By C. Schweiger
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Additional resources for Britain, Germany and the Future of the European Union
At the same time, the political and economic links with the former Empire should be maintained. British leaders assumed that the global importance of their country could be maintained if they maintained a foot in each of the three circles of foreign policy interest. Clinging to its rather imperialist world power attitude did certainly not help Britain to integrate into the framework of the EEC. The perception of the United Kingdom as a reluctant European therefore, when Britain had finally entered the Common Market in 1973, quickly gained the image of a reluctant member state, who constantly pretended that it would have alternative options of engagement outside Europe (Young, 1997, p.
18). British application for EEC membership therefore became an almost inevitable option for British leaders, based on the need to attempt to reverse their country’s post-war economic decline. Connected with the growing realisation of their domestic economic troubles, was a fear that the EEC countries might close their common market to non-member states such as the United Kingdom. Hence a fear to be left out in the cold for good (Nicholls, 1992, p. 2) emerged among The Reluctant European 21 the British elite (Nicholls, 1992, p.
Contrary to British hopes, the United States did not want Britain to maintain its traditional role of an independent global power after 1945. The Americans were more interested in an active role in the development of the EEC for the United Kingdom. 25 Successive British governments only reluctantly accepted the changing situation in the Commonwealth. The shift of attention towards Europe in the end mainly occurred because Britain was hoping to maintain global influence as part of the EEC. The decision of the MacMillan administration to submit the first British application for accession to the EEC in 1961, must be seen under this global reality for British foreign policy.