What’s in a phrase? The United Kingdom and Ever Closer Union


In recent times, the phrase “ever closer union” has become a pivotal part of the British Eurosceptic argument against the UK’s continued membership of the European Union. The sentiment was even reflected in David Cameron’s EU reform agenda, in which he asked for Britain’s obligation to work towards an ever closer union to be ended, and to do this in a “formal, legally-binding and irreversible way.”

But the phrase, as expressed in the Treaties, is by its nature ambiguous and open to interpretation: for some, it is critical to an understanding of the nature of European integration; for others, little more than a ‘straw man’. In this new paper, IIEA Senior Fellow, Tony Brown, examines the origins and development of “ever closer union”, from the post-war period to the present day.