German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen on Friday told DW that Europe was working on ways to continue defense cooperation with the United Kingdom in the event of Brexit.
“We are working on a regulation — the so-called third-state regulation — that gives access to countries like our British friends, which we want to have in our European Defense Union,” von der Leyen said. “This is the goal to have our British friends as close as possible.”
Von der Leyen was speaking after she opened the Munich Security Conference alongside British Defense Minister Gavin Williamson. During his speech, Williamson urged Germany to continue military cooperation at a European level outside of NATO and the EU.
“Whilst the UK is leaving the EU, I want to start by saying our commitment to European security remains steadfast,” said Williamson. “We will continue to step out into the world protecting our friends, defending our interests, standing-up for our values.”
But Williamson also appealed for closer European military integration — an unpopular idea among many supporters of Brexit — not to come at the expense of European NATO members that are not in the EU; a status that already applies to Turkey and Norway, and that looms for the UK.
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