Working hand in hand?

Think tank: Centre for European Reform

Author(s): Ian Bond; Luigi Scazzieri

May 20, 2024

This report from UK think tank the Centre for European Reform makes recommendations on how the UK and its European allies could better co-ordinate their support to Ukraine..

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a watershed moment in European security. So far, Britain, Germany and other European countries have worked closely to support Ukraine. But Russia is now on the offensive again, and the longer the war goes on, the more differences of emphasis are appearing – on issues such as the kind of military support that should be given to Ukraine and whether or not to confiscate frozen Russian assets.

A new policy brief from the Centre for European Reform, with the support of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) UK & Ireland, evaluates co-operation between the UK and its European allies in supporting Ukraine, in terms of sanctions, military support, financial support and reconstruction. ‘Working hand in hand? EU-UK co-operation in supporting Ukraine’ makes recommendations on how the UK and its European allies could better co-ordinate their support to Ukraine in the future.

These include: 1. Establishing a structured UK-EU security dialogue to strengthen bilateral links and Trump-proof co-operation, and more UK-EU defence industrial co-ordination to address the emerging ‘defence industrial gap’. 2. Working together more closely on Ukraine’s reconstruction and EU integration. The UK and the EU should continue to co-ordinate closely on how Russia’s frozen assets and their profits can be used and ways to mobilise private capital for Ukraine’s reconstruction.

While the post-Brexit UK-EU Trade and Co-operation agreement does not include provisions on foreign policy co-operation, the UK and EU approaches towards Ukraine have so-far been closely aligned. The challenge is sustaining and deepening this, particularly if Trump wins the US election. A Trump Presidency would complicate the approval of further military assistance for Kyiv and hobble the effectiveness of many of the multilateral co-operation channels used by the UK and its partners, such as the G7 or the Ramstein format (in which Ukraine and its partners co-ordinate the supply of military assistance).