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The European Way / European Union and free market seen from Europe and Britain
To understand why the European Union provokes different attitudes across the continent, Brittan believes it is necessary to trace its historical origins. He thus evokes the birth of the Europeanist movement as an expression of a desire to avoid further conflicts and the many voices that were raised in support of the project. He then recalls misunderstandings with Great Britain, which only joined the European Community in 1973. Since then many new elements – the expansion of the Common Agricultural Policy, the development of exchange regulation mechanisms and then of the euro, the European Union Social Charter and, now, the European Constitution – would appear to have caught the British government by surprise. All this has triggered strong perplexities, especially among free traders in all the countries of Europe. But it is British free traders, more than those of continental Europe, who are diffident towards the Union. After describing trends among free traders in the various countries, Brittan concludes that the time has come to interrupt the efforts to ‘build Europe’ that have characterised the last fifty years. It is far better to try to make existing institutions work. Brittan’s hope is that each country in the Union will develop in its own way, and that the dream of becoming a great power to rival the United States and China will be shelved.