But if the summit is to generate a genuine reset, it needs substance, such as the launch of new initiatives and opportunities for cooperation. The two governments have cited energy cooperation, especially nuclear, as priorities for the summit. Other options could include securing supply chains, coordinating maritime presence in the Indopacific, countering hybrid threats and improving joint situation assessment.
Both governments should consider setting up an expert group, with experts from both countries, to provide input.
Supporting each other’s global initiatives
Nonetheless, a Franco-British summit will not be sufficient to mend relations. Where possible, the UK and France should also publicly support each other's initiatives.
For France, this means the UK taking an interest in Macron's proposal for a European political community, a new political platform to bring European countries closer together to address issues that affect the whole continent such as Covid-19, vaccine production or even how to respond to the war in Ukraine. For Macron, the European political community can only succeed with the UK in it.
The good news is that the Prime Minister not only attended the first meeting in Prague yesterday - she also supports the initiative. Whether the UK remains committed to the platform depends on what follows. For Liz Truss, it needs to be intergovernmental, and separate from existing initiatives like the G7 or NATO. She also wants no role for the EU or its institution.
But it takes two to tango. For the UK, France also needs to show an interest in some of Britain’s proposals. The UK wants more forums to discuss multilateral issues. France should look to support the UK’s effort to strengthen the Quint, an informal grouping bringing together the US, the UK, France, Germany and Italy. It should also engage with Truss' idea to make the G7 an "economic NATO"- by giving it more muscle so that G7 members and allies like South Korea and Australia can better coordinate sanctions. The term "economic NATO" is unlikely to fly in Paris especially given French voters’ ambivalence toward NATO - but it would be wrong for France to dismiss the idea outright. Showing interest does not always lead to full commitment, but it can do wonders to re-establish trust.
Despite all the hiccups over the years, France and the UK are natural allies. Bilateral spats should not prevent them from working more closely together.
Macron and Truss are right: the time for a bilateral reset is now.
Copyright: Ludovic MARIN / AFP
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