Volume XLVII – Number 1

Chris Meisel

Abstract: This article argues that the economic and political histories of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom (UK) influence their positions on current economic issues of the European Union (EU). In particular, this paper analyzes each country’s history and policy preferences through two specific economic features of the European Union: the Economic Monetary Union (EMU) and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The EMU is a group of EU states that have a single monetary policy and share the same currency and central bank. Joining the EMU has certain benefits as well as drawbacks. France, Germany, and the UK have each approached the EMU differently based on the previous success or failure of their own monetary policies. France is able to keep its big government in check with the EMU’s strict measures; Germany can control its neighbors’ monetary policy and avoid hyperinflation; and the UK has not joined the EMU because it has a strong monetary policy of its own and does not want to risk losing trade revenue by joining the EMU. Similarly, the three countries have adopted different positions regarding the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). CAP promoted the freedom of movement of agricultural products. German and French support for CAP relates to their acceptance of free trade, and British rejection of the CAP represents Britain’s self-motivated trade policies. Each country’s distinct history influences its economic policy preferences. Due to the large role played by these three countries in the EU, understanding their histories is also key to explaining the EU’s current economic policies.

Key Words: History, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the European Union (EU), the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)

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