The differing opinions on what is of great significance in the sake of the European Union have now been made very clear at the first Anglo-French summit since Hollande has become president of France in May 2012. During the two hours of talks, the two leaders reached agreements on defence, energy as well as on science with a joint memorandum of understanding nuclear power.
A very different approach on economic growth has been taken on by France and the United Kingdom. Cameron’s austerity policies did not coincide with Hollande’s raised taxes. While British Prime Minister David Cameron supports immediate treaty changes, French President Francois Hollande is not in a hurry to do this. The main points on the summit’s list were related to a declaration signed by both countries on nuclear energy, closer defence co-operation between the two states and a massive investment of £15 million for instruments for weather satellites, in addition to a UK contribution to a global survey of Earth’s fresh water. Despite the common goals they had agreed on, the British and French leaders were reluctant to find a common denominator on the reform of the EU. While Cameron stood for a more flexible and competitive Europe as to make the trade block more efficient, Hollande declared that “revisiting the treaty is not a priority".
In February 2012 Cameron and Hollande affirming their commitment to working together on unmanned systems once again, but there was a lack of precise detail. The two countries agreed to investigate the possibility of working together on an advanced combat drone. Today British Reapers are on operations in Afghanistan while unarmed French Reaper drones are .
The agreements signed at an airbase near Oxford have been focusing on - besides building drones, anti-ship missiles and mine detectors - the future of the major issues between the EU and on Middle East. Cameron promised to work closely with Hollande to diminish security threats in Syria.
Cameron announced a two-year £120m feasibility study into a joint programme to build a new armed drone and revealed the plan of the countries to work together on a £10m project for an unmanned counter-mine craft. Other agreements included the £500m joint purchase of anti-ship missiles. Furthermore, there will be discussions on the possibility of a joint expeditionary force and about civil nuclear industries after a deal, in which French giant EDF would build a new power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset. Cameron wants British SME's to be involved in the industry's supply chain.
Cameron talked about the re-negotiation of UK's ties with the EU and then a national referendum on Britain's membership of the bloc by the end of 2017, assuming he wins a second term in the general election in 2015. The re-negotiation of UK’s membership would mean more control over welfare, immigration and justice.
After hours of discussion Cameron and Hollande spoke together at a joint press conference. They announced deals on nuclear power, space co-operation and defence projects.
Britain’s agreements with France are a guarantee for a future European security and not only bringing problems such as shaky economies, unstable political environments and military capabilities to the surface that shall be regulated to fight the battle for democracy and human rights. A battle which neither Hollande, nor Cameron is willing to give up.
Edited by: Réka Blazsek
Photo credits: Number 10 - The Prime Minister's Office's Photostream