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French Culture and Civilisation                                                              Jason Cates                  ...
French Culture and Civilisation                                                            Jason Catesaffairs, whereas the...
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European and Foreign Policy (United Kingdom vs. France)


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European and Foreign Policy (United Kingdom vs. France)

  1. 1. French Culture and Civilisation Jason Cates Europe and Foreign Policy (France vs. the United Kingdom)Relations between the United Kingdom and France in recent years have generally been positive andcordial. This positive relationship is based upon the Entente cordiale which was a series of agreementssigned by the two nations in April of 1904. (Britannica, 2011) These agreements are seen as theending of centuries of conflict between the two countries including the Napoleonic Wars. Cooperationbetween the two countries has moved further forward with both countries involvement inorganisations such as the EU. However, even though the UK and France have now been at peace forover 100 years, a sense of rivalry still exists between the two countries. In terms of the European Union, British and French opinions have generally differed. Thisstarted even before the UK joined the community with the initial French rejection of Britishmembership. (BBC, 2007) However, the UK did eventually join the community, but disagreementsstill occur between the two countries. This includes the issue of either widening or deepening theEU’s institutions. This is especially the case in terms of Turkey’s candidature of the EU with the UKcurrently in favour of Turkey’s membership, but with France against. (Hurriyat, 2011) This suggeststhat the UK is generally in favour of widening the EU’s membership, whereas France is in favour ofdeepening the EU’s current institutions before further widening. (BBC, 2008b) In the short term, with the current Eurozone crises, it is likely that we will see fasterintegration of the current Eurozone members than we would have otherwise seen in normalcircumstances. However, with the situation as it is, the British government broadly supports thisdeepening integration of Eurozone members in order to maintain stability in the Eurozone. (This istrue as long as the UK is not forced to take part itself) Therefore, in the near future, we are likely tosee a policy that is more towards deepening the EU’s current institutions over that of further wideningof the EU’s membership, although further widening will still take place. Often, with deeper integration comes the idea of federalism. With the current Eurozone crises,we are seeing the EU, especially Eurozone countries, move towards a more federalist state. The UKhas generally been against deepening European integration with the UK obtaining a number ofexemptions on issues such as joining the Euro and the Schengen agreement. This Eurosceptic culturewithin the UK may stem from the fact the UK is an island nation and therefore, physically separatefrom the rest of Europe. Even though in recent decades we have seen the UK forge closer relations with Europe, theUK still retains close ties with countries outside of Europe such as the USA. These ties are seen inareas such as military operations and intelligence sharing. Therefore, in the UK, there is the issue ofbalancing our relationship with Europe with that of the USA. As a result, it is often considered thatthe UK, politically and culturally, is somewhere between the two. Therefore, the UK sometimes actsmore American than it does European and vice versa. Like France, the UK is also a member of a number of other international organisations outsideof the EU including the G8, NATO, WTO and OECD as well as being one of the five permanentmembers of the UN Security Council. However, unlike France, the UK also has close ties with theCommonwealth and while both countries are NATO members, France only re-joined the alliance in2008. Therefore, comparing the UK to France, France tends to put a greater enthuses on European 1
  2. 2. French Culture and Civilisation Jason Catesaffairs, whereas the UK tends to focus more on the transatlantic relationship it has with the US. (BBC,2008a) To conclude, in terms of UK diplomacy, the UK has to balance its relationship with Europewith that of the USA. Even though the UK is legally and economically tied to Europe through the EU,the UK relates more to the USA due to their similar mentalities and the similar ways in which theyoperate. It is this fact that may have further fed the UK’s Eurosceptic nature and the distance itsometimes places between itself and the rest of Europe. This is compared to France, which is moretied to Europe, due to both, being located centrally on the continent as well as being part of theEurozone. Therefore, there is more reason for France to focus on European diplomacy and there is inthe UK and the same can be said with the UK’s relationship with the US. ReferencingBBC (2007) A timeline of the EU. Available at:[Accessed: 18th October, 2011]BBC (2008a) Sarkozy woos the British. Available at: [Accessed: 18th October, 2011]BBC (2008b) Brown seeks Entente Formidable. Available at: [Accessed: 18th October, 2011]Britannica (2011) Entente Cordiale. Available at: [Accessed: 18th October,2011]Harriyet (2011) Britains Queen Elizabeths visit to Turkey continues. Available at: [Accessed: 18th October,2011] 2