08:18 GMT20 June 2021
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    Before and since the UK withdrew from the European Union on 31 January 2020, London has been seeking stronger economic and political partnerships elsewhere. But, according to a French minister, the UK and the continental countries "cannot sit there immobile staring at one another" without seeking closer ties.

    Britain has been reported to be discussing bilateral post-Brexit agreements with major European powerhouses, such as Germany, Italy and France.

    Media reports have described the behind-the-scenes talks to have taken place at ambassadorial and ministerial levels.

    One of the subjects where there has been possible agreement between London and its continental neighbours is defence cooperation: France and the UK already maintain close defence ties. Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French foreign minister, said - while visiting London at the beginning of May for the G7 foreign ministers’ summit - that the two nations have similar agendas. 

    “On many issues, we have congruent views, shared analysis or common interests. We are neighbours. We cannot sit there immobile staring at one another,” Le Drian said.

    The Italian deputy defence minister, Giorgio Mulé, spoke about a “willingness to keep the British commitment to security in Europe high”.

    He added that to boost cooperation, it was important to "anchor an industrial policy which uses competence, know-how, ability and technological innovation to be able to cope with aggressive - and often ruthless - international competition, particularly from China."

    Since 2019, UK defence companies (BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, Rolls-Royce and MBDA UK) and renowned Italian players (Leonardo Italy, Elettronica, Avio Aero and MBDA Italy) have been partners on the Tempest programme after signing a Statement of Intent (SOI), according to a statement from Leonardo.  

    Germany’s interests in a bilateral relationship with the UK, outside the EU, have already been mentioned by Andreas Michaelis, the German ambassador to the UK. He has called the UK an ideal partner for a deep alliance with Germany.

    Leaders of Germany, France and Italy will have the chance to court the UK during the 47th G7 summit on between 11 and 13 June in Cornwall.

    European Union, Germany, France, United Kingdom
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