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Brexit and Beyond

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Neil Hall / Reuters Participants hold a British Union flag and an EU flag during a pro-EU referendum event at Parliament Square in London, Britain June 19, 2016. 
Foreign Affairs From The Anthology: Brexit and Beyond
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After Brussels

In 1962 the European enthusiasts in Brussels were explaining regretfully that although British membership would slow down the process of European integration-perhaps severely impede the whole movement toward a United States of Europe-it was a price that had to be paid for widening the geographical spread of the Community. No doubt these people, while regretting the manner of General de Gaulle's rupture of negotiations with Britain, are now privately relieved that the price will not have to be paid. Their view is that Britain's inherent weakness is such that she will be compelled sooner or later to come back and knock on the door again and plead for entry into the European Economic Community (E.E.C.). On the whole, better later than sooner. The European Community will by then have consolidated itself; it will be able to impose its terms with less difficulty and, in fairness it should be added, will be less niggling about making small concessions which may contravene the letter, though not the spirit, of the Treaty of Rome.

All told, then, in the view of this school the British negotiation was premature. It was forced on the Community by British diplomatic pressure and carried forward almost within sight of a successful conclusion as a result of British diplomatic skill. Only a major coup in the contemporary rough diplomatic style of the French could have stopped it. That it was the French has some incidental advantages. Having been so rough with their own partners and caused them much loss of face, the next moves from France, it is argued, must surely be placatory. And one sure-fire way in which de Gaulle could placate the offended Europeans would be to offer to speed up the process of European integration. The end product in that case could therefore be an offer of more supranational powers to the European Commission in Brussels. Thus, in spite of Voltaire and the recurrent and variegated manifestations of the astringent French spirit, all may still

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