Safer together: The United Kingdom and the future of European security and defence

European Defence Studies

Peace, Security & Defence

Picture of Paul Taylor
Paul Taylor

Senior Fellow for Peace, Security and Defence at Friends of Europe

British and European Union negotiators have only a few months left to prevent a train wreck in European security when the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, and they’ve barely even begun discussing the challenge.

This Friends of Europe study, authored by Paul Taylor, Senior Fellow at Friends of Europe, POLITICO columnist and for many years Reuters EU Affairs editor, highlights the risks of a breakdown in practical cooperation on crime-fighting and counter-terrorism on the day after Brexit, and of serious longer-term damage to British and European defence industries. It sets out the stark policy choices British and EU leaders will have to make to optimise Britain’s defence and security role in Europe to mutual advantage despite the rupture of Brexit.

The study is complemented by a Friends of Europe survey of 300 security and defence stakeholders in the UK and Europe which shows that: fighting terrorism at home and abroad and cyber threats are seen as the biggest security challenges, ahead of irregular migration, risks linked to climate change and growing Russian and Chinese power; France is almost on par with the United States as the UK’s primary strategic partner; and the majority of respondents favour joint European armaments procurement over joint NATO procurement.

The study’s five chapters include:

  • Lonelier islands – The UK after Brexit
  • Thin red lines – The political constraints
  • Soldiering on – The UK armed forces
  • Collateral damage – The defence industries
  • Making the best of it – Conclusions and recommendations

The study complements four similar studies on Italy, France, Germany and Poland roles in European security and defence:

Crunch time – France and the future of European defence

Jumping over its shadow – Germany and the future of European defence

Fort Trump or bust – Poland and the future of European defence

Molto agitato – Italy and Mediterranean security

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