LONDON — The U.K. has joined an EU military mobility project aimed at easing the transport of troops and equipment across Europe, signaling closer EU-U.K. defense cooperation after Brexit.
Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign affairs chief, announced Wednesday that the bloc has accepted Britain’s application to join project, one of the biggest steps in cross-Channel cooperation since the U.K. left the union.
The project, led by the Netherlands, is intended at cutting red-tape which hinders troop deployments, such as customs rules on transport of military equipment. It also hopes to enhance the exchange of information between participating countries.
“The security environment in Europe has changed dramatically since last February war is back to our borders,” Borrell told a press conference in Brussels. “We have to adapt our defense policies to this new environment.”
EU ambassadors gave their green light to Britain’s accession on October 19, paving the way for the decision to be formalized, without debate, at a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels.
Britain’s participation marks a change in the EU’s position on security cooperation with the U.K. in recent years, an ambassador from an EU country said.
Immediately after Brexit, the bloc demanded that a defense and security treaty with the U.K. be signed before collaboration in this field could take place because this area of policy had been excluded from the Brexit Trade and Cooperation Agreement. But Russia’s war against Ukraine has forced Brussels to be more flexible, the envoy added.
The U.K.’s accession was also aided by the involvement of the U.S., Canada and Norway in the EU’s military mobility project last year, and the ample public support in Britain for defense and security cooperation with European neighbors.