Jean Monnet Center at NYU School of Law


4. In Conclusion

British policy has changed a great deal in ways that bring it much more into the EU mainstream on the substance of EU policy development. It accepts policy integration in areas widely identified as those that federalists have long advocated as the high ground of integration. Hence, there ought to be more opportunities for this to generate a more willing engagement in the debate about the longer term evolution of the EU. The constraints of domestic politics and the continuing self-exclusion from the EMU leave the British with a larger handicap than many other EU governments. The inwardness of the British media accentuate this.

Yet, there are also lessons to be learned from British experience in the context of further enlargement. National political cultures do not easily yield to the pressures of `Europeanisation', and the EU project has to live with this. The debate about possible futures for the EU has to work with the grain of the real politics of the different Member States. Keeping awkward or reluctant countries outside an EU regime seems attractive, but can be counterproductive. The EMU may be the exception rather than the rule here, in that a way was found-of a quasi-objective character-to separate out the willing and able from the unwilling or unable. In many other policy areas, the inclusion of more members has, by and large, added strength to the EU regime. The numbers of countries involved may be less relevant than whether or not there is a set of congruent policy preferences, a factor that seems to have been critical in launching the new defence initiative. Thus, nervousness about the increased size of the membership of the EU may exaggerate the risks. It would be a pity if this nervousness led to too much discussion of countermeasures rather than greater efforts to `mainstream' as many European countries as possible. Moreover, there are grounds for encouragement from the diversity of modes of integration currently being developed to generate new joint-policy ventures in difficult and sensitive areas of policy.



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