Has British Politics been Europeanised

Before directly addressing the question it is necessary to define the main concept, Europeanisation. Europeanisation is an analytical concept which is used to “…examine the changes in domestic structures and policies that occur in response to policies and practices institutionalised at the European level. ”[1]  It is believed to be the interrelationships between the other states and the process in which “…European rules, mechanisms and collective understandings interact with given domestic structures. ”[2]  This clearly illustrates that ‘Europeanisation’ is a gradual process, rather than a dramatic evolution.

There has been much debate about whether the British political system has been Europeanised, and whether it has merged merely into a European political system, rather than maintaining its own stance as a British political system. As a result, the former political parties that stand today have differing views on this topic. Furthermore, internationalists and nationalists also maintain differing views. Internationalists see Britain as an active but in no way a dominant partner in the European institution. On the other hand, nationalists see Britain as an independent political and economic phenomenon in a global economy.

The essay will initially discuss the factors that have led to the British political system being ‘Europeanised’, and then it will give arguments for and against, and finally concluding the extent of this integration, if any at all. There are three reasons in particular, which results in the British Political system treating Europe in a delicate and respectable manner, and furthermore holding it in high regards. The first factor and arguably the most influential that will be taken into consideration, is Britain’s membership of the European Union.

“By the 1990s, British Politics were increasingly dominated by the question of the European Union. ”[3]  The European Union is one of the core influences that have led to this integration. The composition of the European Union was the result of two world wars that took place due to the rivalry between three European nations. Therefore, the sole reason for its composition was to resolve the key problems, which is to avoid further conflict in Europe, and the inability of France and Germany to live in harmony.

Initially Britain was sceptical about joining the Union, as it set out minimum working conditions, and the Conservative Party at the time saw this as jeopardising “…British economic competitiveness, which was based on work flexibility and low wages. ”[4] Furthermore, they argue that “…British industry and finance will be constrained by European regulations…”[5] However, on the other hand “Labour agreed with other member states in interpreting the opt-out as an attempt to turn Britain into the sweatshop of Europe.

”[6]  While one party felt that membership would be beneficial to British politics, the other held opposing views. The first step that was taken of merging European countries together was the integration of the economic industries, such as steel and coal. These particular industries were targeted, as they were at the time the basis of industrial and military power. The fundamental intention of this integration was to make it difficult for any “…single nations to build a separate military capacity such as had led Germany to the aggressive military policies that had produced war in 1939.

”[7] This illustrates the idea that the European Union reduces the autonomy of countries and furthermore, interferes with the governing of the countries. This consequently results in European countries adjusting their governing system to suit the European Union, and therefore, resulting in them becoming ‘Europeanised’. The rules and regulations that are undertaken by other institutions in the European Union largely influence the ones in the British Political system, and the majority of the times they are taken on board.

Consequently, the governing of Britain is not merely the result of the party in power at the time, and the British citizens, but also the system of the European Union and its citizens. This can arguably be seen as a good thing as it provides the British system with an additional institution, which provides further checks and balances on the system. However, problems can possibly arise, as the British system cannot govern completely independently.

Furthermore, there may be conflict of opinion amongst the institutions, due to differing traditions, values and beliefs. On the contrary, “…European bodies could now legislate for Britain independently of the government and even against its expressed wishes showed that national sovereignty was being eroded. ”[8] The second factor is with regards to resources. There is much questioning where resources get allocated and who decides how these resources are distributed. In the British Political system resource allocation is becoming increasingly a European matter.

The system is one of give and take, which means that Britain pay a large sum to the budget if the European Union, and in return Britain receive large amounts annually in subsidies and grants. Finally, the European Union is highly prestigious on a global spectrum as it plays the fundamental role in resource allocation and distribution; therefore, the British political system governs within the guidelines of this, so that the European system can run effectively. The countries that are part of the European Union have appeared to have much economic success and growth.

However, whether this success and growth is the direct result of economic integration is questionable. In addition, this did generate some positive energy amongst the countries, and create a vision of a “…single Europe, and created wide public support for their continuing efforts. ”[9]  Therefore, it can be said, using this evidence that this is an aspect of British ‘Europeanisation’. In addition recent treaties give much evidence that “…EU policies now affect many aspects of British economic and social life.

”[10]  However, although this is apparent, the citizens of Britain remain rather more concerned about the Westminster government Membership of the European Union has resulted in much influence on British government, as well as British life. However, there are five major influences, which are the market for goods and services, which is the first and most important area of discussion. “Membership involved both negative surrender of power by British government and positive acquisition of power by the institutions of the Union.

”[11]  An example of this surrender of powers is when Britain gave up “…any right to impose import duties or other restrictions on the flow of goods from other members of this Union. ”[12] However, there are some significant impacts which results from this integration, and this is the positive use of influence of the EU, which intends to create equal competitive condition rights across the Union. This integration has become stronger since the movement towards a single market in the 1980s.

Next the market for labour, this is an aspect of discussion which illustrates both the positive and negative influence of the EU on both British politics and its legal system. The negative effect of being part of the EU is that citizens of other member states are able to enter Britain for work purposes. Additionally, identical entitlements are given to British citizens entering other European countries. However, on a positive not, the improved working conditions have been the result of the European Union’s jurisdiction.