France - United Kingdom

Hollande, Cameron disagree on EU treaty, sign defence deals

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (R) greets France's President Francois Hollande at RAF Brize Norton
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (R) greets France's President Francois Hollande at RAF Brize Norton Reuters/Andrew Winning

Revising the European Union treaty is not a priority, French President François Hollande said after his first summit with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday. Cameron wants changes to the treaty before a general election in 2015 and has promised to renegotiate Britian's membership.

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A major change to the EU treaty would take time, Hollande told a joint press conference with Cameron.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

Earlier he said that changes are not a priority for France, an unwelcome statement for the British prime minister who had promised a referendum on Britain's EU membership after the next election and wants the treaty revived to allow countries to opt out of the historic objective of an "ever closer union" to fend off criticisms of eurosceptics in his party and in the hard right UK Independence Party (Ukip).

Cameron, who has criticised French ecnomic policy in the past, praised Hollande's new Responsibility Pact, which will reduce taxes on business in the hope of creating jobs.

The two leaders have met several times but the meeting was the first official summit since Hollande's election in 2012.

Held at the Brize Norton air force base in Cameron's Oxfordshire constituency, it concentrated on reviving the 2010 Lancaster House agreement on defence cooperation, which seemed to have gone on the back burner after Hollande's election and was affected by defence cuts in both countries.

The two signed a deal to buy 600-million-euros-worth of light anti-ship missiles for use on naval helicopters from a consortium made up of Britain's BAe, the European Airbus Group and Italy's Finmeccanica.

They were also due to agree to fund a two-year feasibility study into producing an armed drone, following provisional work by British and french companies Thales, Dassault, Rolls Royce and BAe.

France has also agrred to speed up delivery of two Airbus A400M military transport aircraft.

The two leaders were also expected to boost cooperation on civil nuclear energy after France's EDF won contracts to build two nuclear reactors in Britian.

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