The British globally orientated policy

The British globally orientated policy can be criticized. In seeking the best of both worlds Britain actually ended up with very little. It became an outsider in Europe (from which it lost out financially), and in exchange attained second-rate global position that was held up only by prestige from it's past and "dependant on American goodwill" (McNeill, 1944 in Shlaim, 1978: 97). British policy had thus left the United Kingdom in a rather uncomfortable intermediate position.

Britain had no real credibility as a leader or influencer of European Policy once it gave precedence to the Common Wealth and it's `special relationship'. She looked first to the Commonwealth, then to the United States and entirely left Europe at the bottom of the pile. In-spite of this Britain was still being and `awkward partner' and holding up European Union when perhaps it was now not it's place to do so. It has thus been argued that Britain, unreasonably sought everything it's own was and should not have felt hard done by when Europe too sought it's own direction. As Newman (1996) remarks Britain, in this light, should have taken charge within the European community. Only then, from the inside, could "an alternative Community which was more accommodating to her needs could have been established" (Newman, 1997: 4).

Thus had Britain contented with a European role it, in the longer term, would have amassed greater power, and in a community that could still be shaped to its own needs. With regard to Britain's objective to rebuild Commonwealth relations, it is evident by that Britain never sought to partake a serious role in the building of Europe. Yet in spite of this fact Britain was still intent on ensuring Europe did not unite and progress. This highlights inherent contradictions and double standards in British policy:

Britain sought it's own path and yet was still aggrieved when European nations to sought their federalist future (Newman, 1996). In such light British policy can be further criticized. Conclusions The course of this essay has sought to outline the complex itinerary of events leading to Britain's nonparticipation in the forth coming European Community. Ironically it was British policy from 1945 to 1947, directly after the war that set in motion the first moves towards the integration of Europe; a movement it would eventually distance and separate itself from.

The essay has sough to depict the important events of the OEEC and Council of Europe as the major benchmarks of an anti-integration British policy. As has been endeavored to highlight, this latter 1948-49 period comprised of Britain and mainland Europe's utterly separate conceptions of how the future organization of the continent should be run.

Britain and the rest of Europe had sought two utterly opposing continental ideals: intergovernmental ideals verses supranational and federalist conceptions of organization. These events that the first part of the essay has highlighted are of immense importance. They have set the trend of uneasy relations to come between Britain and the mainland. While Britain has entered the European Community, it still lags behind with regard to the adoption of the `Euro' and still displays some of the same uneasy conceptions of integration that so permeated the Labour government of almost fifty years previous. Thus, as the essay has highlighted, from the onset Britain/Europe relations were on a `wrong footing'. It is these beginnings that have continued to set the pattern of this relationship for years to come.

The second part of this essay endeavored to discuss the reasons behind diverging Britain/Europe policies. Of notable importance was Britain's untarnished self-perception of itself as a global power. Britain believed that it could go re-establish itself as a world power. This ideal would be rendered void if she pursued integration into a broader pooled European Community. More reaching than this explanation of European rejection was a shear despise of hading autonomy and sovereignty over to a federalist European body of governance.

Historically Britain had never been accountable to a higher body and Labour was not going place the country in such a position now. The essay has sought to balance empathy of Britain's European policy with subsequent criticism. Hindsight tells us clearly that Britain should have joined a closer bond with Europe and that clearly Britain was wrong to abstain from European negotiation. Britain rejected Europe in search of a more glamorous global role that simply no longer existed. The British government's policy was also led in large part by the principle of handing over power.

Perhaps it should have thought more in terms of the realistic and practical benefits that a united community could offer. To draw one final conclusion, so much of Britain's foreign policy was linked inherently with fear. Bevin splendidly purveys this fear with regard to a loss of sovereignty threatened from the formation of the Council of Europe; "If you open that Pandora's box you never know what Trojan horses will jump out" (Bevin, 1949 in Pilkington, 2001: 9).

The British government feared a loss of sovereignty; it feared the implications of federalist rule and above all feared an inevitable stand down in global influence, stature and a retirement from the world stage. For all these reasons Britain sought to distance its political agenda from that of its own continent.


Barker, E (1983), `The British Between the Superpowers, 1945-50'. Macmillan, London. Croft, S (1988), `British Policy towards Western Europe, 1947-9: The Best of Possible Worlds? '. Royal Institute of International Affairs, Volume 64, issue 4 (Autumn), 617-629 McKesson, J (1952), `The Schuman Plan'. Political Science Quartely, Volume 67, Issue 1 (March), 18-35.