Uneasy Allies: British-German Relations and European Integration since 1945

Uneasy Allies: British-German Relations and European Integration since 1945

Uneasy Allies: British-German Relations and European Integration since 1945

Uneasy Allies: British-German Relations and European Integration since 1945

Synopsis

Throughout the second half of the 20th century, fundamental differences in values and policy can be discerned in British-German relations. For historical, political, and economic reasons, the collective memories of both nations have retained very different identities and attitudes towards eachother and towards the European continent and European integration. Yet, Britain is one of the most significant European partners for Germany and Germany is of great importance for Britains role in Europe. This book focuses on the influence of European integration on the policies of Britain andGermany towards each other. It considers British-German relations in the context of European integration in their historical dimensions since 1945. Britains ambiguous policy towards the GDR and Mrs Thatchers opposition to German unification are also discussed. In particular, the book focuses on thepost-1990 relationship and examines the political, security related, economic and financial as well as the social aspects of the dynamic British-German relations in an ever more interdependent world. The influence of the US and France on both Germany and Britain and their European policies istherefore considered in detail. This book offers interesting and challenging insights into the evolution of British-German relations within the context of European integration in the post-Second World War and post-Unification era. The book argues that throughout the latter half of the twentiethcentury Britain and Germany can be characterised as uneasy allies. It is only since the late 1990s Britain and Germany appear to have become genuine partners in the context of European integration.

Excerpt

Klaus Larres

Throughout the twentieth century British–German relations have been of fundamental importance in shaping the course of European and world history. Often those relations were strained and hostile, no more so than during the Second World War. Having conquered and then governed Germany as one of the four occupation powers between 1945 and 1949, Britain became the FRG’s formal ally when West Germany joined nato in May 1955. However, it was only in the 1970s, when the uk was under great pressure from its increasing economic problems, that London began to view the British–German relationship as a partnership between equals. When Britain became a member of the then European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973, the bilateral British–(West) German relationship gradually intensified. At the same time this relationship began to include an ever greater number of other partners and developed into a truly multinational framework. Although bilateral British– German relations before and after World War ii had always been strongly influenced by third parties, with the increasing importance of the European integration factor this tendency intensified. Not least in view of the dramatic redistribution of world power status away from Europe since the end of the Second World War, it made increasingly less sense to focus on bilateral instead of multilateral relations. Moreover, throughout the entire post-1945 era neither London nor Bonn regarded their bilateral relationship as of prime importance; relations with the usa and France appeared to be much more crucial.

Thus, the publication of a book on the strictly bilateral relationship between Britain and Germany may be justified when dealing with the decades prior to 1945 and, perhaps to some degree, even with the 1950s and 1960s. However, when focusing on the years since then such a project no longer seems appropriate. and indeed, during the last few decades international historians and political scientists have recognized that the . . .

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