The Future of EU-UK Security and Defence Cooperation

DCU Brexit Institute - Working Paper N. 6 - 2019

18 Pages Posted: 14 Jun 2019 Last revised: 28 Feb 2023

See all articles by Ben Tonra

Ben Tonra

University College Dublin (UCD)

Date Written: June 1, 2019


The UK’s departure from the European Union poses many challenges, not least in the field of security and defence. This paper assesses the implications of this for both parties and tries to outline options for a new bilateral partnership. The paper opens with a reminder of the headline contribution that the UK has made and continues to make to European security and defence and its significance as an actor within the Union. It goes on to suggest that Brexit is a lose-lose scenario for both partners, notwithstanding a shared set of security threats and an overall common approach to meeting them. The paper outlines the significant advances in the development of CSDP since the Brexit referendum result and the importance of the Commission’s proposal of new funding to the development of EU member state defence capacities. The paper then reviews options, which have surfaced in the EU and UK respectively to define a new bilateral partnership. The challenges to involving a third-country in EU policy development and execution are examined and the urgent need for the Union and the UK to devise a new – necessarily weaker – relationship is underlined.

Keywords: Brexit, Security, International Relations, UK, EU, CSDP

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Tonra, Ben, The Future of EU-UK Security and Defence Cooperation (June 1, 2019). DCU Brexit Institute - Working Paper N. 6 - 2019, Available at SSRN: or

Ben Tonra (Contact Author)

University College Dublin (UCD) ( email )

Belfield, Dublin 4 4

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