This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement no. 658375.
The eurozone crisis, the resurgence of the ‘British question’ and the recent wave of mass immigration have all served to reignite Europe-wide debate over the types and degree of integration pursued by European states. Within the EU, clear divisions are now visible between those who favour a more entrenched political union and those who are critical of the ‘Community method’ and instead advocate a looser form of cooperation.
Such debates have crystallised attention on experiments with alternative intergovernmental models of European integration, the most notable of which is EFTA, a free trade and economic area currently comprising Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Although smaller now, EFTA emerged in the 1960s as the predominan ‘other’ in postwar European politics.
Today, there are those – especially in Britain – who have suggested EFTA should serve as a replacement for EU membership. Others, meanwhile, harken to the intergovernmental ‘simpler’ ways of EFTA cooperation and envision returning (if it ever were) the EU to a more free trade relationship. However, we still know little about how and why EFTA developed in the way it did, its institutional and policymaking structure, its role in the integration process or the lessons these aspects could carry today.
The aim of my Marie Curie fellowship is therefore to provide a comphrensive study of EFTA, its history and its impact on European integration, from its origins until today.
Below you will find a selection of the findings and research arising from the project, including transcript of talks, newspaper articles and media publications, conference papers and academic outputs.
- Article on Britain and the EU appears in Turun Sanomat (25 February 2016) [click here for English language version]
- Paper presented to the Politics seminar, Department of Philosophy, Political Science and Contemporary History, University of Turku, on the topic of EFTA and the study of international organisations from a historical perspective
- The Department of Philosophy, Political Science and Contemporary History is delighted to host a ‘diplomacy series’, with Her Excellency Sarah Price, HM Ambassador to Finland, and Son Excellence Serge Mostura, Ambassadeur de France en Finlande. For more details please click here for the poster. The picture above is me introducing Her Excellency Sarah Price, HM Ambassador to Finland. The talk was made possible through my Marie Curie grant
- A series of reports for the Finnish Foreign Ministry based on my research about British European policy available here
- My article on Anglo-Nordic relations in the late 1960s was published in Contemporary European History during my time at Turku. You can read the article here
- I was part of the selection committee for a postdoctoral fellowship in the Contemporary History unit, University of Turku
- MSCA ambassador and archival research during residence at the the headquarters of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), Geneva
- I presented at Christianshavns Gymnasium school, Copenhgen, on Britain, EFTA and the EU referendum
- Offered a teaching presentation called ‘Brexit, the EU and EFTA’ for the Opening Sessions of the History and Politics of European Integration programme, University of Turku
- Presented papers at various conferences and workshops across Europe, in addition to organising a 2-day international conference here in Finland.
To give you a flavour of some of the findings uncovered as part of this project, here are two abstracts for journal articles written by the Fellow. These have been self-archived here under Green Open Access rules.
The 1950s were a turning point in British European policy during which the country moved from passive bystander to prospective member of the European Economic Community (EEC). Existing scholarship, though, depicts the opposition Labour Party as choosing largely to ignore this shift. This article by contrast shows that at various levels Labour did systematically talk about the vexed question of Britain’s European future. Indeed, a critical mass of the Party quickly recognised the necessity of a closer relationship with the EEC, supported membership of the Free Trade Area (FTA) as the best institutional forum for this undertaking and, following its collapse, sought with some energy to prevent the ensuing economic and political division of Western Europe through the separate creation of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). In revealing Labour policy as more nuanced and measured, the article aims ultimately to promote the 1950s as a far more crucial component in the broader story of how the Party grappled with closer cooperation among European states.
Achieving peace through trade liberalisation: Tracing the development of EFTA as a Cold War actor, c.1960–1980
At its core, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) was an economic free trade grouping. Yet to view the organisation purely in this manner ignores the way its member states sought to use EFTA’s rather modest trade liberalisation remit to achieve far loftier politico-strategic aims during the Cold War. At its inception, this meant possibly expanding EFTA’s geographic reach to undermine the Soviet Union, secure favour from the United States and in the process bolster EFTA’s international prestige. Later, financial and technical support for post-revolution Portugal was pivotal to securing democracy in one of the Association’s own members. And the decision to help foster Western-style democracy via trade and commercial links with the Eastern bloc in the 1980s confirmed EFTA’s status as a hitherto little known Cold War actor. The article is based on newly released material from EFTA’s own records held in Geneva and Florence and the national archives of several former members.