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date: 16 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

European integration has from the outset been a controversial and contested process. Inevitably this has meant that in the course of its half century of existence, the European Community/EU has encountered national leaders who have expressed hostility towards it and who have challenged important aspects of its institutions and/or policies. Of such leaders none have been more famous – or notorious in the eyes of pro-European policy makers – than Charles de Gaulle, the president of France from 1958 to 1969, and Margaret Thatcher, British prime minister between 1979 and 1990. Both had strong views on the integration process that differed significantly from those of their fellow European leaders. Both came from large member states, and might, as such, have been expected to have had significant influence over the course of the European Community's development. Neither was shy about voicing their opinions. And both were in power during periods when the European Community was undergoing particularly rapid transformation, and was hence at the centre of political attention. This article investigates how much impact each of them had, and the manner in which the European Community responded, in order to shed light on how the European Community/EU is equipped to cope with vociferous internal dissent.

Keywords: European integration, Charles de Gaulle, Margaret Thatcher, European Community, EU

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