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Abstract

During the 1990s, observers from various backgrounds began to point to a resurgence of ‘national interests’ in the public statements of European political leaders. This resulted in speculation about a possible paradigm shift in attitudes towards the European project and the mechanisms underlying the European Union (EU). In particular, analysts and witnesses of European politics feared the undermining of a culture of consensus1 which had carried the European project throughout the Cold War years.2 Concerns about a ‘Thatcherisation’ of European politics grew as discourses of ‘national interest’ appeared not only in member states known for their caution towards the European Union like Britain, but also in France and Germany where even apparently convinced Europeans such as Joschka Fischer began to draw on the notion of ‘national interest’.3 Especially in Germany, where Helmut Kohl was leaving the Chancellorship after 16 years in office, renewed emphasis on ‘national interests’ combined with the uncertainties of generational transition to amplify concerns about the country’s post-Cold War European and international role.4

Keywords

European Union Member State National Interest European Council Common Agricultural Policy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Torreblanca, J., ‘Accommodating Interests and Principles in the European Union: The Case of Eastern Enlargement’, in Sjursen, H. (ed.), Enlargement and the Finality of the EU, Oslo, ARENA Report No 7, 2002, p. 20.Google Scholar
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    To quote but a few examples, Jean-Louis Quermonne, a professor of political science and founding member of Notre Europe, a think tank established under the impulsion of Jacques Delors to promote closer Union between the people of Europe, complained that the European Council increasingly resembled a diplomatic conference confronting the member states’ ‘national interests’ (Quermonne, J.-L., L’Europe en quête de légitimité, Paris, Presses de Science Po, 2001, p. 61); Luxembourg’s long-standing Prime Minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, observed following the Brussels European Council meeting of December 2003 which failed to agree on the Draft Constitutional Treaty that ‘the national interest seems more important than the European interest’ (‘L’Europe empêtrée dans les crises’, Bruxelles, Agence France Presse, 26.12.2003); Henri de Bresson, Le Monde’s Europe correspondent, wrote in June 2003 that Germany’s and France’s post-Nice reconciliation ‘conveyed the feeling that the two countries were trying to align their power political interests rather than to propose a true project for the future of the European Union open to as many as possible’ (de Bresson, H., ‘Commentaire: Un défi pour Paris et Berlin’, Le Monde, 6.6.2003, p. 6); to quote a last example, The Economist, also in June 2003, derided ‘what could be more Anglo-chauvinist than a prime minister who constantly frames his vision of Euro membership and European integration in terms of Britain’s “winning argument”?’ (‘Britain and the Euro, Can They be serious?’, The Economist, 14.6.2003).Google Scholar
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© Katrin Milzow 2012

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