Coalition in Britain – Coalitions in Europe? An Analysis of the UK’s European Policy

by Shane Fitzgerald

The IIEA has launched a new report by policy analyst Shane FitzgeraldCoalition in Britain – Coalitions in Europe? An Analysis of the UK’s European Policy builds on the ongoing research of the IIEA’s UK Group, which is chaired by Dr. Garret FitzGerald and led by Dr. Paul Gillespie.

The formation of a coalition government by the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats coincides with a moment of deep crisis for the European Union. This report investigates the extent to which this confluence of events could facilitate a new British policy  on Europe and contribute to a reconfiguration of European politics. It does so by first analysing the compromises of the coalition deal and then placing these in the context of tensions that are likely to emerge in the UK-EU relationship over the next five years.

Key topics addressed include:

·      The Coalition Deal on Europe

·      Economic Governance and Banking Supervision

·      CAP Reform and the Budget Rebate

·      Britain and the Euro

·      A Distinctive British Foreign Policy?

·      The European External Action Service

·      The UK in the European Parliament

·      Differentiated Integration – Coalition Europe?


For more information please contact the author at: +353 (0)1 874 6756 /



The IIEA UK policy project group is dedicated to analysing the UK’s policy towards the EU and its implications for Ireland, Britain and Europe. The group, chaired by the former Taoiseach, Dr. Garret FitzGerald, and led by Dr. Paul Gillespie, has so far published two major reports in the form of the books Britain’s European Question (1996) and Blair’s Britain, England’s Europe (2000).

In 2009, the group focused on the European policies of the Conservative Party under David Cameron. Group members travelled to the UK in the summer of that year and engaged in a series of meetings and interviews with members of parliament, peers and shadow cabinet ministers, as well as with senior officials, journalists, think tank directors and policy analysts. The conclusions of this delegation, updated in light of subsequent events, were published in November 2009 in an interim assessment,David Cameron’s European Strategy.

The IIEA also invited a number of British experts to Dublin. Lord William WallaceDamian Green MP and Professor Robert Hazell delivered keynote addresses before the May 2010 election. Lord Andrew TurnbullProfessor Simon Hix and Lord Nigel Lawson visited the Institute soon after to share their analyses of the result and to lead discussions on the challenges which the UK’s coalition government now faces. On 30 June, the new Minister for Europe, David Lidington MP, delivered a keynote address on UK Policy in Europe and met members of the group. Conversations with all these experts provided invaluable material for this report.