A political setback but substantial economic gain might describe the outcome of the Anglo-French Summit for Prime Minister David Cameron, who hosted the Summit at the Air Force (RAF) base at Brize Norton, Oxfordshire on Friday. This was the first summit between Mr. Cameron and French President Francoise Hollande after the latter’s election in 2008.
Mr. Holland’s polite but firm no to Mr. Cameron on the issue of re-negotiating existing European Union treaties -- "We feel that revising the treaty is not a priority for the time being," he said - would have been less of a snub had it not been for developments on the same day in the House of Lords. Labour, Liberal Democrat and Cross Bench peers voted against legislation that would have given legal status to Mr. Cameron’s proposal to hold an in-out referendum on whether the UK should remain part of the EU, which he has promised in 2017 if his party is voted back to power.
Though rebuffed in his efforts to enlist France’s support on EU reform, Mr. Cameron made a robust defence of his position on the issue, stating that the referendum would go ahead if his party is re-elected.
"My position absolutely remains that we want to see those changes, we want that renegotiation," he said.
Britain and France however concluded substantial agreements in other areas, especially in defence where several agreements were signed. These include a statement of intent for a future combat air system, which would launch a 2-year, £120 million joint agreement on air defence systems; a £10 million contract for the development of underwater vehicles, and French investment in the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston, Bershire. .
Agreements were also reached on nuclear cooperation, reducing carbon emissions and meeting climate change goals. According to an official communiqué that the two sides discussed how to “further work together to develop interconnectors, nuclear and renewable energy projects; secure an ambitious and early EU 2030 energy and climate package; and deliver a global climate deal at the Paris hosted UN climate conference in 2015.”