Where Is Britain? The UK, the EU, and the United States?

This week’s podcast is an edited recording of an April 7, 2005 lecture by Sir Stephen Wall, former advisor to Cardinal Murphy O’Connor, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, and to Tony Blair, on Britain’s changing relationships with the EU and the United States. The discussion aired on WBUR’s World of Ideas program on May 29, 2005. We are grateful to WBUR for making the recording available to EU for You.

According to Wall, “Britain finds itself torn more than in the past between the United States whose closest friend it wants to be and its European partners with whom its interests most closely align.” A strong supporter of the EU, which he called the most important political development” of his lifetime, he argued that Britain’s future lies with Europe. Over British and French fears of loss of national sovereignty, he stressed the importance of supranational institutions able to manage “the querulous relationship between countries that remain fiercely nationalistic” and at the same time “capable of harnessing the shared value systems and economic interests of the member states and creating value added for the membership of the Union as a whole.” Referring to the pending referenda on the EU constitutional treaty, he concluded, “Unless Blair, Chirac and Schroeder, and the other governments of Europe, can rediscover and champion the supranational vision of Europe we will not carry conviction with our publics or maintain our coherence and momentum. And we will be a querulous partner of the United States, not an effective one.” Responding to Sir Stephen was Stanley Hoffmann, Paul and Catherine Buttenwieser University Professor at Harvard University. Professor Hoffmann shared Sir Stephen’s hopes that the constitutional treaty would be ratified in both France and Britain, noting that both countries had taken an unnecessary risk in putting the treaty to a vote.

Sir Stephen Wall’s book, A Stranger in Europe, was published in 2008.

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