The only countries in Europe with nuclear weapons, permanent members of the UN Security Council, with ambitions on the international stage and the related political and military tools, our two countries often share similar approaches within international organizations, including the United Nations.
Our bilateral relations are maintained through periodic contacts at all levels and periodic summits. Joint initiatives including during the financial crisis have been numerous and fruitful. Dialogue within the framework of the French Presidency of the G8/G20 was important on many levels, with the British Prime Minister chairing a working group on global governance.
On July 8th, 2011, Prime Minister Francois Fillon received British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, with whom he discussed current major economic and European issues. On July 25th, the Ministre d’État met with his counterpart William Hague in London. David Cameron, accompanied by William Hague, came to Paris on September 1st to co-chair, with the President of the Republic, the “Friends of Libya” conference. On December 2nd, he met with the President of Republic mainly to discuss the situation in the euro zone.
The most recent bilateral summit was held on February 17th, 2012. It provided for deepening Franco-British cooperation even more regarding defense and launching a partnership in the energy sector, focusing on civil nuclear energy (creating a Franco-British high-level nuclear energygroup; confirming the construction by EDF Energy of four EPR reactors in the UK; developing joint research and training programs; cooperating on nuclear safety and security issues, but also on renewable energy (offshore wind turbines, wave and tidal farm off the island of Alderney).
The 31st summit held in London on November 2nd, 2010 marked a turning point for our relations in defense issues. Indeed, the President of Republic and the British Prime Minister signed two major treaties, ratified in spring 2011 and now in force:
a Defense and Security Treaty, for the operational (joint exercise), capacitive, RD, and industrial (missiles) components of our military cooperation. In particularly, it provides for pooling resources;
a specific treaty, made possible by the previous one, regarding joint facilities for nuclear cooperation.
The Libyan crisis showed converging views and analysis between Paris and London, who took the initiative of international action including adopting UN Security Council Resolution 1973. This crisis mobilized both diplomatic services (G8 ministerial meeting in Paris on March 14th – 15th, London conference on March 29th, visit by the Defense Minister to London on May 9th, etc.). The conflict provided for closer operational ties between our two armies, on the front lines of the military actions undertaken.
At a summit on February 17th, 2012, drawing conclusions from the Libyan conflict, our two countries decided to further strengthen their defense cooperation: they announced the finalization in 2012 of the Joint Staff at the non-permanent operational level, increasing officer exchanges and joint programs developing several types of UAVs.
Cooperation in Security and Combatting Illegal Immigration
Cooperation regarding combatting illegal immigration is undergoing major growth with very significant results (75% decrease in the number of asylum seekers in Pas de Calais) since the closure of the Sangatte Center (December 2002) and the gradual establishment of co-located inspection bureaus in the Channel ports and on the Eurostar. Information centers have been set up in Folkestone and Calais. During their summit in 2010, a public statement regarding combatting illegal immigration was adopted and an administrative arrangement complements existing schemes.
In addition, France and the UK will work closely to ensure safety and security at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London, respectively, to be held from July 27th to August 12th and from August 29th to September 9th, 2012.
The legal regime currently applicable to the Channel Fixed Link is defined by the provisions of the Canterbury Treaty on February 12th, 1986 regarding the construction and operation by private concessionaires of a Fixed Link and the provisions of the Four Party Concession dated March 14th, 1986 binding the French and British governments and the Eurotunnel concessionaire. An Intergovernmental Commission (IGC) is responsible for “monitoring, on behalf of both Governments and by delegation, all issues involved in the construction and operation of the Fixed Link” and has, with regards to the Fixed Link, regulatory authority.
Updated on 29.02.12