A European industry executive has warned the ties are vital, despite constant scaremongering from the bloc about Britain losing out.
Antoine Bouvier, chief executive of missile maker MBDA, said failure to agree on a “new association” on defence could have significant negative implications for both sides, as well as the United States.
Speaking at the Paris Airshow, Mr Bouvier, said: “Without the UK, with its capabilities, technologies, industry and programmes, we, the remaining 27 states, will have more difficulties to achieve critical mass in terms of budget, in terms of industrial capabilities.
“So we will have to find a way to maintain the right access for the UK to the EU defence initiatives.”
Mr Bouvier, whose company is owned by Airbus Group, Britain’s BAE Systems Plc and Italy’s Leonardo Finmeccanica SpA, gave the warning as EU leaders are meeting in Brussels.
Heads of state are set to talk over defence, security and pressing issues, including Brexit, during the EU summit this week.
Europe risks losing the critical mass it needs in terms of, unless negotiations on ‘s exit from the European Union, said on Thursday.
Jean-Claude Juncker, EU Commission President, has urged tighter military cooperation within the bloc but Bouvier’s warning reveals he may be looking too far inward.
US President Donald Trump’s lukewarm stance on the Washington-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) also angered the bloc which is currently hoping to form its own army.
Although the EU has more than a dozen military missions abroad, the world’s biggest trading bloc has never been able to match its economic might with broad defensive power, preferring to rely on NATO instead.
Monika Hohlmeier, a German member of the European Parliament and chair of the Sky & Space Intergroup, said she was open to Britain remaining engaged in defence and security matters, but only if it stopped blocking EU initiatives.
She said: “There can’t be the cherrypicking that we’ve seen in the past.