France is taking the lead in shaping Europe’s military strategy – with and without Britain – in negotiations far from the Brussels and at one top-level EU meeting.

French President Emmanuel Macron is pushing for agreement of a 10-nation coalition, including Britain. Called the European Intervention Initiative, it would be a more agile, decisive force than the existing EU battlegroups, which have never been used, reported the Reuters news agency.

France’s second plan, which includes the European Union, was discussed at a gathering of EU defence ministers in the Bulgarian capital Sofia on May 5. Britain’s Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson did not attend.

According to Reuters, France supports a bigger role for Spain in EU military missions to fill the hole Britain will leave, while it will offer London a place in a new French-led European “intervention force” to keep Britain close in military cooperation.

As for formal negotiations on the post-Brexit security relationship between the EU and Britain, these have yet to start.

According to EU officials, Britain (which leaves the EU on 29 March 2019) needs to submit a detailed proposal to the European Commission’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. London says it has already presented a position paper and wants to get on with working out a deal.