To what extent is it fair to describe Britain as an Awkward Partner in the European Community?

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Daniel Evans

To what extent is it fair to describe Britain as an Awkward

Partner in the European Community?

Britain emerged from the war in a relatively favourable position, compared to its European neighbours. In 1946 industrial production was as high as at any time pre-war, and increasing quite fast. By the end of the year exports had regained their pre-war level along with this there was little unemployment and retail prices remained fairly stable. All this contrasted strongly with the situation in France, Germany and Italy. Indeed in the late 1940's and into the early 1950's Britain's economy performed better then it's European counterparts. Churchill suggested that France and West Germany should lead the creation of a new Europe for "justice, mercy and freedom". He implied the Britain was above such an organisation because he didn't think the UK needed to be involved economically. After all, the height of the British Empire was only in 1933 when one quarter of the world's landmass and one quarter of its population was under British control. Many, as well as Churchill assumed Britain's traditional world status was not destined to whither, and Churchill called for the United States, the USSR and Britain to be "friends and sponsors" of a new Europe, underlying the idea that Britain felt superior to Europe.

Initially post war Britain had a Labour government. They saw any European community as a capitalist enterprise that was likely to inhibit any moves towards a more planned economy, and to insist on the rigours of the free market. It was under this government of Clement Attlee that Britain refused to allow the Council of Europe develop as the federalists would have hoped, into a federal European government. Also in this period Britain refused to join the newly European Coal and Steel

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Community only sending an observer to the negotiations. The official line on Britain's non-entry being ,"we are not willing to make prior commitment to a scheme whose terms of membership are unknown." This also underlines the fact that Britain wanted to continue 'as before' and thought it could, at the time Britain was producing about one half of the coal and steel in Europe.

Right from the conception of the European union Britain has stood aloof from the union being very cautious and wary.  From as far back as the creation of the European Steel and Coal Community in 1952 ...

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