Introduction (Problem Statement)
Since the early years, Britain has been a formidable powerhouse in Europe and the world at large. Its strength, more especially military and economic strength, not only helped it propagate its culture across Europe, but also enabled it easily to enforce its policies in other European countries. However, that seems to have changed with the advent of the concept of globalization and its perils, such as terrorism.
The influence of Britain’s foreign policy is highly questionable with the current state of affairs, both locally and globally. This is a proposal for a research that seeks to examine how influential the current Britain foreign policy is in other European countries.
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This research will be useful in providing insight into the current state of Britain’s influence on other European countries through its foreign policy. Information gained will guide stakeholders on relevant areas than the need to be concentrated on and the insignificant ones that need to be done away with.
From the past, British governments have justified their foreign policies as being set up to determine, develop and protect the interests of the British people. There has been no clear definition of what exactly these interests are given the varied nature of Britain’s demographic composition, leading to many heated debates in civil and social circles. The British population in itself is divided regarding the role of Britain in the European Community, and whether it is warranted or not. Some think that involvement of Britain in the European Community is draining it financially because it is offering more than it is receiving. Others oppose it because it has led to the loss of the “British” identity. Despite the mixed reactions about the role of Britain in Europe, it is accepted that Britain is relatively influential because of its financial and military capability.
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Britain’s influence in the rest of Europe cannot be taken for granted. For a long time now, it has been among a trio of nations that have been known significantly to determine the outcome of developments in Europe. However, this knowledge is not flaunted publicly because it would undermine the concept of democratic representation and equal participation in decision-making by member countries in the European Union. Lehne (2012) extensively discusses this issue in his article The Big Three in EU Foreign Policy. Lehne begins by dispelling the commonly assumed fact that Europe acts as unified community where all of its 27 member states equally participate in discussion and decision making (2012). He states “behind the scenes lies a tacit agreement that the largest member states with the most resources take the lead. Three of those states are in a category of their own: France Germany and the United Kingdom” (p. 1).
Several factors give these three countries their perceived bargaining power including their massive resources, which ensure that they do not actually rely to influence affairs on other countries. Lehne (2012) continues to point out that another factor is that these countries have the advantage of depending on other institutional frameworks where they operate other than the European Union (2012). The third factor is that the three countries do influence their policies on a global scale as compared to the remaining European Union members.
The ability of Britain to influence developments in other European countries is likely to weaken because other countries are likely to become more powerful as its military, economic and demographic power reduces. Another factor that could lead to the weakening of British influence in Europe is the threat to its own unity. Robbins (1997), states that the members of the United Kingdom have not been able unanimously to endorse its role in propagating and protecting its ‘interests’ in Europe. For instance, Northern Ireland is opposed to the British foreign policy because it will most likely to lead to the loss of the “British” identity. Robbins also brings to light the fact that Britain was not united on the suggestion of adopting a single European currency (1997). The Conservative party, which was largely dominated by English legislators, voted against the proposal while, in Scotland and Wales, the idea was widely accepted. This, coupled with devolution, led to the question on how Britain’s policy would be shaped if it would not be united in itself. Therefore, this clearly shows how domestic wrangles have been weakening Britain’s influence in Europe.
The influence Britain has to the rest of the European Community is also shown to be on the decline based on what Britons on their own think about their influence. According to Kellner (2012), a survey conducted by YouGov in August 2012 showed that a majority of Britons think that Europe is critical to Britain but not them. Kellner states that results from the survey indicated “Britons named Europe as the fourth most fundamental issue facing the country (of twelve that were listed, behind the economy, immigration and asylum and health), but only the tenth most important for them and their families” (p. 1).
In another way, Britain’s relationship with other European countries can be viewed as a factor that has influenced it. In other words, other than influencing other European nations, Britain has been influenced. Younger (1972) stated that Britain’s foreign relationship with other European countries was inevitable and was already moving ahead of lawyers and diplomats; who realized it too late and were rushing to comprehend it. Younger wrote “…in the matter of external relations, more than most other fields, it is surely the case that the decision to take part in the attempt at integration within Western Europe has been the consequence rather than the cause of Britain’s changed world position” (p. 579). The changes Young was referring to were to do with world politics; some of which were beyond the control of Britain.
Britain’s foreign policy is said to be influential in other European countries because of the nation’s economic, military and demographic power. However, skeptics point out that the influence could be weakening because of factors such as lack of unity at the domestic level. This research will be conducted to establish or refute the hypothesis that domestic wrangles and global pressures are affecting Britain’s foreign influence across Europe.
This research will be conducted based on the Historical Research Design. This is because the data that will be collected will be historical in nature that is whether Britain’s foreign policy has had any impact on other European nations. Collected data will be analysed to establish or refute the idea of Britain’s foreign policy influence.
Data Collection and Reporting
Data for this research will be collected through face-to-face interviews as well as through questionnaires that will be filled by respondents. Because of the vastness of the population from which data will be drawn, the questionnaires will be mailed in returnable envelopes. This research will also rely upon secondary sources such as existing relevant surveys.
Since the audience for this research will consist of a variety of individuals such as legislators, technocrats, scholars and economists, the most appropriate way of presenting the data will be through publications; which include books and journals.
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