EU blocks UK role in key projects
The European Union has moved to block British and non-EU defence companies from participating in a €500-million defence fund after Brexit, a London-based newspaper claims.
The move, which follows the exclusion of UK employers from the €10-billion Galileo satellite navigation system on security grounds, raises fears about Brussels’ willingness to form a functioning security partnership after Brexit.
The Daily Telegraph quoted Brussels sources saying the European Commission agreed to impose “strict conditions” on non-EU firms who wanted to participate in projects financed by the military fund which is due to open next year.
The Galileo project, the European satellite global-positioning system used both for civil and military purposes, points to another small-print complexity that needs to be resolved.
The UK Space Agency said London wanted to retain its participation in Galileo, including access to classified data from the satellite system needed for security and defence. The government said this would be in the mutual interests of both parties and that the proposed exclusion from “security-related discussions and exchanges to the post-2019 development of Galileo” was inconsistent with previous agreements.
It added that if some satisfactory arrangement cannot be reached then London would develop an alternative, competing system. And it would ask for a refund of Britain’s 12-per-cent contribution to the €10-billion cost of Galileo.
Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has raised her concerns over Brexit in a meeting with chief Brussels negotiator Michel Barnier.
The Scottish Nationalist Party leader said there was a “constructive and positive discussion” during her Belgium visit.
She said Scotland should remain within the customs union and single market, regardless of what happens with Brexit.
Sturgeon said “time is running out for the UK” to sign a working deal.
Sturgeon told the BBC: “The clock is ticking and the longer it takes for the UK to reach a sensible position, the greater the risk of a no deal outcome to this which is in absolutely nobody’s interest.”
Both sides have said they want a deal in place by the end of 2018.
The first minister said London was “floundering around” in its bid to secure an agreement.
She said: “With every week that passes without the UK being clear and focused and realistic about what it wants to achieve, that prospect of a damaging no deal seems to me to get greater and that’s in nobody’s interest.”
Scottish anti-Brexit protesters in Manchester last year. Picture credit: Eurasia TImes