U.K. Hopes Dashed Again as EU Rejects Post-Brexit Defense Plan

(Bloomberg) -- The U.K. can’t maintain full participation in the European Union’s foreign policy after Brexit, the bloc said, in the latest setback to the British government’s ambitions for the two sides’ future relationship.

In a presentation to diplomats from the EU’s 27 remaining nations on Thursday that was seen by Bloomberg, the European Commission said that while it was committed to strong EU-U.K. cooperation on foreign, security and defense issues, “a number of U.K. requests are contrary to the parameters” that leaders set for the Brexit negotiations.

It’s the latest blow to the U.K., which has had its proposals for life after Brexit repeatedly kicked back by the EU on the grounds that Britain can’t have the same level of participation as countries still in the bloc. The U.K. believes that defense and security are too important to scale back cooperation for the sake of EU rules about membership.

The Commission said U.K. participation in defense projects “should be decided on a case-by-case and exceptional basis” by EU countries and involvement should be allowed only “where it significantly participates to the fulfillment of the Union’s level of ambition.”

The EU is worried that Britain’s demands for stronger cooperation could damage the “autonomy of the EU’s decision-making” and set a precedent for other non-EU countries.

As a member, the U.K. has led the way on discussions on EU sanctions, most notably on Russia over its annexation of Crimea. According to the latest presentation, the bloc expects the U.K. to align its sanctions policy with the EU to present a united front, rather than make decisions together.

Prime Minister Theresa May has said she wants a deal on U.K-EU security cooperation to be concluded rapidly but the EU’s position falls a long way short of what she said she wants to achieve. The issue forms part of the negotiations on the future relationship that are continuing over the next few months.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.