Commentators were quick to predict how Brexit would determine the UK’s position within the international community; anti-Brexit voices prophesied that Britain would see its role reduced, weakened by isolation from its European neighbours. On the other hand, little attention has been given to the effect of Brexit on the future of the European Union’s member states. However, recently, in a series of notable developments, the spotlight has been turned upon the continental bloc. In what could be seen as a reaction to the political schism of Brexit, and a cry for cohesion, Emmanuel Macron, the French President, has led calls for the creation of an EU army. It is an obvious illustration that Britain’s departure from the EU will no doubt force other member states to re-consider their own position upon the international chess-board.
In a previous episode, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Junker, called for a “fully-fledged European Defence Union”. Additionally, not long ago, 25 nations in the new EU defence pact unveiled a new series of projects that will see governments working together, including plans for the upgrade of attack helicopters, a joint EU intelligence school and additional European armoured infantry fighting vehicles. Therefore, Macron’s demands for increased collective military and security co-operation are not unfounded. Nonetheless, it was an alarming example of European hubris as the French President explicitly outlined that such a move would be in the interest of Europe to provide protection against the United States.
Anti-Americanism has been commonplace within French foreign policy; a fall out from the Suez Crisis and a lack of co-operation within, what would be today, North Vietnam. Then in 1967, Charles De Gaulle pulled out of the NATO military intelligence structure. It wasn’t until 2009, that France returned to full membership under President Sarkozy.
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) November 14, 2018
However, more recently, over the course of the armistice remembrance weekend, blows were dealt between Macron and Trump. In his familiar style, the US President, took to twitter to share his thoughts: “Emmanuel Macron suggests building its own army to protect Europe against the U.S., China and Russia. But it was Germany in World Wars One & Two – How did that work out for France? They were starting to learn German in Paris before the U.S. came along. Pay for NATO or not!” Now at odds with one another, the final threads of a US-French relationship seem to be starting to wear thin.
Britain, on the other hand, can remind itself of the value that it places in a special security relationship with the US. The continual bilateral cooperation is a reflection of the common language, ideals and democratic practices shared between the two nations. EU diplomats have argued that the political turmoil in London means that Britain is undermining Europe’s ambitious new defence pact. Indeed, UK has long opted to act as a constraint on wild European enthusiasm, preferring to show a historic appreciation for the US support that provides safety and security for the UK and the rest of Europe.