The British Exception: myth or reality?

The British Exception: myth or reality? was a series of conferences in 2008 and 2009, culminating in a book, examining the claim sometimes made by commentators that the United Kingdom is intrinsically different in its interests and structures to the other member states of the European Union. The general conclusion of the project is that this claim is at least overstated and in many cases incorrect.

OddManOut?The book based on the series of conferences “Odd man out?” is available for £6.99 from the Federal Trust. If you would like to buy a copy of the book, please e-mail to [email protected] You will find below a list of the conferences, together with links to reports on their contents.

image_1298740233This project has been co-funded by the European Commission Representation in the United Kingdom.


Podcasts of the speeches held at each of the below events can be watched on the website of our partner institute The Global Policy Institute.

The Single Market Review – Is the single market a good deal for British business?

20th May 2009

Conference Report


  • Arthur Forbes, DG Internal Market and Services, European Commission, “The Single Market – Work in Progress”
  • Graham Bishop,, “The European Financial Market – Triumph or Disappointment?”
  • John Cooke, former STI official and Federal Trust Council Member, “Has Britain got what it wanted out of the single market?”
  • Zaki Cooper, Director, Business for New Europe, “A View from British Business”

The EU and Immigration – Can Britain pull up the drawbridge?

8 May 2009

Conference Report


  • Agnieszka Weinar, DG Justice, Freedom and Security, European Commission “Can Europe pull up the drawbridge?”
  • Dr Eiko Thielemann, London School of Economics, “Is the British view of immigration exceptional in Europe?”
  • Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex, “Is Britain trying to pull up the drawbridge?”
  • Brendan Donnelly, Director, The Federal Trust, Conclusions

The EU Budget Review – Does Britain Need its Rebate?

20 March 2009

Conference Report


  • Stefan Lehner, Director, Own Resources, Evaluation and Financial Programming DG Budget, European Commission, “The EU Budget: A view from Brussels”
  • Roger Liddle, Vice-Chair, Policy Network, “The EU Budget: A view from London”
  • Dr Robert Ackrill, Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University, “Is a rational EU Budget possible?”
  • Brendan Donnelly, Director, The Federal Trust, Conclusions

Europe’s Role in the World – A British Decision between Atlanticism and Europe?

24 February 2009


  • Helen Campbell, European Correspondent, Head of Unit A1, External Relations Directorate General, European Commission, “Is the EU fiddling while the world burns?”
  • Prof Richard Whitman, Professor of Politics, University of Bath, “The EU: What kind of actor on the world stage?”
  • Prof Stephen Haseler, Director, Global Policy Institute, “A world in crisis – An opportunity for the EU?”

SOCIAL REALITY STOCKTAKING – Social Models: British, European, or not that different?

16 December 2008

Conference Report


  • FREDERIC LERAIS, Bureau of European Policy Advisers, European Commission, “Europe’s Social Reality: A ‘Stocktaking'”
  • JORMA KARPPINEN, Director, European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, “Social Realities in Europe – A comparative view”
  • HENNING MEYER, Head of the European Programme, The Global Policy Institute , “A European Social Model – Myth or Reality?”
  • NEAL LAWSON, Chairman, Compass , “The British Social Model in the European Context”
  • WILL HUTTON, Chief Executive, The Work Foundation , “Will the global crisis change everyone’s social model?”

THE LISBON TREATY – Opt-Ins and Opt-Outs: Is Britain Semi-Detached from the EU?

7th November 2008

Conference Report


  • RICHARD CORBETT MEP, Deputy Leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party and spokesman on constitutional affairs, “The Lisbon Treaty: Where we are and where we might be going”
  • SIR STEPHEN WALL, former European adviser to the British Prime MInister and Chairman of the Federal Trust, “Does Britain need the Lisbon Treaty?”
  • BRENDAN DONNELLY, Director, The Federal Trust, “Are there alternatives to the Lisbon Treaty?”

Energy and Climate Change – Is the UK an Environmental Champion?

18 September 2008

Conference Report


  • LORD GIDDENS, Emeritus Professor, London School of Economics, “The Politics of Climate Change”
  • JÜRGEN SALAY, Policy Officer, Unit ‘Climate strategy, international negotiation and monitoring of EU action’, DG Environment, European Commission, “An Environmental View of the UK from Brussels”
  • PETER LUFF, Director, Action for a Global Climate Community, “Britain: A European Driving Force for Global Environmental Policy?”

This project has been co-funded by the European Commission Representation in United Kingdom.