Germany and UK pledge closer cooperation on foreign policy

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab (L) with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (R) at the G7 Foreign Ministers meeting at Lancaster House in London, Britain, 05 May 2021. [EPA-EFE/ANDY RAIN / POOL]

German and UK foreign ministers on Wednesday (30 June) pledged to cooperate more closely on foreign and security policy issues, reaffirming their commitment to the “strategic unity of Europe”.

The joint initiative comes ahead of outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to the UK on Friday (2 July), where she is set to meet UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Queen.

The joint declaration, signed by Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and British counterpart Dominic Raab, stresses both countries wish to work towards “responsible leadership on foreign policy issues in support of multilateralism and a rules-based international order.”

The overarching narrative of the initiative is that the two countries will work together as key defenders of the multilateral rules-based system.

“We affirm our commitment to the strategic unity of Europe,” the statement said, “and our joint unconditional commitment to Euro-Atlantic security.”

It also underlined that EU membership “remains a key reference point” for Germany and that Berlin supports cooperation between the EU and the UK.

German UNSC seat?

One of its main features is the UK’s backing for Germany to have a new permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council.

“We support a new permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council for the Federal Republic of Germany,” the joint statement said, adding the two countries agreed to hold an annual “strategic dialogue” on global affairs that will involve foreign ministers and political directors from both sides of the Channel.

Germany has lobbied for many years to gain a permanent seat on the Security Council, in which, following the UK’s departure from the EU, only France is a permanent member from the EU.

European security

The initiative comes after the UK government published a revamp of its foreign, trade and defence policy earlier in March, in which London had significantly shifted its focus from Europe to the Indo-Pacific region.

UK gives priority to Indo-Pacific region as part of foreign policy revamp

The UK is set to shift its focus from Europe to the Indo-Pacific region as part of a planned revamp of its foreign, trade and defence policy announced on Tuesday (16 March), which made scarce references to a future EU-UK …

Although one of the underlying reasons for publishing the review remains the UK’s recently completed departure from the EU, references to the bloc were few in the March document.

Britain’s relations with the EU have been strained by the UK’s refusal to clearly codify a post-Brexit security relationship.

Wednesday’s UK-Germany declaration stated that “NATO is the cornerstone of Euro-Atlantic security” and “remains the bedrock of our collective defence”.

“We recognise the importance of a stronger and more capable European contribution to this. We remain jointly committed to NATO-EU cooperation,” the joint declaration stated.

On Russia, besides strong condemnation of the country’s “destabilising behaviour”, the declaration supports Berlin’s wish for dialogue with Moscow, an idea that was rejected by EU leaders during their summit in Brussels last week.

“We are committed to conducting constructive dialogue with Russia through appropriate channels in order to make clear our expectations and to discuss our ideas for concrete solutions,” it stated.

[Edited by Benjamin Fox]

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