Research

My research interests cover contemporary British and European history, including European integration, diplomacy, Anglo-Nordic relations and (British) foreign policy.

 

The past

My first monograph with LUP focused on the interplay between the domestic and transnational dimensions of the foreign policy-making of state and non-state actors. In particular, I examined how through transnational relations and informal political backchannels British and Danish actors responded to the European integration process and Cold War environment amid the complex web of national interests and international restraints.

The book itself, which built upon my doctoral thesis, covered the period between 1958 and 1972. In 1958, Britain and Denmark both advocated closer European cooperation through the looser framework of the Free Trade Area (FTA) rather than membership of the nascent European Economic Community (EEC). By the latter date, however, the situation had changed drastically. The FTA was a long-forgotten concept. Its replacement, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), seemed economically and politically inept. Now, at the third time of asking, both countries were on the verge of joining the EEC as full members.

The book offers a unique comparison of how the European policies of the British Labour Party and the Danish Social Democrats evolved amid this environment. Based on material from 12 archives in four countries, it updates our knowledge of key moments in both parties’ interaction with the integration story, including in the formative stages of the EEC in 1958–60 and the negotiations for British and Danish EEC membership in 1961–63, 1967 and 1970–72.

More innovatively I think, my book argues that amid an array of national and international constraints the reciprocal influence exerted by Labour and the SD on each other via informal party contacts was itself a crucial determinant in European policymaking. In so doing, it sheds an exciting light on the sources of Labour European thinking, the role of small states like Denmark in the integration process, and the prominence of the Anglo-Scandinavian nexus in the broader narrative of British foreign policy in this period.

 

The current and future

My new project builds on the first by examining the European Free Trade Association, EFTA. Although smaller now, EFTA emerged in the 1960s as the predominant ‘other’ in postwar European politics. Ten former members are now EU states, while EFTA long hoped to rival the EC. However, we still know little about how and why EFTA developed in the way it did, its institutional and policy- making structure, its role in the integration process or the lessons these aspects could carry for the present-day EU. The project aims to comprehend more about how and why EFTA developed in the way it did, its contributions to the European integration process, and how we can use the experiences from the Association’s past to understand better the future of cooperation in Europe.

My research breaks new ground by studying the institutional history of EFTA from its origins in the late 1950s through to the early 1990s. An institutional study of EFTA forces us to consider the extent to which officials and bureaucrats working within international organisations ‘went native’ and prioritised institutional rather than national interests; how diplomats crossed borders and interacted with others; how both state and non­state actors converged and competed to shape and influence the direction of EFTA; and EFTA as an important European organisation cooperated and conflicted with other European groupings, in particular the EEC/EU

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