From the EC to the EU. Ready or Not


  • Mark Gilbert C. Grove Haines Professor of History and International Studies, SAIS Europe, Bologna, Italy



European integration, Italy, United Kingdom, Euroscepticism, Brexit


This article argues that the cases of Italy and the UK suggest that European integration is a contested process and certainly not one that inevitably brings good results. It requires complex national realities to adapt themselves to norms decided collectively at elite level. In hindsight (but not only in hindsight), the UK’s political culture, and Italy’s political-institutional system, were radically unprepared for the shock of accelerating integration in the 1990s and 2000s.


Brunazzo, Marco, and Mark Gilbert. “Insurgents Against Brussels: Euroscepticism and the right-wing populist turn of the Lega Nord since 2013.” Journal of Modern Italian Studies 22 (2017): 624–41.

Butterfield, Herbert. The Whig Interpretation of History. London: Bell, 1931; Pelican, 1973.

Corthorn, Paul. Enoch Powell. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2022.

Daddow, Oliver. “The UK Media and ‘Europe’: From permissive consensus to destructive dissent.” International Affairs 88, no. 6 (2012): 1219–36.

European Integration. A Political History. Rowman & Littlefield, 2020.

Frosini, Justin, and Mark Gilbert. “The Brexit Car-crash: Using E.H. Carr to Explain Britain’s Choice to Leave the European Union in 2016.” Journal of European Public Policy 27 (2020): 761–78.

Gilbert, Mark. “A Shift in Mood: The 1992 Initiative and Changing U.S. Perceptions of the European Community, 1988–1989.” In European Integration and the Atlantic Community, eds. Kiran Klaus Patel and Ken Weisbrode, 243–64. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

Gilbert, Mark. “Historicizing European Integration History.” European Review of International Studies 8 (2021): 221–40.

Gilbert, Mark. “Italy Enjoys a Political Lull, but Storm Clouds are Gathering.” World Politics Review, 14 July 2016.

Gilbert, Mark. “Kampf um Rom.” Internationale Politik 75, September 2020: 102–7.

Gilbert, Mark. “Narrating the Process: Questioning the Progressive Story of European Integration.” Journal of Common Market Studies 46, no. 3 (2008): 641–62.

Hicks, Kevin, and Jasper Miles. “Social Democratic Euroscepticism: Britain’s Neglected Tradition.” British Journal of Politics and International Relations 20, no. 4 (2018).

John Major: The Autobiography. London: HarperCollins, 1999.

Jones, Erik. ‘Italy and Europe: From Competence to Solidarity to Competence.’ Contemporary Italian Politics 13, no. 2 (2021): 196–209.

Olesen, Thorsten B. “Danish Euroscepticism and its Changing Faces / Phases, 1945–2018.” In Euroscepticisms: The Historical Roots of a Political Challenge, eds. Mark Gilbert and Daniele Pasquinucci, 140–63. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2020.

Pasquinucci, Daniele. Il frutto avvelenato: il vincolo europeo e la critica all'Europa. Milan: Mondadori / Le Monnier, 2022.

Patel, Kirian Klaus. Project Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020.

Startin, Nicholas. “Have We Reached a Tipping Point? The Mainstreaming of Euroscepticism in the UK.” International Political Science Review 36, no. 3 (2015).

Szczerbiak, Aleks and Paul Taggart. “The Party Politics of Euroscepticism in EU member and Candidate States.” Sussex European Institute, 2003.