Government “just [did] not know the answer” to what “kinds of parameters that the EU is prepared to work within” on CSDP missions and operations.399

203.We note that on 24 January 2018, the European Commission Task Force for the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom under Article 50 TEU produced a document entitled ‘Internal EU27 preparatory discussions on the framework for the future relationship: Security, Defence and Foreign Policy’.400 The section on EU CSDP missions and operations is reproduced in Box 8.

Box 8: Extract from the European Commission’s ‘Internal EU27 preparatory discussions on the framework for the future relationship: Security, Defence and Foreign Policy’


Brexit impact

  • Third countries do not provide Operation Headquarters for CSDP operations/missions;
  • Third countries cannot be lead-nation or have the post of the Operation Commander or other high level positions in operations/missions.

Immediate implications for the UK

  • Need to transfer the Operation Headquarters of Operation Atalanta currently provided by the UK (Northwood);
  • Need to transfer the responsibility of the Operational Command of Althea (currently DSACEUR);
  • Need to adjust the EU Battlegroup roster of 2nd Semester 2019 (currently UK as framework nation). 401

EU Interest

  • Continued ability to plan and conduct CSDP missions and operation autonomously;
  • Not disrupt EU’s relationships with third countries.

Future partnership


  • A Framework Participation Agreement (FPA) based on the model approved by the Council in 2008; or
  • Ad hoc agreements; or
  • Developing a new and more ambitious framework applicable for third countries?

[Emphasis in the original]

Source: European Commission, Internal EU27 preparatory discussions on the framework for the future relationship: Security, Defence and Foreign Policy (24 January 2018): [accessed 30 April 2018]

204.On 23 March, the European Council (EU27) adopted the ‘European Council (Art. 50) (23 March 2018)-Guidelines’, which stated:

“In view of our shared values and common challenges, there should be a strong EU-UK cooperation in the fields of foreign, security and defence policy. A future partnership should respect the autonomy of the Union’s decision-making, taking into account that the UK will be a third country, and foresee appropriate dialogue, consultation, coordination, exchange of information, and cooperation mechanisms. As a pre-requisite for the exchange of information in the framework of such cooperation a Security of Information Agreement would have to be put in place.”402

205.We note that both documents are non-binding, and were produced in advance of the UK-EU27 negotiations on the issue of foreign and defence co-operation after Brexit.

Possible formal frameworks for UK participation

The third country model

206.We first considered the third country model. Our witnesses were not convinced that the existing arrangements (as set out in Chapter 4) would be acceptable to the UK.403 Dr Jacobs explained that “A relationship that is just another Norway … filling positions where there is no involvement in planning, and no strategic or management positions are possible—will potentially die out quite quickly”.404 Mr Vimont was of the same view: the UK was “not a partner of the same nature as Georgia, or even Turkey, which at the moment are some of the third country partners we have on CSDP”.405 Third party status would be “unlikely to satisfy Britain’s interests and strategic ambitions”;406 “being able to participate but not being able to shape the missions in which you are participating” was “not a great outcome”. Relying on the Committee of Contributors was “far from ideal when it comes to Britain post Brexit”.407

207.This was also the view of the Government: Mr Lapsley said that “the existing way in which the European Union handles third countries would not allow us … reasonable input”. The EU would “be conscious of protecting the integrity of its own autonomy in political and legal decision-making”. The question, therefore, was what models could be developed “that would allow a third country … to contribute to an operation and to have a reasonable and proportionate degree of influence over what that operation was doing”.408

208.Some witnesses raised the potential of comprehensively reforming the third country model. There was, said the Global Europe Centre, an “opportunity for a rethink of the structure of FPAs so that it integrates partner countries at every stage of the planning and implementation of CSDP missions”.409 We note that the European Commission’s internal document, quoted in Box 8, included the option of “Developing a new and more ambitious framework applicable for third countries?”410

A bespoke, UK-specific, arrangement

209.An alternative approach would be for the EU to create a bespoke arrangement for the UK, as a former Member State. Mr Vimont said that “Britain would want more” than current third country arrangements, which meant that “we will have to reinvent totally new types of arrangements”. He was confident that “it can be done”.411

210.The first UK-specific option, proposed by the Global Europe Centre, was “a ‘reverse Denmark’ … outside the EU but inside the CSDP”. This could involve the UK continuing all “existing commitments to current CSDP military and civilian operations”, and participation on “equal terms” for future missions and operations. It would include “full UK participation in all relevant CSDP decision-making structures” and “involvement in the definition of CSDP missions, their mandate and political command and control arrangements”.412

211.The Global Europe Centre itself concluded that there was “no indication at the present time that the EU27 are considering this as a post-Brexit option”.413 We note that it would be problematic in the context of the institutional design of the CSDP (as set out in Chapter 2),414 and the Government has also given no indication that this is an option it is considering.

212.Dr Duke could not foresee a role for the UK in CSDP decision-making after Brexit, however this were to be structured: “Any future role will … be that of a facilitator, rather than a leader.”415 Dr Ejdus too thought a decision-making role for the UK was “an option that the EU will probably not be happy about”.416 Dr Chappell and Dr Barrinha therefore thought the UK would be outside the “the nitty-gritty politics of CSDP decision-making”.417 Lord Ricketts also considered that the EU would “always draw a line at EU autonomy … If we are not in the EU, we will not be part of the decision-making”,418 a point echoed by Mr Vimont.419

213.A second possible UK-specific option was to negotiate “some sort of a privileged advisory or consultative role in the EU institutions, but no decision-making power”. The UK “would participate in the planning of the missions in the PSC”, but would not have a veto.420 Dr Chappell and Dr Barrinha said that the UK would be likely to seek observer status at the PSC, with speaking rights: “Access to the PSC” was “critically important”. The UK might contribute “technical know-how and strategic guidance when requested, and/or when its key interests were at stake”.421 Professor Menon said the UK “should play to be as present in as many of the rooms as possible post Brexit”.422 The best outcome would be:

“observer status within the European External Action Service or some form of systemic, institutionalised information-sharing that allows us … long before we are thinking of putting boots on the ground, to think about broader foreign policy priorities and to think about missions in the context of those priorities”.423

214.In this regard, Mr Lapsley said the UK could draw, as “sources of inspiration”, on two examples—the experience of Finland and Sweden in engaging with NATO, and how the US engages with the EU. He said that “elements of both” would be valuable in the EU-UK relationship after Brexit, “if one wanted it to be genuinely load-bearing in terms of what we could do together operationally”.424

215.Mr Lapsley said that Finland and Sweden, non-NATO countries, had “become very close partners in NATO and have been contributing to NATO operations”. They made “a broader intellectual and political contribution”, and were “in some ways … more active than some allies within NATO”. They were “regular participants” in North Atlantic Council425 meetings, and while they did not “have a formal decision-making role … they are often there, contributing to debate”. He added that they had “staff officers and secondees at all levels”, were “able to exchange information with NATO, including confidential information”, and took part in exercises.426

216.Professor Menon was not convinced by the comparison: there were “real contextual differences with the Scandinavian situation in relation to NATO”, not least that CSDP missions and operations are not a response to a “clear and present threat to … national security”, making it “a lot harder to act decisively and quickly”. He did not think the UK would “necessarily find it as smooth in arriving at a situation where we work together very closely”.427

217.Mr Lapsley also drew an analogy with the UK-US relationship. The UK had “a historically close military and political relationship with the US”, and while the US was “completely autonomous politically”, there was “a culture of co-operation and sharing of information”, and legal mechanisms allowing the secondment of staff and the sharing of sensitive information. This gave the UK “a reasonable degree of insight into American thinking quite early on”.428

218.He clarified that in applying this model to the EU, “I would not expect us to be anywhere near” the level of investment of UK personnel in the US—800 to 900 secondees. He said the UK “would have to reach judgments on what scale of investment in a structural presence in Brussels was needed”. There was “perhaps a difference between what you are prepared to invest in permanent structures—for example, having secondees in the European Union military staff … and putting people into a particular mission”. If the UK were to have a “mission-by-mission or operation-by-operation” approach, then it could “scale it according to the level of interest”.429

219.Dr Ejdus thought that consultation without a decision-making role was the “most realistic framework”.430 Dr Duke, however, said UK proposals of a “privileged association … suggest a lack of familiarity with how the EU actually works and, it is tempting to suggest, how the UK is perceived in various Brussels quarters”.431 SaferGlobe too saw “little or no room for special arrangements for the UK”.432 Mr Vimont explained that the EU would not wish to create a precedent:

“If we create a special status for the UK, others will say, ‘Why the UK and not us?’ Of course, we could say that it is because the UK is a former member and we need to deal with it in a different way from others, but we all know how diplomacy goes. That is not an argument that will go down easily with the United States, for instance.”433

220.He thought that if the UK put pressure on the EU27 to allow it “a seat at the table during all the decision-making processes, be it the PSC or the different departments”, this would result in “a lot of resistance on the part of the Europeans”.434 Professor Menon acknowledged that the EU was reluctant to give the UK such a “special status”. He considered this view particularly “damaging” in the area of CSDP.435

221.Mr Vimont added that it was not just the PSC that mattered: “The most sensitive operations are usually, one way or another, discussed and decided at the level of the European Council itself.” This raised the question of whether, post-Brexit, the Prime Minister “should be allowed from time to time inside the European Council to discuss such matters”. It was “not easy to find the right answer because of the political considerations”.436

222.A third UK-specific option was suggested by Lord Ricketts. While he did not think the EU would go “much beyond” the standard third party model, it might “be prepared to stretch permanent and continuing consultations”, including establishing “mechanisms for us to have influence and be part of the consultative process before decisions, and obviously to participate in a Committee of Contributors”. The UK “ought to be in the thick of things in Brussels, not a member of the EU but very much involved, and therefore involved in early thinking when a crisis breaks out and the idea of an EU contribution begins to be thought about”.437

223.The “key thing” was for the UK to “show commitment to contributing and being part of missions and operations. If we do that, there will be all sorts of ad hoc possibilities for continuing regular consultations in Brussels.” The UK should be doing “more than just sitting outside the room waiting to be asked, but of course in a different position from Member States”.438

224.There would be “a distinct link” between the UK’s contribution and the extent of “significant consultative access” offered, and the UK should therefore consider increasing its contributions from their current level. Nonetheless, the UK would be “outside the room for decisions” and not “part of the core of the concept”.439

225.Finally, an option for crisis management co-operation outside the structures of the EU was proposed by Mr Vimont. The UK could focus on “informal agreements” with individual European states. This would be a “more convenient way of building up the kind of special partnership the UK is looking for”. It would provide “much more room for manoeuvre, because you do not have the formality of the treaty and all the institutional framework”. For example, President Macron of France has proposed a new European Intervention Initiative (EII), outside the EU,440 which the UK supports.441 This “defence cooperation framework” aims to “improve operational planning and coordination of military deployments among European partners with meaningful capabilities”.442 Mr Vimont also referred to Letters of Intent on defence-industrial co-operation that had in the past been agreed between EU Member States on a bilateral basis.443

226.Bilateral co-operation on defence was in any case a trend, said Mr Vimont, for example co-operation between Germany and the Netherlands, and Italy and France.444 Dr Duke too noted that the UK had developed “bilateral security agreements and commitments” with Poland and France, and was planning an agreement with Germany.445 Mr Vimont and Lord Ricketts highlighted the opportunity for strengthened relations with France, in lieu of CSDP co-operation, building on the Lancaster House Treaties,446 while Professor Menon noted that the eastern members of the EU also have a strong willingness to work with the UK on defence.447

227.Dr Duke was less positive: such “bilateralism (or minilateralism)” was “unlikely to be a better, or even cheaper, alternative” to a post-Brexit arrangement on CSDP between the UK and the EU.448

Informal influence as a non-Member State

228.Whatever the outcome of the negotiations, Dr Duke thought that the UK’s “diplomatic weight and backing” would “continue to count” with the EU27 on foreign policy and defence.449 Lord Ricketts said that the extent of the UK’s ongoing influence would depend on what the Government’s policy of ‘Global Britain’ meant in practice.450 We note that this is currently the subject of an inquiry by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee.451

229.Lord Ricketts believed that it was “realistic to expect to be able to have some influence on the way EU thinking develops in a crisis, if we are prepared to put in the work”—namely, “old-fashioned diplomacy and military diplomacy”.452 The UK would need “very good people in Brussels”, and to offer the EU27 “intelligence, diplomatic information, political will and, potentially, military contributions”.453 Dr Duke agreed that the UK would need to “invest in staff and financial resources in Brussels”, and perhaps also in EU27 capitals.454 Lord Ricketts concluded: “I think we will be listened to because we are respected.”455

230.Mr Vimont took a similar view, noting, for instance, that the EEAS engaged regularly with the US beyond individual missions: “At PSC level, we have regular meetings with our American partners. Political directors from the United States come in and out; they have formal and informal meetings.” Therefore, “it should not be too difficult to set up something of the same kind for the UK, all the more so as we had natural co-operation when the UK was a European Union member.”456 However, he repeated that such informal arrangements would not extend to decision-making or policy formation:

“If you are not at the table it is much more difficult to understand what is going on inside and how people react to some ideas, why they come out at the end with such and such a decision and have not done what seems obvious. If you are not in the room, you miss it all.”457

231.We note that this same view was given to us in evidence in July 2017 by former High Representative the Rt Hon Baroness Ashton of Upholland, who told us that the EU had a “mechanistic but important political way of operating that requires you to be in the room in order to be able to participate.”458

232.Dr Wright also said that “agenda-shaping” would be the most challenging: “It is hard enough to do that when you are in the room and interacting with your partners, but if you are outside the room, that is when it becomes very complex.”459

Negotiations on CSDP

Factors affecting CSDP negotiations

233.Dr Jacobs noted that CSDP was “an intergovernmental policy domain”, which made the options for future co-operation “a lot more flexible”. She continued: “If we were talking about something that falls under the Commission, we are bound by legislation and Regulations, and it is very difficult to say, ‘We want this but not that’.” On CSDP, on the other hand, this was “possible”.460 Professor Menon too thought CSDP “relatively straightforward in many ways” in comparison to “virtually any other area of Brexit”.461

234.While it was “virtually impossible to know what the EU might offer Britain in terms of a partnership”, Professor Menon thought the EU27 “might be more flexible when it comes to defence than other sectors, because our contribution is far clearer”, and, given the intergovernmental nature of CSDP, “there is no EU law”.462 Dr Wright said there was a “tension between legal and formal structures versus pragmatism”,463 but thought there was “quite a lot of flexibility”: the EU was “very good at producing fudge”.464 Dr Jacobs too thought “all options” remained in play.465 Professor Menon hoped “that we could arrive at a solution post Brexit that works for both sides far more easily than is going to be the case in many other sectors”.466

235.Professor Menon envisaged different possible outcomes, depending on who was the negotiator on defence and security—at present, how these negotiations would be structured was “spectacularly unclear”. If the UK could agree a treaty with the Member States, perhaps with the High Representative as the negotiator, this might have a different outcome to an “omnibus” negotiation covering “trade and everything … in the same document”, negotiated by the Commissioner for Trade or the EU’s Chief Negotiator.467

236.Dr Duke, on the other hand, was not confident that CSDP could be separated from the broader negotiations: he said the UK and EU27’s “ability, or inability, to reach agreement in sensitive sectors such as aerospace will, in turn, influence the mood music when it comes to any discussions on CSDP”.468 Mr Lapsley also thought that there would “be an interaction between this part of the negotiation and the wider negotiation”.469

The approach to negotiations

237.Professor Menon was concerned that the topic of defence and security was not receiving “the level of attention that it merits”. There was a danger that defence and security negotiations would be “done at the eleventh hour because someone thinks, ‘Oh my god, we had better put a chapter in on that’”.470

238.Dr Wright said that the UK should take the initiative, in advance of these negotiations. The UK should apply “a bit of pragmatism in thinking about how we can add value, how we can engage with our partners and what we can get out of it”, and try to secure a strategic role.471 He and Professor Menon agreed that this should include structured engagement with the EEAS: “grasping the opportunity now” was preferable to “reacting later on” to EU proposals.472

239.Lord Ricketts agreed that it was now “time to be putting meat on the bones of what the Prime Minister said in her Munich speech … about how we follow up the general idea of deep and structured co-operation”. He hoped that the reason the issue had not been a major feature of the negotiations so far was “because both sides assume that the answer is pretty straightforward”.473

240.Dr Duke made a suggestion on tone: the UK should consider adopting “a more modest approach that recognises that the UK is the demandeur in these negotiations”.474

Transitional arrangements

241.At the time of writing, the UK and the EU have agreed in principle a transitional period, from 29 March 2019 until 31 December 2020.475 Dr Wright thought “the only course of action” for CSDP missions and operations in which the UK is already engaged would be “to follow that through to the end during the transition period”. The UK could not “suddenly pull out and say, ‘We are not part of this anymore’” without undermining its reputation and credibility.476

242.The Global Europe Centre said that in the transitional period, “UK and EU interests may be best served by continuity and with the UK continuing its participation in the existing CSDP missions and the continued provision of an OHQ for the CSDP”. This implied that the UK “would be closely associated with EU decision-making on current CSDP missions in which it continues to be a participant”.477 General Sir Adrian Bradshaw also could “see no particular problems in the transition process”. The UK “should continue to contribute, with a policy that is as it is today, as far as that is possible”.478

243.Professor Menon agreed that CSDP “should” be included in transitional arrangements, but “whether it can be included on current terms, I very much doubt”.479 Mr Vimont was concerned that there was only a “very short period” of time available to “invent” transitional arrangements. It would “not be easy” to achieve, “because to some extent everybody is playing tactics in the whole of the Brexit negotiations”.480

244.Lord Ricketts, on the other hand, dismissed the value of a transitional period for CSDP co-operation: rather than introduce a new arrangement for a limited period, “We should jump straight from the full member rights we have now to the new situation, which I hope will be extensive access and capacity for input … sooner rather than later.” There should be a “seamless transition” from membership to the new relationship, because “if a further crisis blew up, and there was an issue about the role the EU should play, I think Britain would want to be part of whatever consultations were going on”.481

245.Dr Wright highlighted the potential uncertainty over missions and operations which might be developed during the transitional period.482 Mr Vimont also said that, were a new mission or operation to be developed after 29 March 2019, the UK should make its interest known to the EU27 “very early on”, noting that “the decision-making process would be with the EU27 on one side, and there would be discussion and contact with the UK on the other side, but outside the Union treaty and the CSDP”.483 The Global Europe Centre said missions and operations launched after 29 March 2019 presented “the opportunity for a precedent to be set for the nature of EU-UK co-operation” post-transition.484

246.The Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community was published on 19 March, after we had finished taking evidence. It included content on CSDP during the transitional period. This text was highlighted in green, meaning that it was “agreed at negotiators’ level”, and would “only be subject to technical legal revisions in the coming weeks.”485

247.Regarding CSDP missions and operations, Article 124 sets out that the EU’s position on possible third country participation, as discussed in Box 8 earlier in this chapter, extends to the transition period:

“During the transition period, the United Kingdom shall not provide commanders of civilian operations, heads of mission, operation commanders or force commanders for missions or operations conducted under Articles 42, 43 and 44 TEU, nor shall it provide the operational headquarters for such missions or operations or serve as framework nation for Union battlegroups. During the transition period, the United Kingdom shall not provide the head of any operational actions under Article 28 TEU.”486

248.Additionally, “Until 31 December 2020, the United Kingdom shall contribute to … the costs of Common Security and Defence Policy operations, on the basis of the same contribution key as before the date of entry into force of this Agreement.”487

249.These provisions, however, will only apply in the absence of a subsequent agreement between the UK and the EU. Article 122 of the Draft Agreement states:

“Should the Union and the United Kingdom reach an agreement governing their future relationship in the area of the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Common Security and Defence Policy which becomes applicable during the transition period, Chapter 2 of Title V of the TEU and the acts adopted on the basis of those provisions shall cease to apply to the United Kingdom from the date of application of that agreement.”488

250.The text seems to imply that discussions on foreign and defence policy are yet to start, and indeed we are not aware of any detailed UK-EU discussions to date on Common Foreign and Security Policy and CSDP co-operation after Brexit. On 26 October 2017, in evidence to this Committee, Sir Alan Duncan told us: “We cannot point to a particular design plan” for foreign policy co-operation during the transitional period. He was sure that foreign policy would “figure in the transition plan”, but there was “no specific detail that I can honestly put before you at the moment”. He had not been “privy to” any “detailed discussions” on this matter.489 We note that Article 122 of the Draft Agreement, quoted above, suggests that separate arrangements may be developed in this area.

Conclusions and recommendations

251.The UK’s foreign policy priorities are unlikely to change significantly upon leaving the EU, in which case the UK will continue to derive value from participation in current CSDP missions and operations. In particular, the UK will continue to have interests in the Western Balkans (Operation Althea and EULEX Kosovo), and in the Horn of Africa (particularly Operation Atalanta).

252.The UK will require a higher level of political control to participate in military operations—such as Operation Atalanta—where service personnel undertake executive operations than to participate in civilian or military missions, where tasks relate to training and capacity building.

253.The UK’s role in CSDP missions and operations has been more a ‘manager’ than a ‘player’. It is unlikely that the EU27 will be willing to allow the UK—as a non-Member State—a decision-making role on CSDP missions and operations.

254.The existing model for third country involvement in CSDP missions and operations would not give the UK the input and influence that it currently enjoys as a Member State.

255.The negotiations on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU have not yet focused on foreign policy and defence. This area of EU co-operation is largely intergovernmental, which makes it different to areas embedded within the acquis.

256.It is also not yet clear how negotiations on foreign policy and defence co-operation will be structured, by whom they will be conducted, or how far they will be separated from the negotiations on future trade and other issues.

257.In its future partnership paper on foreign policy, defence and development the Government set out broad, high-level aspirations for co-operation with the EU on CSDP missions and operations. These included a role in “mandate development” and “detailed operational planning”. This goes well beyond the existing third country model offered by the EU. The prospects for changes to this model are uncertain.

258.We are concerned that the Government has yet to explain how its high-level aspirations could be put into practice. We strongly urge that the FCO develop and transmit to the EU detailed proposals for future co-operation in the area of foreign policy and defence. It should do this before the June 2018 European Council meeting, to give the EU an opportunity to respond before any political declaration on future UK-EU relations is finalised.

259.The UK’s defence capabilities are significant, and well-respected by the EU27. These capabilities do not, however, necessarily translate into leverage for the UK, given that most CSDP missions and operations are at the lower end of the crisis management spectrum, with a focus on training and capacity building.

260.The fallback position in the Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community suggests a much more limited role for the UK than that envisaged by the Government. It excludes the possibility of the UK maintaining the Operational Headquarters of Operation Atalanta, or Operation Command of Operation Althea via the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe. We note that these issues are subject to negotiation.

261.The UK must decide whether to use the leverage afforded by its significant military capabilities to negotiate modifications to the model under which it can contribute to CSDP missions and operations after Brexit.

262.CSDP missions and operations are a subset of wider foreign policy and engagement on security and defence with the EU. The UK should seek to negotiate observer status in the EU’s planning and decision-making bodies, such as the Political and Security Committee, after Brexit.

263.It is possible to influence the EU from the outside, as shown by the example of the United States. To do so, the UK will have to invest significant resources in Brussels and in Member States’ capitals, to maintain influence from outside the structures of the EU.

346 Written evidence from Dr Simon Duke (BSD0001)

347 Ibid.

348 Ibid.

350 Written evidence from Dr Simon Duke (BSD0001)

351 Of the EU’s current CSDP missions and operations, six are military, of which three are training missions (EUTM Somalia, EUTM Mali and EUTM RCA), and three have an executive mandate (Operation Sophia, Operation Atalanta and Operation Althea).

352 10 (Angus Lapsley)

354 Written evidence from Dr Simon Duke (BSD0001)

355 Written evidence from SaferGlobe (BSD0007)

356 We concluded that there was a “fundamental” difference in the nature of the two organisations, leading to a “fundamental difference in culture and attitude” between them. European Union Committee, Europe in the world: Towards a more effective EU foreign and security strategy (8th Report, Session 2015–16, HL Paper 97)

358 Q 35 (General Sir Adrian Bradshaw). SaferGlobe said that a lack of UK co-operation in CSDP missions and operations would have an impact on UK influence in NATO. Written evidence from SaferGlobe (BSD0007)

359 Q 37 (General Sir Adrian Bradshaw). In 2017, there was speculation in the media that the UK might lose the role of DSACEUR as a result of Brexit. The Ministry of Defence denied these reports. George Allison, ‘MoD confirm UK will retain top NATO role after press speculation’, UK Defence Journal (12 June 2017): [accessed 30 April 2018]

364 Written evidence from Dr Kseniya Oksamytna (BSD0009)

365 Written evidence from Dr Laura Chappell and Dr André Barrinha (BSD0004)

367 Q 94 (Pierre Vimont). See also Q 58 (Major General Charlie Stickland).

369 Q 81. See also Q 93 (Pierre Vimont).

370 Written evidence from Sir Stephen O’Brien (BSD0003)

371 Written evidence from Agora Think Tank (BSD0006)

372 Written evidence from Dr Simon Duke (BSD0001)

373 HM Government, Foreign policy, defence and development—a future partnership paper (12 September 2017): [accessed 30 April 2018]

374 Ibid., p 1

375 Ibid., p 19

376 Ibid.

377 Ibid., p 22

378 Written evidence from Dr Simon Duke (BSD0001)

380 Written evidence from the Global Europe Centre (BSD0005)

382 We note that the UK has agreed to continue to contribute to the EU Budget during the transitional period (29 March 2019–31 December 2020), and so this shortfall would not arise until after that period.

383 Written evidence from Dr Simon Duke (BSD0001)

386 Written evidence from Brigadier General Aherne (BSD0011)

387 Written evidence from Dr Laura Chappell and Dr André Barrinha (BSD0004)

389 Written evidence from Dr Simon Duke (BSD0001) See Chapter 2.

391 Q 94 (Pierre Vimont)

392 Written evidence from the Global Europe Centre (BSD0005)

393 QQ91, 94

395 Written evidence from the Global Europe Centre (BSD0005)

396 Written evidence from Dr Simon Duke (BSD0001)

399 Q 9 (Angus Lapsley)

400 European Commission, Internal EU27 preparatory discussions on the framework for the future relationship: “Security, Defence and Foreign Policy” (24 January 2018): [accessed 30 April 2018]

401 EU Battlegroups are rapid-reaction forces of around 1,500 troops. The UK was due to act as the framework nation for the EU Battlegroup for the second half of 2019. In March, the Government withdrew from this commitment, in light of the UK’s exit from the EU on 29 March 2019. ‘Britain withdraws offer to lead EU military force after Brexit’, Reuters (20 March 2018): [accessed 30 April 2018]

402 Council of the European Union, European Council (Art. 50) (23 March 2018)—Guidelines (23 March 2018): [accessed 30 April 2018]

403 Q 71 (Dr Filip Ejdus and Dr An Jacobs)

406 Written evidence from Dr Laura Chappell and Dr André Barrinha (BSD0004)

407 Q 14 (Professor Anand Menon)

409 Written evidence from the Global Europe Centre (BSD0005)

410 European Commission, Internal EU27 discussions on the framework for the future relationship “Security, Defence and Foreign Policy” (23 January 2018): [accessed 30 April 2018]

412 Written evidence from the Global Europe Centre (BSD0005)

413 Ibid.

414 Q 71 (Dr Filip Ejdus)

415 Written evidence from Dr Simon Duke (BSD0001)

417 Written evidence from Dr Laura Chappell and Dr André Barrinha (BSD0004)

420 Q 71 (Dr Filip Ejdus). We also discussed the possibility of observer status in EU bodies such as the PSC in the context of foreign policy in our report Brexit: sanctions policy. European Union Committee, Brexit: sanctions policy (8th Report, Session 2017–19, HL Paper 50)

421 Written evidence from Dr Laura Chappell and Dr André Barrinha (BSD0004)

425 The principal political decision-making body of NATO.

426 Q 9 (Angus Lapsley)

429 Q 10 (Angus Lapsley)

431 Written evidence from Dr Simon Duke (BSD0001)

432 Written evidence from SaferGlobe (BSD0007)

434 Q 91 (Pierre Vimont)

437 Q 76 (Lord Ricketts)

438 Ibid.

439 Ibid.

441 Ministry of Defence, Press Release: UK and France commit to new defence cooperation (18 January 2018): [accessed 30 April 2018]

442 Ministry of Defence, Press Release: UK and France commit to new defence cooperation (18 January 2018): [accessed 30 April 2018]. In April 2018, the French Ministry of Defence announced plans to launch a deployable European crisis force, outside EU structures, in June 2018. John Irish and Andrea Shalal, ‘France plots new European military crisis force outside EU’, Reuters (4 April 2018): [accessed 30 April 2018]

445 Written evidence from Dr Simon Duke (BSD0001)

446 Q 96 and Q 87. On 2 November 2010, the UK and France signed a declaration at Lancaster House, aiming to build a long-term partnership in defence and security and nuclear co-operation. Ministry of Defence, ‘UK-French defence cooperation reaffirmed on fifth anniversary of Lancaster House Agreement’: [accessed 20 April 2018]. Dr Wright noted that France’s existing appetite for UK-French bilateral defence co-operation itself in part stems from France’s “growing scepticism about the value of CSDP”. Q 20 Mr Vimont noted that, like the UK, France does not contribute a large number of personnel to CSDP missions. Q 93

448 Written evidence from Dr Simon Duke (BSD0001)

449 Ibid.

453 Q 77 (Lord Ricketts)

454 Written evidence from Dr Simon Duke (BSD0001)

457 Q 92 (Pierre Vimont)

458 Oral evidence taken on 6 July 2017 (Session 2017–19), Q 11. We also reflected on this point in the context of sanctions policy in our report Brexit: sanctions policy. European Union Committee, Brexit: sanctions policy (8th Report, Session 2017–19, HL Paper 50)

462 Q 14. Defence co-operation would also include EU defence-industrial projects such as the European Defence Fund, which were not part of this inquiry.

468 Written evidence from Dr Simon Duke (BSD0001)

472 Ibid.

474 Written evidence from Dr Simon Duke (BSD0001)

475 See Article 121 of the European Commission and HM Government, Draft Agreement on the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community (19 March 2018): [accessed 30 April 2018]

477 Written evidence from the Global Europe Centre (BSD0005)

484 Written evidence from the Global Europe Centre (BSD0005)

485 European Commission and HM Government, Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community (Article 122), (19 March 2018): [accessed 30 April 2018]. Title V of the TEU establishes “General provisions on the union’s external action and specific provisions on the Common Foreign and Security Policy”. Chapter 2 sets out “Specific provisions on the Common Foreign and Security Policy. Section 2 sets out “Provisions on the Common Security and Defence Policy” Consolidated version of the Treaty on European Union (Article 122), OJ C 326 (26 October 2012)

486 European Commission and HM Government, Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community (Article 150), (19 March 2018): [accessed 30 April 2018]

487 Ibid.

488 European Commission and HM Government, Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community (Article 122), (19 March 2018): [accessed 30 April 2018]. Title V of the TEU establishes “General provisions on the union’s external action and specific provisions on the Common Foreign and Security Policy”. Chapter 2 sets out “Specific provisions on the Common Foreign and Security Policy. Section 2 sets out “Provisions on the Common Security and Defence Policy” Consolidated version of the Treaty on European Union (Article 122), OJ C 326 (26 October 2012)

489 Oral evidence taken on 26 October 2017 (Session 2017–19), Q 77

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