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Britain and the Signing of the 2010 Lancaster House Treaties with France: Turning its Back on the EU but Strengthening Defence Cooperation in Europe.

Thibaud HARROIS

In November 2010, France and Britain signed two defence treaties: on defence and security, and on nuclear cooperation. This paper seeks to show that these treaties came as a consequence of the evolution of French and British attitudes towards the role of the USA and NATO in European defence, which led the "Euro-Atlantic security dilemma" close to being solved. Because of the size of their defence budgets, their armed forces, and defence industry, France and the UK were leading partners in the creation of the CSDP. However, the two countries long maintained diverging aims: while France ambitioned to strengthen the military power of the EU, successive British leaders made it clear that they would never allow NATO to be replaced as the main guarantor of peace and security in Europe. Yet, after France acknowledged NATO's primary role in European defence and returned to its military command, Britain agreed to the strengthening of the cooperation between two European nations without directly involving the USA. By adopting a constructivist/interpretivist approach, this paper will study the strategic, political and economic reasons that led the British government to sign the 2010 Treaties, as well as the consequences of these agreements for the EU. While the UK is set to leave the Union, the paper will show Europe will continue to benefit from bilateral cooperation between its two most important military powers.



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