President Macron Visit and UK and French Defense


2018-01-21 The new President of France visited the UK on January 18, 2018 to discuss a range of issues with the Prime Minister of Britain.

One of these issues was defense cooperation.

According to an article published on the UK Ministry of Defence website, the two leaders agreed to a range of measure to strengthen defense cooperation.

The Defence Secretary has 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.

 The two countries are the only European powers with the ability and political will to deploy and sustain significant military force. A number of initiatives have been announced at the Summit to strengthen UK-France cooperation, building on the 2010 Lancaster House Treaties.

The measures agreed between the UK and France today will include:

Pictured: Prime Minster Teresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron inspects the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards as they carry out a guard of honour for the UK/France summit held at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Photographer: Cpl Timothy Jones Crown Copyright 2018

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

The UK will deploy RAF Chinook helicopters 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 UK already supports the UN mission in Mali, along with military support to UN missions in South Sudan, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. British military personnel are also training the Nigerian armed forces in countering the threat from Boko Haram.

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

Agreement between the UK and France 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.

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.

The countries’ strong defence ties were symbolised at the summit by a flypast from a Typhoon and a Rafale jet and French and British cadets joining attendees to witness the Guard of Honour.

The Macron visit highlights a number of key questions facing France and the UK, as well as European defense as a whole.

What kind of post-Brexit deal can be made to ensure that European defense industrial working relationships and capabilities remain intact?

Clearly, Thales and MBDA and Airbus to some extent rely heavily on the flow of technology, R and D and manufacturing capabilities between France and Britain.

How to best ensure this dynamic to continue?

And any such post-Brexit relationship will clearly have an impact on US defense industrial market access as well, because of how important Britain has been to US presence in terms of military industry in Europe.

A second consideration is upon the French military itself.

The UK is in the throes of a fundamental defense transformation which is most synergistic with the Northern European allies, not France.

RAF Strategy

How best to shape a working relationship between the two militaries which enhances French transformation as well?

A third consideration is the challenge of working with Germany from the standpoint of France. As key NATO nations along with the US and core Asian allies gear up to be able to fight and prevail in the high end fight, there is very little evidence that Germany is headed in this direction.

Will France provide a leaven of change for Germany or will Germany reshape France into a military force for primarily diplomatic purposes or the low end fight?

In short, much is at stake in the UK-French military working relationship for Europe, for NATO and for the United States.