The United Kingdom and the future of Europe: Winning the battle, losing the war

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Although it is tempting to interpret the conduct of the UK government at the Convention on the Future of Europe (and the IGC that followed) as a continuation of the negative policy adopted by previous UK administrations in EU treaty negotiations, such a construal would be mistaken. UK preference formation was, in fact, more complex. Interpretations that highlight UK exceptionalism, the domestic pressures on government, and the role of Eurosceptic backbenchers are similarly problematic. The UK's experience at the Convention underlines, rather, the importance of institutional constraints at both the EU and national level. Moreover, despite London's success in achieving what is widely regarded as a very ‘British constitution’, the manner of its triumph and the failure to carry public opinion at home threatens to jeopardize not only the ratification of the draft constitutional treaty, but also the realization of the Blair government's broader European objectives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-281
Number of pages21
JournalComparative European Politics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2004

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