At the end of the Second World War, Europe was devastated. Almost immediately the leaders of the countries of Western Europe began to consider ways of drawing together in order to providegreater security against threats of attack. By 1957 these ideas had taken the form of the EEC.
The European Union is made of 25 countries committed to work together for peace and prosperity. The flag : The closed circle of twelve yellow stars represents the Union of peoples. This union of these nations was not made without difficulties one of these difficulties was the integration of Britain inthe European union. Britain has hesitated for a long time before entering the EU as a lot of economic, political and social questions occurred. We will discuss about the British point of view on European integration has evolved from the 1950s to the present day.
What was the turning point which made a difference in the British government
and enabled them to enter the European Union?
I-British point of view on the European integration in the 1950s
In the 1950s as we can read in Tony Blaires speech in 2001, we learn that main objection had to do with loss of sovereignty, British governments thought that they would no longer be in control of their own economy. The supra-national nature proposed coal and steel community which has been put in place in 1952 Britain found ituseless as they said that it would be a risk for the employment, but as Tony Blair said il was a success “ and Britain was left behind”.
Their was the fear that they're relationship with the commonwealth would be ruined as they believed that with a population of around 800 million, seemed a more promising market that the EEC.
Britain refused to enter the EEC as for the importance of itscommercial, political and, even, sentimental bonds with its colonies and former colonies, most of them integrated in the Commonwealth, furthermore the British government defended the establishment of a free trade area, in which the internal customs rights were abolished, but national governments would maintain their competences of enacting their own tariffs with regard to third countries. Britain wastotally opposed to embarking on a project whose long-term aim was to surrender the sovereignty of national states to supranational European institutions. In other words, the British were, and many of them still remain, very far from the objective of an European political union.
After negotiations to integrate Britain in the EEC broke down, the British government proposed the foundation of theEuropean Free Trade Association (EFTA), Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, Austria and Portugal joined to that new organisation. It fell far short of any project of political integration, and constituted a mere free trade area.
II- Britain application to the EEC
a) The reasons they applied
Shortly, Britain realized its mistake. Whereas the EEC witnessed a spectacular economic growth, withgrowth rates in the sixties clearly superior to those in America, Great Britain continued its downward trend in relation to the Continent. As Tony Blair says in his speech Europe was in Britain interest, as today nearly sixty per cent of british trade is with the rest of Europe. The common wealth in spite of it's huge population, had nothing like the same purchasing power as the EEC, ,in addition tothat with the colonies gaining there independence there was no guarantee that the trade would last. Another argument put forward was that once britain joined, competition from EEC members would stimulate British industries as Tony Blair says « our membership of the Eu is crucial to attracting foreign direct investment to the UK ».
b) An integration with several opposition
One of the main...