EU ‘will offer Boris Johnson a defence pact’ to boost security cooperation between Britain and Brussels after US exit from Afghanistan prompts calls for closer working together
- Dutch PM Mark Rutte is meeting Boris Johnson for a working dinner this evening
- Mr Rutte is expected to ask Mr Johnson to agree a new defence pact with the EU
- Will be seen as response to European concerns over US exit from Afghanistan
Brussels is set to ask Boris Johnson to agree a defence and security pact with the EU, it was claimed today.
Reports suggest Mr Rutte will offer Mr Johnson the chance to work more closely with the EU on defence and security matters.
The offer to the UK will be viewed as a direct response to European disquiet over the manner of the US exit from Afghanistan.
Brussels is set to ask Boris Johnson to agree a new defence and security pact between Britain and the EU
Mark Rutte, the Dutch Prime Minister, is expected to make the offer when he meets Mr Johnson for a working dinner in Downing Street this evening
Mr Johnson and other European NATO leaders had urged Joe Biden to delay the US withdrawal from Kabul to provide more time for humanitarian airlifts.
But the requests were snubbed and the US President opted to proceed with his hard deadline of August 31.
That decision left MPs wondering if the UK’s foreign policy, which has long been linked to Washington’s actions, was at a crossroads.
Senior figures in the EU now want to develop the ability to act militarily without having to rely on the US.
Defence cooperation was not included in the Brexit negotiations but Brussels now believes the UK could be more open to increased working together.
A diplomatic source told The Times: ‘Afghanistan is a catalyst for further discussion on European defence cooperation, preferably including the UK.
‘Since Brexit, not enough European leaders have been in touch with Johnson.
‘It is important to look at the geopolitics without being divided and there is a need to work with the UK.’
France and Germany are both said to be on board with the proposal set to be made by Mr Rutte despite French anger of the new security pact agreed by the UK, US and Australia.
One source said the Dutch ‘can be a bridge’ between the UK and the rest of the EU ‘but we have to see if the British leader is interested, first and foremost if there is fertile soil for the offer’.
The offer will be viewed as a direct response to European disquiet over the manner of the US exit from Afghanistan
The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman would not be drawn on the reports but said: ‘I have seen the speculation obviously of the reporting this morning but I am not going to preempt what he will say.
‘We have a strong defence relationship both with the EU and individual EU member states.
‘Obviously we have always been clear that NATO remains the cornerstone of Euro-Atlantic security and we are its biggest European contributer.’