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Britain's Foreign Policy

Britain, Europe and the World Rethinking the UK’s Circles of Influence

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Thursday, October 15, 2015
Abstract in English: 
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.

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