Tories call for a new relationship with Europe to drive growth and security


  • Today's report recommends practical, actionable, and industry-led solutions to improve UK-EU cooperation.
  • Sir David Lidington calls for the UK and EU to "seize the opportunity" to enhance security and defence partnership
  • The Inquiry finds "British Businesses are being held back by unnecessary red tape with EU" according to Stephen Hammond MP.


The Conservative European Forum (CEF), a centre-right group focused on greater cooperation with Europe led by former Deputy PM and Europe Minister Sir David Lidington and Stephen Hammond MP, makes a strong case for redefining the UK's relationship with the European Union, including defence and security ties.


Practical improvements to Britain's relations with the European Union are achievable, would be welcomed by British business and add to the prosperity and security of the British people.


A report today from CEF, based on evidence from more than forty companies, business organisations and other experts, sets out how the review of the current Trade and Cooperation Agreement, due in 2025/26, offers an opportunity to boost growth and trade. It offers a series of practical, actionable, and industry-led solutions.


CEF Chair, Sir David Lidington, said:


“The successful negotiation of the Windsor Framework has allowed trust to be rebuilt. Both Westminster and Brussels have moved on from the bitter disputes of the years after the referendum. 


“We now owe it to the British people to seize the opportunity presented by the review to seek pragmatic changes that benefit producers and consumers both here and in the EU."


CEF Deputy Chair, Stephen Hammond MP, stated:


“A more comprehensive agreement with our European allies is needed. A lack of certainty and clarity will continue to hold businesses back and prevent economic growth. As today’s report highlights, the government must take action to cut red tape allow them to thrive internationally.


“The Prime Minister has the opportunity to build on the momentum established by the Windsor Framework to support British businesses as this report suggests, he must prioritise greater business mobility, reduce trade barriers, and advocate for mutual recognition of professional qualifications. All of which are logical steps to help British businesses thrive on the international stage.


“In a time of grave international uncertainty, further cooperation with long-standing allies should be prioritised, to help ensure our nation's defence and security.”


Commenting further, on enhanced foreign and defence cooperation, Sir David Lidington added:


“The Political Declaration, agreed by Boris Johnson, was ambitious in setting out how the UK and the EU would cooperate on foreign and defence policy, but it has never been implemented.


“If we are rethinking our relationship with the EU, the Political Declaration would be a good starting point, allowing us to enter into agreements that best serve the UK’s strategic interests.”


This push for a renewed UK-EU relationship is not just about high-level political manoeuvring; it's about practical impacts on businesses and daily life in the UK. The report highlights steps that the UK government can take independently, emphasising policy adjustments that reflect industry needs."


Some of the key recommendations include:

  • Improving business mobility for short-term service providers wanting to work in the EU.
  • Agreeing a bespoke UK-EU Veterinary Agreement to lower trade barriers.
  • Securing cultural touring agreement to bolster British creative sectors.
  • Participating in foreign and defence frameworks, aligning with EU and security allies.
  • Deepening cooperation through the Joint EU-UK Financial Regulatory Forum.
  • Linking UK and EU Emission Trading Schemes.
  • Developing a centralised hub of information to support British exporters trading with the EU.
  • Upgrading the online portal offering EU guidance for UK service providers.
  • Reaching agreements for reciprocal youth mobility schemes.
  • Working towards the interoperability of UK and EU Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanisms




Notes to editors 

A copy of the report can be found here, and a detailed summary of the findings here.


In February 2023, Sir David Lidington, and Stephen Hammond MP, launched the CEF Inquiry into the functioning of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. Over the past year, CEF has conducted an extensive series of consultations, including nine evidence sessions and roundtable discussions with more than forty witnesses from leading business and trade organisations, who provided evidence. The objective was to document the impact of the TCA across various sectors and to develop actionable, industry-led solutions to address the identified challenges.


The Trade and Cooperation Agreement, agreed in December 2020, governs the UK-EU relationship. A clause within the TCA obliges both parties to review the agreement in 2025/26. Other areas due for renewal or renegotiation around the same time include the EU’s data adequacy decisions, and energy and fisheries provisions.


The Conservative European Forum (CEF) was established in January 2021 by Sir David Lidington and Stephen Hammond MP. Committed to strengthening the UK’s strategic partnerships with the democracies of Europe, CEF acts as a thought leader, developing positive and constructive proposals to rebuild trust, enhance cooperation, and influence decision-making. CEF mainstreams these ideas within the conservative family and serves as a bridge between the UK and the European centre-right. For more information, visit: