The Treaty of Lisbon, "modifying the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty Establishing the European Community", is currently being ratified in the various member states of the Union and will come into force only when ratified by all of them (theoretically in January 2009). Like France and the Netherlands, which put an end to the Draft European Constitution in 2005, the United Kingdom may, by refusing to ratify the treaty, block its implementation or - another possible interpretation - put itself in a position to leave the Union.
In this column, Jean-François Drevet reminds us of the distinctive position the British have always occupied in Europe, by dint, among other things, of their historical attachment to the United States and their Commonwealth partners. He also stresses the pragmatism of the United Kingdom, which is mindful of the advantage of belonging to the European economic market, though very hostile to any form of extensive integration. Lastly, he shows that it will doubtless be difficult for the United Kingdom to leave the Union while retaining the economic advantages of membership. The British will therefore very probably remain "in Europe", though the Union may not progress politically as much as it otherwise would have done.
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