Britain, Europe and the World Rethinking the UK’s Circles of Influence
The British government’s approach since 2010 of seeking to enhance the UK's relations with the world’s emerging powers while balancing these with relationships with the United States and Europe has had only limited success. With constrained resources, and in the face of intense global economic competition, mounting security challenges and decaying international institutions, trying to commit the UK equally on all three fronts will not succeed in the future.
This paper calls for a different mindset and strategy towards the UK’s place in the world – one in which Britain is surrounded by three concentric circles of influence:
- The first or ‘inner circle’ is the EU, the region with which the UK’s relationships need to be strongest and most active.
- The ‘second circle’ consists of the protective and enabling set of economic and security relationships with the US.
- Finally, an ‘outer circle’ comprises the UK’s other key bilateral and institutional relationships.
ORBIS is powered by ESPAS, the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System, a unique inter-institutional project aimed at strengthening the EU's efforts in the crucial area of forward planning. ESPAS brings together the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Secretariat General of the Council of the European Union and the European External Action Service to strengthen the Union's collective administrative capacity to identify and analyse the key trends and challenges, and the resulting policy choices, which are likely to confront Europe and the wider world in the decades ahead.