By C. Schweiger
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Extra resources for Britain, Germany and the Future of the European Union
Thatcher had co-operated closely with the French and German leaders on the development of the Single European Act in 1987, in spite of its many integrative measures. She nevertheless remained deeply sceptical about the development of a ‘federal’ Europe. Her main concern was that the integrative trend encouraged by the Delors Commission, would reintroduce the left-wing socialist policies of the Labour Party, which she had abolished, through the European back door. 15 Thatcher’s refusal to engage in major Community policy areas and her foreign policy preference for bilateral co-operation with the United States, increased the doubts among The Reluctant European 27 Britain’s European partners if the country would actually fit into the Community framework (Sanders, 1990, p.
In spite of the overwhelmingly positive outcome of the referendum on British membership, the sceptical attitude towards the EEC among the British public and the political elite continued to persist. The question of leaving the Community had been answered, at least for the foreseeable future, but anyone who expected the United Kingdom to become a more active member within the Community after 1975 was proven wrong. Successive British government continued to be extremely reluctant to actively engage in the EEC.
It would nevertheless be wrong to overestimate the general effect on British-American relations. The United States continue to depend on the support of a broad coalition of states within NATO to pursue its foreign policy priorities. British leaders should therefore be careful not to fall into the old trap of overestimating their influence in Washington, even in the post-9/11 environment. The Bush administration has shown that, in spite of British support for the war against terrorism, it is still ready to ignore British interests and pursue its own strategic (especially economic) interests.
Britain, Germany and the Future of the European Union by C. Schweiger