Philip Oltermann in the Grauniad talks about the failure of British diplomacy in Berlin:
The Netherlands, rather than Germany, should be the country for Britain to emulate in this respect. In Holland, as in the UK, eastern Europeans are usually not recruited directly by local employers, but often via rogue employment agencies who provide little security and support for workers when their contracts terminate. Since 2009, Dutch and Polish authorities have been cooperating closely to try to licence such agencies in order to stop Poles from getting stranded in unemployment.
In Berlin, I heard countless British diplomats moan about their government’s tendency to put all its eggs in one basket in order to win the big prize, while other countries were more willing to accept that EU diplomacy is a constant give and take. In fact, all Britain needs to do is to remind itself of a simple traditional British virtue: teamwork.
I’d say the UK’s problem of engagement with Europe is twofold. First, there’s still the inflated sense of self importance getting in the way. Unlike even France and Germany, Britain has never really had to had to deal with other countries as equal in Europe and so sucks at it. Second, and more importantly, there are the domestic political realities getting in the way of proper diplomacy. Even under Labour it was often politically inconvenient to genuinely engage with Europe, let alone under a coalition government at least half of which doesn’t believe in Europe.