Britain’s semi-detached approach to Europe is older than the EU. As a sea power, Britain sought to stay out of continental European conflicts in order to pursue trade.

British PM Winston Churchill (1940-1945, 1951-1955), widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the 20th century, declared in 1946: “We must build a kind of United States of Europe.” Churchill was an early supporter of the pan-Europeanism that led to the formation of the European Common Market and later the EU. He believed that disunity was European’s weakness, unity – her strength.

Although it was the British PM who provided the theoretical basis for the modern European community, ironically Britain found it difficult to link domestic and European policies together.

For the former British Empire, belonging to European institutions meant a loss of its world-wide influence.

Britain didn’t take part in the founding of the EEC (European Economic Community). When the 6 EEC members flourished economically, Britain suffered economic decline.

In 1961 the Conservative Government led by H. Macmillan arrived to the conclusion that it was not such a bad idea to be a member of the EEC and applied to join it. President of France Charles de Gaulle vetoed the British application. He argued that British strong link to the USA as well as the British Commonwealth could hinder the British in their dedication to the EEC.

Only in 1973 the UK joined the EEC. Being a latecomer in the EEC, Britain had to accommodate itself to the already established policies and rules. Britain conflicted with some of them.

Margaret Thatcher, the longest-serving British PM of the 20th century (1979-1990), cultivated a close political and personal relationship with US President Ronald Reagan, based on a common mistrust of communism. She openly expressed her very negative attitude towards the EEC. She opposed to any closer integration with Europe. Thatcher was against EU monetary union, through which a single currency would replace national currencies. Also, for M. Thatcher, Britain was losing its independence and sovereignty by transferring the power of decision-making to Brussels.

She was replaced by John Major, whose government ratified the Maastricht Treaty (1992), which led to the formation of the EU (1993). In the 1990s after German reunification, Britain negotiated “opt-outs” of Economic and Monetary Union.

In 1997 the Labor PM, Tony Blair was very enthusiastic about the EU and he announced a referendum on adopting the Euro. But it didn’t take place during his service.

Many European countries saw the EU as a kind of counterweight to the USA. After the terrorist attacks in September 2001 Britain demonstrated “shoulder to shoulder” with America and sent its troops to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Nowadays the British PM makes it clear that there is a crisis of European competitiveness. He announced Britain would hold an “in-out” referendum on British membership of the EU. However, the referendum is likely, its outcome remains difficult to predict. In 1975 the British had a referendum on its membership of the EEC. Most British voters wanted to leave the so-called Common Market, but in the end, two-thirds of them voted to remain in it.


Topical Vocabulary:


1. pan-Europeanism идея объединения Европы
2. the European Common Market Европейский Общий Рынок
3. the European community Европейское сообщество
4. the Monetary Union Валютный Союз
5. a loss of influence потеря влияния
6. flourish (v) процветать
7. decline (v) economic decline (n) идти на убыль экономический упадок
8. veto (v) application наложить вето на вступление страны
9. hinder (v) мешать, быть помехой
10. dedication преданность
11. latecomer последний присоединившийся
12. accommodate oneself to rules, policies принять установленные правила
13. cultivate relationship культивировать
14. link together соединять
15. single currency единая валюта
16. transfer power to передавать власть
17. reunification объединение вновь
18. announce (hold) referendum on объявить (проводить) референдум по
19. adopt принять
20. counterweight противовес
21. compete competitive competitiveness соревноваться конкурентный конкурентоспособность
22. outcome итог, результат



Exercise 24.

Give the English equivalents to the following words and word-combinations:

потерять влияние на мировой арене; процветать; быть последним присоединившимся; принять уже устоявшиеся правила; выражать негативное отношение (к); единая валюта; передать полномочия; провести референдум о членстве страны; результат трудно предсказать; противовес; преданность; принять участие в образовании ЕС.


Exercise 25.

Give the Russian equivalents to the following words and word-combinations:

to suffer economic decline; European Common Market; EU Monetary Union; to veto the British application; to hinder the British in their dedication to the EEC; relationship based on a common mistrust of communism; to oppose to any closer integration with Europe; reunification; to link domestic and European policies together; to accommodate oneself to rules; power of decision-making.


Exercise 26.

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