The UK's Relations within the EU

Julie Smith and Mariana Tsatsas

Good bilateral relations are vital to effective decision-making in the EU. France and Germany, working in tandem, have for many years acted as a motor of integration.

Good bilateral relations are vital to effective decision-making in the EU. France and Germany, working in tandem, have for many years acted as a motor of integration, but few other countries have actively sought to build up good bilateral relations on a systematic basis. However, since the 1998 ‘step change’ initiative, the UK has been trying to do just this. This paper examines these efforts to enhance bilateral cooperation, aimed at improving policy-making at the European level, particularly in the areas of defence, economic policy and internal security.

Good bilateral relations are vital to effective decision-making in the EU. France and Germany, working in tandem, have for many years acted as a motor of integration, but few other countries have actively sought to build up good bilateral relations on a systematic basis. However, since the 1998 'step change' initiative, the UK has been trying to do just this. This paper examines these efforts to enhance bilateral cooperation, aimed at improving policy-making at the European level, particularly in the areas of defence, economic policy and internal security. 'This "new" bilateralism within the EU operates on a quantitatively as well as qualitatively new level, representing a vital dimension to policy-making. Smith and Tsatsas take a fresh and very welcome look at what has become the UK prime minister's favoured approach to European decision-making, providing a critical guide to its strengths and weaknesses.' - Geoffrey Edwards, Deputy Director, Centre of International Studies, University of Cambridge.