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Britain’s May wins backing for EU security pact, timing unclear

MUNICH (Reuters) – Prime Minister Theresa May made her case on Saturday for a brand new security treaty with the EU from subsequent yr, profitable help from EU and U.S. officers who agreed the problem was too vital to danger getting subsumed in broader Brexit negotiations.

In a speech to Western leaders and officers in Munich, May promised that London would proceed to guide army missions and share intelligence if Brussels agreed to a pact “effective from 2019”, the yr Britain is because of go away the bloc.

May’s authorities is utilizing a sequence of speeches to set out its imaginative and prescient for Britain exterior the European Union. But the loudest applause throughout her look got here when the occasion’s organizer, German diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger, mentioned: “Things would be so much easier if you stayed.”

But May was adamant: “We are leaving the EU and there is no question of a second referendum or going back, and I think that’s important,” she instructed the Munich Security Conference.

“The partnership that we need to create is one that offers UK and EU way to combine our efforts to greatest effect where this is in our shared interest,” May mentioned of her security plan.

Britain is likely one of the high three customers of information from European Union police company Europol. But because it leaves the EU, there’s a danger that it is going to be shut out of this cooperation, changing into extra weak to Islamist militants, officers say.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU’s chief govt, welcomed a “security alliance” with Britain, including that the problem ought to be separated from the remainder of the Brexit debate.

Britain, together with France, is Europe’s greatest army energy and leads two European Union army missions whereas sending troops to Estonia underneath a NATO flag.

With a number of points nonetheless unresolved and infighting over Brexit dividing May’s authorities simply over a yr earlier than Britain is because of go away, security is certainly one of London’s greatest bargaining chips because it seeks a brand new take care of Brussels.

Britain’s inside minister final yr instructed the EU it may “take our information with us” if it left the bloc with out a deal on security.

May emphasised she was dedicated to European security, warned in opposition to competitors between Britain and the remainder of Europe and mentioned that each side ought to do “whatever is most practical and pragmatic in ensuring our collective security.”

Juncker mentioned security shouldn’t be conflated with “other questions relating to Brexit,” additionally quashing any British hopes security treaty is perhaps a method right into a free-trade deal.

“I wouldn’t like to put security policy considerations with trade policy considerations in one hat. I understand why some would like to do that, but we don’t want to,” he mentioned.


NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg additionally welcomed shut security cooperation between Britain and the EU after Brexit, whereas Stoltenberg’s predecessor on the alliance, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, instructed Reuters May’s was a robust speech.

“I think that is what we should aim for, but any treaty is very time-consuming. The timeline is unrealistic,” Fogh Rasmussen mentioned.

A senior U.S. official mentioned: “We know the goal, but I don’t know if this is the right vehicle.”

But May’s name to put aside “rigid institutional structures” to allow a fast settlement on security was much less effectively acquired.

“What she meant was not specified and sounded like a veiled threat,” mentioned EU lawmaker Marietje Schaake, a Dutch centrist.

One senior EU official in Munich mentioned that May would wish to submit a proper negotiating paper to element her concepts after which permit EU and British negotiators to maneuver ahead.

But the EU official mentioned May’s proposal was primarily not new and will solely come after Britain and the EU had agreed a divorce settlement. “The European Union also wants a new security arrangement with Britain, but it can’t be done before we agree on other issues,” the official mentioned.

While the standing of the Irish border and residents rights had been broadly settled in December, EU negotiators say they’re now ready for Britain to say what sort of future commerce relationship it needs.

Agreement on that entrance would permit EU leaders to endorse the plan at a Brussels summit on March 22-23 and transfer on to a particular transition association ending in December 2020.

Reporting by Thomas Escritt and Robin Emmott; Writing by Alistair Smout and Robin Emmott; modifying by John Stonestreet

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