The United Kingdom and the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the EU: from pre-Brexit 'awkward partner' to post-Brexit 'future partnership'?

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The UK’s decision to leave the European Union (EU) has presented innumerable challenges for both the leaving state and the EU. In these unchartered waters, the future of UK involvement in EU policies is much in doubt. The Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) has not been at the forefront of the debates about Brexit, though with increasing focus on the EU’s global role, the departure of the UK is likely to have significant effects. The purpose of this article is to consider the past, present and future role played by the UK in the CFSP since its inception in the Treaty on European Union. This necessitates consideration of how the CFSP might develop in the future and fulfil the goals of the recent Global Strategy. The article explores the UK’s constant opposition to greater integration in EU foreign policy and how it has purported to distance itself from the CFSP machinery. This can be contrasted with the UK’s apparent post-referendum enthusiasm for pursuing shared foreign policy goals. Whilst the CFSP may be unduly affected by the UK’s departure, neither does it mean that the CFSP will automatically become more integrated in the future. To achieve this, greater commitment will need to be shown by the EU27 to the aims of the CFSP and other Member States will no longer be able to count on the UK as the lead voice of opposition or ‘brake’ on integration. If there is a continued desire for the UK to be involved in the CFSP, finding an acceptable model for cooperation is a substantial challenge.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages30
JournalCroatian Yearbook of European Law and Policy
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jan 2018


  • European Union
  • Brexit
  • United Kingdom
  • common foreign and security policy (CFSP)
  • EU

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