The United Kingdom's Political and Cultural Relations to EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy: An Examination of how a Country's National Identity, History and Cultural Heritage can Affect its Political Relations to the EU

Niclas Møldrup

Student thesis: Master thesis


The objective of the Master thesis is how the United Kingdom’s (UK) national identity and history has affected their political and cultural relations to EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), since 2000, as well as why the country’s history and cultural heritage remains a central part of the British EU-policy re. the creation of a common European identity in a more integrated Europe. The theoretic framework is based on four theories. The two integration theories Intergovernmentalism and Neofunctionalism by Stanley Hoffmann and Ernst B. Haas, as well as Jamie Gaskarths theory Britishness, on how the British national identity affects the UK’s foreign policy, and Matt Beech, Victoria Honeyman and Raymond Plants theory on the British political ideology British Conservatism. Through these theories, the thesis analyzes and explains Britain’s political behavior towards integration within the CFSP versus the country’s self-interests, and relations to the US, NATO and UN. Furthermore, it explains how much of an influence the national identity, ideology, history and cultural heritage has had on the UK’s foreign and security policy, as well as their relations to the EU. Structure wise, the thesis first focus on the historical development in the UK’s political and cultural relations to the EU, the historical and political background for the CFSP, as well as its structure, and the UK’s relations to the US, NATO and UN. The analysis is based on three significant foreign and security policy issues, in which the UK, EU and other international actors has had to take a political stand towards: 1) the Iraq War, 2) the Civil War in Libya and 3) the Ukraine Crisis. All these cases are divided into two approaches; one focusing on which mechanisms affects the different governments and oppositions in the domestic debate in the UK, and the other on how it comes to show in the country’s foreign agenda towards these issues. Thereby, illustrating how the UK prioritize its commitments to CFSP compared to its self-interests, other allies and international collaborators. In addition to the analysis, the thesis discuss what the political outcomes tells about the UK’s loyalty and willingness towards EU’s CFSP, based on the theories used in the analysis. Finally, the study focus on the future possibilities for the CFSP and, if a BREXIT will lead to a further destabilization of a common European policy and identity. It is argued that the UK’s foreign and security political culture is based on a strong regard to self-interests and its relations to the US, NATO and UN rather than the EU. The foundation for these policies is to be seen as a result of the country’s strong national identity, as the founder and protector of democracy, human rights and the international order. Furthermore, it is based on the national idea of ‘British Uniqueness’, which do consider the UK’s role in the world to be more as an international actor rather than a regional actor. Thereby resulting in a loyalty conflict with the CFSP. The thesis also argues that the CFSP has suffered from a severe lack of an ideological common ground, which not only is shown by the UK’s deviation from the common stand on the different issues, but also through especially Germany’s increased influence on EU’s agenda, and an increasing lack of regards to other member states views. Finally, the thesis argues that UK’s national identity and self-perception as a sovereign international protector of western values is incompatible with the ideas behind the CFSPcooperation, based on a united Europe with one voice.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages101