The making of the Single European Act : the United Kingdom and the European Community, 1979-1986
This thesis is a contemporary history of one episode in the United Kingdom's experience of the European Community (EC). It charts the making of the Single European Act (SEA) from its early 1980s' origins, through the bargaining process of the Dooge Committee and 1985 intergovernmental conference (IGC), to the SEA itself. By studying the origins of a specific treaty, the thesis analyses the impact of EC membership on one west European nation state and places the historical episode in its wider context. The historical method is appropriate for studying these events despite the contemporary nature of the period. Detailed, empirical analysis of the episode reveals most fully the complexities of the process of European integration as this member state experienced it. But the thesis also draws on academic disciplines beyond the faculty of history: these include comparative politics, economics, international relations, European law and international political economy. The study of the SEA enters their various internal debates, especially over the nature of the state and international system (chapter one), but keeps its historical approach. The thesis addresses the making of the Single European Act by asking two questions. First (chapters two, three and four), why did the United Kingdom agree to formal reform of the EC and ultimately the 1985 intergovernmental conference? Second, once the conference had opened (chapters five and six), why did the Single European Act take the specific form that it did, despite the United Kingdom's efforts? Answers to these two questions confirm elements of the two competing theories on integration; neo functionalism and neo-Realism. The answers also demonstrate that neither theory can fully explain all that happened, when it happened or why. One reason is that two distinct processes were at work: theory to date had not distinguished them, but close empirical analysis revealed their important differences. The first proces was informal, economic integration which usually took place among societal actors. This underpinned and informed the British Government's policy preferences. The second was formal integration, state-led codification through bargaining which (surprisingly) did not follow the premises of the latest theoretical endeavour, 'intergovernmental institutionalism'. The distinction between the two processes and the actors they involved, and also their interrelationship are among the thesis's contributions to the theoretical debate.