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The Future Of Europe's Defence Policy Post-Brexit

10/05/2017 11:59
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France's recent election is a vote of confidence in the EU. In an address to the nation on May 8, newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron said he will, "...work to mend ties between Europe and its citizens," as fears of a "Frexit" dissipate. A recent blog piece on the London School of Economics and Political Science site titled, "Brexit Has Given an Impetus to Reshape Europe's Foreign, Security, and Defense Policies," states that the EU member states despite finding it "...difficult to give up the driver's seat when it comes to strategic foreign policy decisions," do in fact see cooperation on these matters as an important issue. Dr. Benjamin Kienzle and Inez von Wietershausen have laid out a simpler version of the complex policies and scenarios Brexit may have on Europe's foreign, defense, and security implication by creating the Brexit Reader on Security and Defense.

One such piece, "What Future for Europe's Security and Defense Policy" also discusses various claims of what Brexit will mean for Europe's security and defense policies. Whereas some argue that Brexit will weaken the EU's capacity to have a comprehensive plan and force a return to the model of a 'civilian power Europe', others suspect that Brexit will force even closer cooperation with the EU member states. Sven Bishop, argues that it will call for more "flexible cooperation amongst its most willing and able member states" forcing them to no longer hide behind the U.K.

And when the other member countries will no longer be able to hide behind Britain's defiance they will have to be more bold in making it clear what they are bringing to the table and may even find it easier to form consensus. They will face new challenges but perhaps the shareholders on both sides will also be more invested. A more optimistic view is given by Christopher Hill who states that both London and Paris will be driven by their desire to be seen as leaders and will continue to play a crucial role in the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy.

Brexit may also foster competition between NATO and the EU. The UK has traditionally pushed for closer ties of Europe with NATO while other member states saw the EU as the "primary actor" providing security in Europe." The U.K. has tried to block permanment military structures in the EU, which some say points to the U.K's "negative or minimal" impact on the CSDP. But post Brexit others believe the continued cooperation of Britain, the EU, and individual members states will be crucial.

The U.K. desire to be seen as a legitimate leader in the sphere of world politics has allowed it, or perhaps even forced it, to stand its course even while in the EU. It has not been seen as an easy partner but one which makes its interests known. In such a way one can argue it can stay inside the EU and still get its way. But while outside the EU it may force other EU member states to be more accountable not just to the EU but also to its own constitutiencies in order to maintain the legitimacy of the EU and reap benefits of collaboration.

This also points many people may not be aware of the benefits of European integration because of the complexity of integration and thus steer away from integration even when it is of benefit to them.

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