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Hollande And Cameron Begin Talks At Anglo-French Summit

posted 31 Jan 2014, 04:59 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 31 Jan 2014, 05:00 ]

 RAF BRIZE NORTON, ENGLAND, UK (JANUARY 31, 2014) (UK POOL) -  French President Francois Hollande sat down for talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday (January 31) for the first Anglo-French summit since Hollande won power in May 2012.

The two are set to clash over how to reform the European Union, souring the summit aimed at deepening defence and energy cooperation.

The leaders are set to announce joint investment in the latest phase of a combat drone scheme, cooperation on civil nuclear power research and an agreement on space and satellite technology.

But the real discussion begins later when, after the formal signing of defence and energy agreements, the leaders retire to a country pub close to Cameron's family home near Oxford in central England to air their differences over EU reforms.

Cameron wants to re-open European Union treaties to try to secure sweeping reforms to make the trade bloc more efficient - an agenda he hopes will both persuade eurosceptic voters to back him at a 2015 election and quell dissent within his party. He has promised a referendum on Britain's EU membership by 2017.

But sources close to Hollande said this week that he was strongly against rewriting the treaties to suit Britain's domestic political agenda and that Cameron's push for deregulation was "toxic".

The official focus of the summit will be on defence, where a 120 million pound ($197.96 million) feasibility study into the technology behind an Anglo-French combat drone project will be unveiled. The leaders are due to inspect a prototype of the drone at the summit venue, a military airfield.

No decisions were expected on which companies would be involved in the study.

The focus on defence stems from a 2010 Anglo-French pact signed that paved the way for a joint defence force as well as collaboration on drones and other military technology development.

Friday's summit is expected to announce a 500 million pound joint purchase of anti-ship missiles developed by MBDA, a consortium of BAE Systems, Airbus Group , and Italy's Finmeccanica.

An agreement was also expected to allow the early delivery of two Airbus A400Mtransporter planes to Britain.

A number of collaborations on satellite technology are also due to be unveiled alongside a programme for sharing research on civil nuclear power.

That will include steps to involve small and medium sized British firms in the production of a nuclear power plant by French firm EDF at Hinkley point in Western England, the British officials said.


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