Influence of British Political Identity on the United Kingdom’s Participation in European Integration Projects

Ministry of Science and Higher Education Research Grant No. N N116 434237, Chair of European Studies, Faculty of Journalism and Political Science, University of Warsaw


Project duration: October 2009–October 2012


Project manager: Dr Przemysław Biskup (Institute of European Studies, University of Warsaw)


The research project on the Influence of British Political Identity on United Kingdom’s Participation in European Integration Projects was devoted to analysis of the attitude of the United Kingdom to the process of European integration from a point of view of the British political identity and the permanent British commitment, on one hand, into international relations in the continent of Europe; and, on the other hand, into the politics of the historical Empire and the present Commonwealth.

The purpose of the research was to prove that the UK’s attitude to the projet européen is a result of well-thought-out choices, conditioned by careful analysis of the Britain’s international situation in the 20th century as well as its specific political identity, which has been shaped at least since the Glorious Revolution and the Acts of Union. The British political identity may be defined as a combination of such elements as combination of English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish culture-and-language-oriented national identity with the UK-wide polity-oriented nationalism; insular isolationism; reformist and evolutionary character of its political system; parliamentary character of sovereignty and governments; considerable socio-political stability combined with considerable flexibility of the social structure; as well as the international experience connected with functioning of the colonial Empire and its later conversion into the Commonwealth.

The research was aimed at improving the understanding of influence of the political identity on functioning of the European Union - on the example of the United Kingdom as a state which at first refused to participate in creation of the European Communities and next was the subject of their first enlargement (bitterly succeeding only at the third attempt). The project had innovative character, since studies in the problem of the British political identity and its influence on the European integration are relatively rare even in the British literature.

The principal research method was the system analysis. The following methods was used in support: comparative method (in order to compare the perception of key elements of national European integration policies in the UK and elsewhere) as well as quantitative and qualitative methods (for analysing relevant data).

The research was based on official documentation of the British government and other public institutions, as well as political parties and other actors participating in shaping UK’s European policies. Literature of the subject was also analysed, as well as other written sources, such as diaries and the press.