France and UK to forge deals on nuclear and defence issues
25.03.08 @ 09:21
The leaders of France and Britain are to hold a joint meeting later this week expected to result in an agreement to promote nuclear power as well as further co-operation on defence, immigration and money markets.
UK daily the Guardian reported last week that Paris and London are ready to sign a deal on constructing a new generation of power plants, a move that is expected to be signed off by president Nicolas Sarkozy and prime minister Gordon Brown on Thursday.
The nuclear move is being pushed as a way that both countries can meet the new strict environment goals agreed by the EU last year, including an overall bid to reduce the bloc's carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent by 2020.
Britain wants to draw on France's experience with nuclear power to reduce its own reliance on fossil fuels such as coal, seen as major contributors to global warming, says the Guardian
The proposed move is already being protested by green organisations which say that nuclear waste is dangerous and cannot be considered a viable green option.
The two sides are also expected to reach agreement on how to strengthen European defence policy, balancing Mr Sarkozy's greater ambitions in this area with the traditional wariness of Britain.
The Financial Times reports that Mr Brown may accept a new EU body that would help co-ordinate the work of the EU's civilian staff with NATO's military personnel.
This is less than the EU military staff that Mr Sarkozy originally wanted but is seen as more realistic, particularly in the run-up to London's ratification of the European treaty, with EU defence seen as particularly controversial among British politicians and the wider public.
Immigration is also set to feature on Thursday with the two leaders expected to agree proposals on joint charter flights to return failed asylum-seekers to their home countries as well as stepping up monitoring at ports on either side of the English Channel to help curb people smuggling.
Meanwhile, Mr Brown and Mr Sarkozy are also set to call for more transparency in financial markets, following the recent turmoil in the global markets.
The Sarkozy trip to London will also be watched with interest to see the personal chemistry between the two leaders with the relationship seen as business-like but not particularly warm.
The state trip to Britain will start on Wednesday (24 March). Mr Sarkozy, who will be accompanied by his wife Carla Bruni, will stay at Windsor Castle.