A Summit between ‘Voisins’
French President Emmanuel Macron and British PM Theresa May met at a bilateral summit, the 35th between France and the UK mid-January with a jam-packed agenda at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
Yet another summit? Actually, the situation is quite different from the previous Franco-British summit in Amiens: new leaders, reversed power balance and a Brexit negotiation as a background even if that topic was not on the agenda.
Two years after, the key subjects are the same though: migration control, security and military co-operation. And the good news is that these three topics have seen a further commitment from both parts to work together:
- New treaty to strengthen the joint management of the countries’ shared border, with an additional £50 million in UK support;
- Meeting between the French and British intelligence agencies;
- The UK-France Combined Joint Expeditionary Force ready to deploy up to 10,000 troops quickly and effectively to face any threat by 2020.
These are important steps forward in the Franco-British relationship and a renewed message that the UK will remain anchored to the European continent. And both leaders strengthened the theme of a shared future, opening their wallet for stimulating exchanges between France and the UK for Schools, Culture, and sports.
No surprise though, the elephant in the room of this Franco-British summit was ‘Brexit’. And Theresa May looked for support from her counterpart to identify a customised solution post-Brexit. Emmanuel Macron answer was clear and in English: ‘be my guest’; a gentle tone for a strong position from the leader who is perceived as driving the EU destiny.
Brexit negotiations will be long and complex!