The announcement by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron that their countries intend to cooperate in producing a new fighter aircraft has sparked great interest in UK defence and industrial circles. However, how significant is this as a ‘hard’ defence initiative?
The inauguration of the new US president has produced mixed reactions in Europe: some, like Germany, are cold-shouldering Donald Trump, while Britain is embracing him. Yet there is no consensus on what is the right approach. There is no guarantee that either would succeed in influencing Washington.
The UK is ‘back East of Suez’, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson declared earlier this month. However, while the British government is making the engagement with the Arab Gulf states a centrepiece of its foreign policy, Germany is also looking to strengthen its relationships in the region, albeit more cautiously and with less fanfare.
Germany’s interior minister Thomas de Maizière is set to announce new measures aimed at curbing terrorism after the Islamic State claimed two attacks in the country last month. Some may make a real difference, but many are intended to address the growing debate about the country’s immigration stance.
The likelihood of a second referendum designed to reverse the first referendum’s decision (as in the Republic of Ireland in 2009) remains very low in the UK, so the Brexit verdict seems irreversible. It also appears certain that the new prime minister, Theresa May, will eventually trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, likely in September or October.