Call for Evidence
Call for evidence
Implications of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for UK-EU relations
The House of Lords European Affairs Committee, chaired by Lord Ricketts, has launched an inquiry into the implications for the UK of the EU’s foreign and security policy response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The inquiry will look beyond immediate crisis management towards the handling of longer-term issues. Its starting point is that the outbreak of a major conflict on the European continent in February 2022 has led to developments in the EU’s approach to external affairs which are likely to have important consequences for the UK-EU relationship in the future.
The inquiry will focus, in particular, on the following themes:
- The EU’s overall foreign and security policy response.
- UK-EU cooperation on sanctions, including enforcement and effectiveness.
- The EU’s developing defence policy and approach to resilience.
- Future reconstruction of Ukraine.
- The EU’s wider positioning on foreign policy and future priorities, in particular the prospect of future EU enlargement.
The Committee invites interested individuals and organisations to submit written evidence to this inquiry by 27 October 2023. Public evidence sessions are expected to take place between September and November, and the Committee aims to report to the House by January 2024.
On 24 February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. The EU and individual EU Member States, as well as the UK and other partners, immediately condemned the invasion and have since been providing support to Ukraine in a variety of ways. This has included delivery of military equipment and training of the Ukrainian armed forces, as well as economic and humanitarian support.
The EU has cooperated with other partners, including the UK, US and other members of the G7, on the imposition of sanctions against Russia, Belarus and individuals from those countries. Although UK-EU coordination on the imposition of sanctions has largely been viewed as a success, witnesses to the Committee’s previous inquiry into the future UK-EU relationship raised concerns about the effectiveness of the sanctions and of the enforcement regime.
Developments since the Russian invasion have prompted the EU to re-evaluate its defence policy and approach to resilience. In March 2022 the EU adopted its first equivalent of a national security strategy, the Strategic Compass. In the foreword to this document the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, wrote that the EU must “ensure that we turn the EU’s geopolitical awakening into a more permanent strategic posture”.
The context of the Ukraine conflict has also led to intensified cooperation between the EU and NATO. The communiqué issued following the NATO Heads of State and Government summit in July 2023 referred to the EU as a “unique and essential partner for NATO”. This also stated that for “the strategic partnership between NATO and the EU, non-EU Allies’ fullest involvement in EU defence efforts is essential” and looked forward to “mutual steps, representing tangible progress, in this area to support a strengthened strategic partnership”.
The EU and the UK can both be expected to be major contributors to the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine. This is likely to involve considerable financial support over an extended period of time. During her keynote address at the Ukraine Recovery Conference, held in London on 21 June 2023 the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said that the EU had a “special responsibility” given Ukraine’s aspirations to join the EU. At this event the Prime Minister announced a new commitment to support Ukraine’s economy with loan guarantees worth £3 billion for the next three years.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine may also have implications for the EU’s wider positioning on foreign policy and future priorities. Experts have identified a more “geopolitical” EU that is more assertive in its role as a foreign policy and security actor than was historically the case. This is also the case for individual EU Member States. One example is the publication of Germany’s first National Security Strategy in June 2023. There has been renewed debate within the EU about its ability to act autonomously, often referred to as 'strategic autonomy'.
Since 2022 the EU has also taken a more proactive approach to integrating countries of the Eastern Partnership, in particular Moldova but also Georgia. Any future enlargement may have long-term implications for the EU’s priorities and internal organisation which will be relevant to the UK’s national security interests.
The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement does not cover external affairs. The Committee has previously concluded that there would be “considerable mutual benefit” to “some structured arrangements for ongoing interaction and cooperation” on foreign, defence and security policy. This inquiry will enable the Committee to return to this issue in greater detail in the context of the EU’s evolving approach to its future role in the world.
The Committee encourages anyone with expertise in or experience of the matters under consideration in its inquiry to submit written evidence.
Diversity comes in many forms, and hearing a range of different perspectives means that committees are better informed and can more effectively scrutinise public policy and legislation. Committees can undertake their role most effectively when they hear from a wide range of individuals, sectors or groups in society affected by a particular policy or piece of legislation. We encourage anyone with experience or expertise of an issue under investigation by a Select Committee to share their views with the Committee, with the full knowledge that their views have value and are welcome.
If you wish to contribute your experience and expertise to this inquiry, please respond to the questions below. There is no obligation to answer every question, or every topic.
1. How would you assess the EU’s overall foreign and security policy response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine?
a. To what extent does the EU’s response represent a departure from its previous approach to foreign and security policy? Is this likely to be a durable shift?
b. How would you assess the overall state of cooperation between the EU, UK and other partners in relation to Ukraine? Is there a need for cooperation between the EU and the UK to be increased further? If so, in what way?
c. What implications, if any, does the EU’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine have for the UK-EU relationship in foreign, defence and security policy?
2. How would you assess coordination and cooperation between the EU, the UK and other partners on the imposition, implementation and enforcement of sanctions against Russia, Belarus and individuals from those countries since the Russian invasion of Ukraine?
a. Witnesses to the Committee’s previous inquiry into the future UK-EU relationship raised some concerns about the effectiveness and enforcement of the sanctions that have been imposed. Do you agree with this? If so, how should this be addressed by the EU, UK, US and other partners?
b. Is there a need for greater coordination and cooperation between the EU and the UK on sanctions? If so, in what ways should this be developed?
c. Are there any lessons to be learned for future coordination between the EU and UK on sanctions policy in respect of other states?
3. What implications, if any, do developments in the EU’s defence policy and approach to resilience since the Russian invasion of Ukraine have for the UK?
a. Is there a need for greater coordination and cooperation between the EU and the UK on defence policy? If so, what sorts of cooperation should be prioritised?
b. What implications, if any, do EU initiatives to increase its weapons production capacity have for UK defence procurement? Should the UK engage with these initiatives? If so, in what ways?
c. The communiqué issued following the NATO Heads of State and Government summit in July 2023 stated that for “the strategic partnership between NATO and the EU, non-EU Allies’ fullest involvement in EU defence efforts is essential” and looked forward to “mutual steps, representing tangible progress, in this area to support a strengthened strategic partnership”. As a non-EU Member of NATO what steps, if any, should the UK take to give effect to this?
4. What do you anticipate as being the respective roles of the EU, the individual EU Member States and the UK in the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine?
a. To what extent should the EU, the individual EU Member States and the UK coordinate their policies in relation to reconstruction? Will this require new cooperation mechanisms to be developed?
b. As a non-member of the EU, what approach should the UK take to Ukraine’s candidacy for EU membership? What implications does this have for the wider reconstruction process?
5. Some experts have identified a more “geopolitical” EU that is more assertive in its role as a foreign policy and security actor following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Do you agree with this assessment? If so, what implications does it have for the UK?
a. In what specific ways has the Russian invasion of Ukraine changed the EU’s wider approach to external affairs?
b. What is your understanding of the concept of EU strategic autonomy and how it has evolved since the Russian invasion of Ukraine? What relevance does this have to the UK’s relationship with the EU?
c. What implications might possible future developments in the EU, for instance enlargement to include current candidate countries in the Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership, have for the EU’s approach to external affairs? What impact would these developments have on UK-EU relations?
d. How do you envisage the EU’s approach to foreign and security policy developing in the longer-term, beyond the end of the current conflict?
6. The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement does not cover external affairs. In light of developments since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, should the UK and the EU develop more structured arrangements for cooperation in these areas? If so, what form should these take?
a. In your assessment, would the EU welcome developing its relations with the UK in this area? If so, on what terms?
b. Can the E3 format (UK, France and Germany), established during negotiations relating to Iran, be extended to cover wider policy coordination on foreign affairs and security? What impact does the UK’s status outside of the EU have on its ability to participate in forums of this sort?