European Leadership and America: Time For a Threesome

Much to the displeasure of Europe’s smaller countries, trilateral meetings of the European Union’s ‘Big Three’ – Britain, France and Germany – occur with increasing frequency. In fact, an informal triple leadership has emerged. The collapse of the European constitution project at the November Rome summit and the imminent admission of ten new members has focused minds in Paris and Berlin.

The World Today Updated 16 October 2020 Published 1 April 2004 6 minute READ

Klaus Larres

Professor of International Relations and Foreign Policy, Royal Holloway, University of London

Regular Franco-German meetings developed in the early years of the European Economic Community in the 1950s, but Britain’s presence in Europe’s most exclusive club is a more recent development.

The new closeness goes back to October 2001 when the three leaders attempted to coordinate their response to the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Most other European Union (EU) member states were not amused. They gatecrashed a Downing Street dinner the following month which British Prime Minister Tony Blair intended for his two leadership partners. Italy, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands angrily insisted on being invited.

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