To what extent was the Suez crisis pivotal in ensuring British membership of the European Economic Community?
By Tom Arnold (European Studies MA student, 2015)
There can be no doubt that the Suez crisis represents a key moment amongst the historical developments of the 20th century, for both European and global history. The vast array of academic literature available on the subject of the crisis itself is testament to this, amongst which there is a strong consensus that the events and aftermath of Suez were instrumental in forcing Britain’s hand towards a future in Europe. Nevertheless, a number of other factors are also frequently identified as key in prompting this change in Britain’s political direction, and as such the precise magnitude of Suez’s significance in this area remains unclear. This essay examines a range of historical sources and accounts of the crisis and its repercussions in order to arrive at a conclusion as to the extent to which said events influenced the British application for EEC membership. It finds that although the Suez crisis was far from the only factor which led to Britain’s decision to apply, its legacy substantially shaped the dynamics of the subsequent international climate, along with Britain’s relations with the key actors who were influential in the process of British accession.
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