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In this particular case, there was a limited appreciation of the political will and community of interests propelling the Messina initiative. The failure of the EDC plan was a misleading guide to the future. In fact, the removal of this issue allowed the Six to return to the process of economic integration at the centre of the Schuman Plan as a means towards political ends.

Furthermore, there was a failure to appreciate that France and West Germany might eventually forge an agreement, especially if France was able to negotiate satisfactory concessions in return for agreeing to join a common market. Opinion about European unity on the British side was also coloured by a deeply pessimistic view of the condition of the mainland European states.

This specific ISBN edition is currently not available. View all copies of this ISBN edition:. Key questions addressed include: Why has Europe had such an explosive impact on British politics?

On the day the UK was supposed to leave the EU - how did we get into it in the first place?

What impelled British policymakers to join the European Community and to undertake one of the radical, if not the most radical, changes in modern British history? What have been the perceived advantages and disadvantages of British membership of the European Union? Why has British membership of the European Union rarely attracted a national consensus? Review : 'Anyone wishing to understand the historical background to current political and economic issues relating to the European Union cannot do better than start with this clear and accessible account.

Buy New Learn more about this copy. Other Popular Editions of the Same Title. Search for all books with this author and title. Customers who bought this item also bought. Stock Image. Seller Rating:. Britain and European Integration since David Gowland. Published by Routledge New Quantity Available: 5. Chiron Media Wallingford, United Kingdom.

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Published by Routledge. But such reservations were swept aside by two main factors. First, electoral considerations entered into play. Another election appeared imminent and was eventually held in October In these circumstances, Labour was quite prepared to capitalize on any suggestion of Conservative willingness to surrender national sovereignty and the Conservative leadership recognized the dangers of being portrayed as the party prepared to do so.

Second, international conditions completely overshadowed the Schuman Plan in importance following the outbreak of the Korean War on the day before Parliament debated the plan.

The pamphlet stridently opposed the prospect of Britain being corralled into a European supranational authority with a permanent anti-socialist majority. Some accounts of this episode have charged the Labour government with a short-sighted, ill-considered view of the possibilities. In conclusion, there was no compelling imperative for the Labour government to enter into negotiations on French terms. More precisely from a British perspective, the merits of intergovernmental cooperation, the weaknesses of idealistic schemes for European federation, the desirable balance between European and extra-European interests, and the restricted economic interest in Western Europe, all demonstrated the meaning of the concept of limited liability.

Certainly, there was a Limited liability, —55 35 basic miscalculation in Whitehall about the prospects for the original plan. This initiative was taken by a meeting of the foreign ministers of the Six at Messina 1—2 June on the basis of a Benelux memorandum containing both a general plan for a common European market and particular schemes for applying the ECSC model of sector integration to communications and power including nuclear power. Britain was invited to participate in this exercise without any of the preconditions that had been attached to the Schuman Plan.

From the outset, however, there was no great expectation among the Six that Britain was likely to join any new organization. There was no British representation at Messina. This view of mainland European travel was widely shared in the country at large.

The English football governing authorities at this time, for example, barred English clubs from the newly-created April European Cup competition on the grounds that they would not arrive back from the continent in time to play Saturday matches. The reactions of British policymakers were shaped by the prevailing view that Britain was still one of the three great powers in the world and occupied a pivotal position in the interlocking circles of Europe, the Commonwealth and North America.

It also provided the British government with an opportunity to reassert its leadership in Western Europe.

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This organization operated in accordance with British wishes on the principle of intergovernmental cooperation. Britain appeared to be back in the driving seat of European cooperation. The failure of the EDC project undoubtedly strengthened the British impression that the Six were unlikely to embark upon or to succeed in more adventurous schemes for integration.

This view owed much to British perceptions of French and West German attitudes. Some of the initial impressions of policymakers were rooted in a tendency to perceive what they wanted or expected to perceive. In this particular case, there was a limited appreciation of the political will and community of interests propelling the Messina initiative.

The failure of the EDC plan was a misleading guide to the future. In fact, the removal of this issue allowed the Six to return to the process of economic integration at the centre of the Schuman Plan as a means towards political ends. Furthermore, there was a failure to appreciate that France and West Germany might eventually forge an agreement, especially if France was able to negotiate satisfactory concessions in return for agreeing to join a common market.

The initial formal British response to the Messina initiative amounted to a holding operation, governed by the view that Britain should associate with the Six but avoid positive commitment to any schemes that might emerge from the Spaak committee. It was on this basis that Russell Bretherton, an 38 Limited liability, —55 Under-Secretary at the Board of Trade, participated in the Spaak committee during the period July—November By the end of this period, the committee clearly favoured the formation of two new communities, an atomic energy community and a common market with a customs union as its centrepiece, in preference to the idea of a free trade area.

For example, it was acknowledged that the imperial preference system was declining in importance. A telling consideration against this latter possibility was the fact that the value of British trade with the Commonwealth was approximately double the value of that with the Six. In fact, the volume of British trade with the rest of the Commonwealth had peaked in the early s as the early post-war conditions encouraging such trade, most notably sterling inconvertibility, the dollar shortage and the absence of Germany and Japan from international markets, were far less evident by the later s.

In the event, the stock argument about the political value of the Commonwealth carried all before it, especially when contrasted with mainland Europe. To some extent, therefore, there were some traces of groupthink at work, not least, for example, in failing to reappraise initially rejected alternatives and in working out contingency plans.

The principal concerns of government economic policy throughout the s — the balance of payments and the status of sterling — were viewed in a global rather than a European context. Butler, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was an intransigent opponent of any shift in policy. He detected little unity among the Six and saw no merit at all in their plans. A strong inclination to avoid taking such an irreversible decision was to be a recurring feature of British policy towards the process of European integration.

Mainland European politicians, and especially the so-called godfathers of the EC like Monnet and Schuman, well-appreciated this British position at the time. The often repeated claim of British leaders at the time that the mainland European states were eagerly awaiting, needed or required British leadership was based on a mixture of arrogance, ignorance and delusion.

Equally indisputable is the view that the new movement towards European integration following the Messina conference had far more serious and lasting consequences for the British than their earlier aloofness from the Schuman Plan. Furthermore, the Limited liability, —55 41 British absence from the negotiations allowed the Six to shape the EEC in accordance with their own requirements and with understandably no regard at all for British interests.

At the same time the British idea of association with the Six became so increasingly outmoded and ultimately unsuccessful that it forced a major reappraisal and eventually a reversal of British policy towards the EEC. It may even bankrupt us.


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The failure of this attempt and also of the second application by the Wilson Labour government of —70 was followed by the third and successful application undertaken by the Heath Conservative government of — This chapter focuses on the diminishing appeal of alternatives to EEC membership under both the Conservative and Labour governments. It examines the reappraisal of British policy towards the EEC including the assumptions, expectations and actual policies pursued by the government of the day and the particular reasons for seeking membership.

It also highlights some of the features of the successful application for membership that were to leave a lasting legacy.

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ISBN 13: 9780415322126

Three common expressions may be said to capture the change of mood among those political leaders who came to espouse the idea of British membership of the EEC over the period — In the longer run, such a prospect presented the threat of a narrow, regional, German-dominated power bloc. However, it was also reckoned to be the case that the collapse of the common market project would have dire consequences.

It would weaken west European unity, resulting in an isolationist France and German revanchiste adventures in Eastern Europe. It would divide the western alliance and possibly realize the worst security fears of the British in the form of the withdrawal of the US from Europe, while also leaving Britain exposed to European and US criticism for jeopardizing the project.

How to overcome this dilemma was one of the main problems confronting policymakers over the next few years.

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The opening period —59 was to demonstrate how this dilemma could not be resolved by pursuing the policy of association between Britain and the Six which, as noted earlier, was established at the time of the Schuman Plan. It is important to emphasize several general points before tracing the rise and fall of a British proposal for a European free trade area FTA during this period.

First, the political landscape of European integration underwent rapid change. The Spaak report favouring the creation of a common market was published in March The report was approved by the foreign ministers of the Six in May It was then subjected to intense intergovernmental negotiations in February of the following year resulting in the Treaties of Rome March The EEC was designed to form a common market with free movement of goods, capital, labour and services.