Until now, Italian, French and British attitudes toward the European Union have been completely distinct and predictable.

The Italians have been unconditional, enthusiastic supporters of the integration process — the more the better. The French have reveled in their privileged position at the EU’s heart, and have been determined to hang on to their privileges, starting with the benefits they derive from the Common Agricultural Policy. The British, meanwhile, have always been the classic reluctant member — always late, always unwillingly dragged along in the wake of the front-runners, but seldom offering alternative proposals. Today, however, these stereotypes are breaking down.

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