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Britain's Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis delivers a speech in London
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/L. Neal

UK: EU 'shooting itself in the foot' over space

June 7, 2018

The UK's chief Brexit negotiator says the EU needs to reconsider its "dogmatic" approach in Brexit talks. He said any attempt to block the UK from EU defense programs would backfire and harm the bloc's future security.


The European Union is "shooting itself in the foot" by planning to block the United Kingdom's future participation in EU space and defense programs, the UK's top Brexit negotiator said on Wednesday.

Brexit Secretary David Davis (pictured) said that while the UK was seeking an "unconditional" security partnership with the bloc after the UK's departure in March 2019, the EU had adopted a "dogmatic" negotiating position on security ties.

Read more: EU launches new defense fund amid growing security concerns

Spat over Galileo

He cited what he said was the EU's attempt to block UK companies from applying for contracts to produce parts for the Galileo satellite navigation system, the EU's attempt to develop an alternative to the US Global Positioning System (GPS).

"We have spent hundreds of millions of pounds on the Galileo project, and thousands of hours of work has been dedicated to making sure the system is secure," Davis said in a speech in London. The UK's absence from the project would delay its initiation by three years, he added, and increase its costs by €1 billion ($1.2 billion).

Read more: No Irish. No blacks. No dogs. No Galileo

"But now, the Commission are suggesting that by being involved, Britain poses a risk to the security interests of the European Union," he said, referring to the EU executive. "The Commission's position," he added,  "seems to be shooting itself in the foot just to prove that the gun works."

The EU has said it would still work with the UK on Galileo, but that future cooperation would require the UK to agree to rules to protect sensitive security information.

Spat over European Defense Fund

Both sides are hoping to reach a comprehensive Brexit deal by October, but talks have stalled amid disagreements over the UK's future trading relationship with the EU and the status of the border between Northern Ireland, a British territory, and the Republic of Ireland, an EU member.

But the disagreements over future security ties have also cast a shadow on negotiations.

Speaking on Wednesday, Davis said the EU's position also risked excluding the UK from the European Defense Fund, which provides financial support for continental defense-related research projects. Blocking the UK from the fund would, Davis said, risk "damaging potential cooperation in the longer term."

Read more: UK minister Fallon: 'Defense is for NATO and not the EU'

'If you harm Britain, you harm all of Europe'

He added that the UK would respect the jurisdiction of the EU's highest court, the European Court of Justice (ECJ), in security matters if the bloc allowed the UK to cooperate with EU security agencies after Brexit.

Davis warned the EU that if it tried to punish the UK for leaving, it would undermine the EU's post-Brexit security.

"Those who say, or think, that the UK must be seen to be damaged by Brexit, should think again," he said. "Because the truth is, if you harm Britain, you harm all of Europe."

amp/bw (dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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