22 Jan 2018

UK and France strengthen defence cooperation

The Prime Minister, Theresa May and President Macron have agreed a range of measures to strengthen defence cooperation between the UK and France at a summit at Sandhurst.

The Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson joined the Prime Minister, Chancellor, Foreign Secretary and other members of the Cabinet at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst for the 2018 UK-France Summit.

A number of initiatives have been announced at the Summit to strengthen UK-France cooperation, building on the 2010 Lancaster House Treaties.

President Macron agreed to further French support to the UK-led enhanced Forward Presence battlegroup in Estonia in 2019, as part of efforts to deter Russian aggression towards NATO Allies and bolster the security of NATO’s Eastern flank.

RAF Chinook helicopters will be deployed to Mali to provide logistical support 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 measures will also see the creation of 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.

There was agreement on 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). The EII will be 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.

There was also confirmation 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.

image © Crown Copyright

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