Why did British Governments seek entry into

Why did British Governments seek entry into the European Community after 1961?

A figure of factors contributed towards Britain’s determination to seek entry into the European Community from 1961 onwards. Britain’s need to set up its function in the post-war World was an of import factor, exacerbated by the diminution of the Commonwealth and its hitherto function as leader of the Empire. Similarly, Britain’s relationship with the US impacted upon its policy devising towards Europe. Domestic political relations besides played a portion in carrying authoritiess that Britain’s hereafter laid within the European Community, with party political relations, brotherhoods and concern involvements all exercising some force per unit area.

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The make up one’s minding factor nevertheless was the economic system. Britain had legged behind many of its European neighbor in economic footings during the 1950s and so in the early old ages of the undermentioned decennary, the economic and trade benefits that the EEC appeared to offer steered the British Government towards actively seeking rank. The EEC, for all its evident success in it early old ages, offered no warrants of economic prosperity, and so subsequent events suggest that there was no great economic benefit for Britain ; it was nevertheless the promise of economic prosperity and the fright of being left behind that that was decisive in the determination to seek rank.

There was a general credence within Government by the terminal of the fiftiess that Britain would hold to at least see closer ties with Europe to better economic chances. In 1959 a Foreign Office Committee had warned that a successful EEC could except Britain from European policy devising and a Cabinet Committee on European Economic Association was formed ( p64 Young 2000 ) , giving a clear indicant as to economic concerns around Europe.

Economic indexs throughout the fiftiess gave some support to those who favoured entry into the European Community at the bend of the decennary. Throughout the 1950s, the mean one-year growing rate in EEC states was 4 per cent against 2.3 per cent in Britain ( the growing rate of the ‘big three – Italy, Germany and France was 5 per cent ) . ( p44 Sanders 1990 ) . British economic policy shapers looked at these consequences and intelligibly were swayed towards EEC rank as a possible solution to hapless economic public presentation. Evidence from the European Coal and Steel Community from the fiftiess besides offered grounds that corporate consequences were stronger than that those of single public presentation ( p43 Sanders 1990 ) and it appeared that “an overvalued lb, inefficient British makers protected from foreign competition, and unnecessarily powerful trade brotherhoods were besides, in their separate ways, lending to Britain’s hapless economic performance” ( p43 Sanders 1990 ) .

British trade was progressively looking towards Europe around this period. From 1955 onwards, British trade with the whole of Western Europe increased well ( p151 Sanders 1990 ) . Britain had signed up to the European Free Trade Association ( EFTA ) , yet with a much smaller population than the EEC it brought few economic advantages to Britain, its biggest member. In the early 1960s trade with the EEC as a whole grew faster than with EFTA members ( p63 Young 2000 ) and from an economic position procuring a trade with the EEC became an progressively attractive option. The Government had small pick but to me influenced by the economic indexs. The EEC offered the alluring economic chance of easier entree to an spread outing market of over 250 million consumers and the hopes that rank would give Britain a stronger bargaining place in dialogue over international trade duty decreases. It is small admiration that “certainly, by the early 1960s, the Macmillan Government was convince that, if the British economic system was non to be farther disadvantaged in the hereafter, Britain would hold to go a full member of the community” ( p46 Sanders 1990 ) . Even after the failed initial application, economic grounds appeared leaden towards a farther application as British economic public presentation continued to stagnate. For the period 1960-70, even the Belgian economic system outperformed the British, with the EEC mean GDP lifting to 4.2 per cent against 2.3 per cent in Britain ( p45 Sanders 1990 ) .

There was besides some encouragement for entry into the EEC from the British banking community, a sector with close traditional links surely to Conservative Government. Many within the fiscal sector “hoped that EEC rank would assist procure British exports to the Six, better the balance of payments state of affairs, brace sterling and, finally, safeguard the hereafter of London as a taking fiscal centre” ( p170 Kaiser ) . The first application in 1961 was expected, if successful, to take to an addition in the assurance of the fiscal markets in the ability of the British Government to undertake the structural economic jobs within a stable model for economic policy doing. From the point of view of Britain’s fiscal establishments, the EEC besides offered the chance of free capital mobility, a greater portion of the capital market and possibly most significantly, a greater political influence within the EEC.

Economic factors were the most influential in specifying British policy towards EEC rank, yet such considerations were mostly based on the desire for a short term addition that would affect an electorate. As George concludes:

“to be certain there was an component of self-interest. In other words, it was the economic public presentation of the six EEC provinces and the impact of the Suez crisis that influenced thought in the Macmillan Government instead than a sudden transition to supranational integrating ( p7 George 1992 ) . There were however, other factors that influenced Government thought.

As Britain sought to explicate its policy towards Europe, its relationship with the US remained an influential issue. In the immediate post-war old ages, the Truman disposal had encouraged Britain to take a prima function in exciting political and economic cooperation in Western Europe and to shore up opposition to Soviet enlargement. This remained the instance at the beginning of the 1960s yet by this clip the US was besides acute to see Britain travel off from its imperial yesteryear and prosecute a chiefly European function in universe personal businesss. As Sanders provinces: “increasingly after 1949, Britain’s integrating into Western Europe was, for the Americans, the natural corollary to Britain’s military function in the European wing of NATO” ( Pp146 Sanders 1990 ) . There is much made of a particular relationship between the two states, yet by the early 1960s, the US was comfortably the dominant spouse. It would mostly order policy to Britain and whilst British Governments would non needfully back up every American policy, there was a gradual credence by Britain that US support would frequently come with a monetary value. Following the US line over entry into the EEC was a policy trade off that the British could accept.

Of class Britain was under no duty to the US and had the freedom to maneuver its ain way in footings of European integrating, yet a trust on US military backup and support for its ain independent atomic hindrance meant that US sentiment had to be taken into history. The military factor was surely of import – British national security relied to a great extent on a continued US committedness to NATO and the presence of US forces based within Western Europe. Any foreign policy moves therefore, had to take into history the possible US response. The atomic issue was as much down to the Government’s demand to portray Britain still as a Great Power as to portion of a echt defense mechanism scheme. As portion of NATO, Britain would hold been afforded US military protection yet wanted the prestigiousness of an independent atomic hindrance but could non afford such without US technological aid.

US influence in footings of British entry into the EEC serves as an illustration ofpractical politics.Having failed to back up the US war in Vietnam, Britain would be hard pushed to warrant the flouting of another preferable United states policy purpose. A closer association for Britain with Europe was the express want of the US disposal and a failure to travel in this way would about surely have undermined Britain’s privileged place as the exclusive abroad receiver of US atomic engineering and so the alleged particular relationship itself between the two states.

There were besides economic factors that impacted on the relationship between Britain, the US and the EEC. Britain’s rank of EFTA had non been looked upon favorably by the US, where it was seen mostly as a prejudiced trade axis, dissentious in European footings and harmful to US exporters ( p63 Young 2000 ) . It is besides likely that the US would hold seen the economic benefits for itself of holding one of its strongest Alliess at the Centre of a powerful economic community.

The US did non coerce the British into the policy of back uping EEC rank, but doubtless its influence will hold played some portion. From the British point of position, EEC rank was an option that was favorable for a figure of grounds but had the added attractive force of being a policy that would delight its powerful ally.

Britain’s Global Position and the Decline of the Commonwealth

The early 1960s was a period in which Britain sought to redefine its function within the planetary community. The post-war old ages had seen a steady in diminution non merely in British economic public presentation but in its place as a taking participant in universe personal businesss. The burgeoning world powers had left Britain behind militarily, the diminution of Empire and the Commonwealth and the post-war recovery of other Western European provinces, including Germany, left Britain short of the influence it had antecedently commanded and a closer relationship with Europe was quickly going an option in footings of security every bit good as trade. The nation’s ego image was enduring as a consequence, with Young proposing “at place there was a turning sense of national unease – of societal divisions, economic failure and loss of purpose” ( p65 Young 2000 ) and hopes of an independent atomic hindrance had besides ended with the cancellation of the Blue Streak missile.

The diminution of the Commonwealth and Britain’s inability to keep a dominant influence over member provinces was a peculiar blow to national pride and to Britain’s belief in its ability to act upon universe personal businesss. Drum sanders suggests that the “further diminution of the Commonwealth as an instrument for keeping British influence inside the old Empire circle” ( p146 Sanders 1990 ) was critical in the move towards Europe and to a big extent this is right. Outstanding new leaders such as Nehru and Nkrumah rapidly made it clear that they had small diplomatic commitment to Britain and so the former leader of an Empire was left to look closer to place for commitments. There was besides an economic consequence from the diminution of the Commonwealth – the Overseas Sterling Area that had given British and Empire states a common economic advantage besides declined, once more supplying an economic drift to the displacement towards the EEC. Besides, in 1961, for the first clip Britain exported more goods to Europe than the Commonwealth ( p71 Young 2000 ) , a clear indicant that Europe would in future grow to be the primary market for British goods.

In kernel, Britain had to reinvent itself in the late fiftiess and early sixtiess as a planetary histrion. Its antecedently comfy place in the universe order was quickly decreasing and entry into the EEC offered security and economic advantages that appealed to a state that intelligibly was get downing to experience vulnerable. Drum sanders suggests that a pragmatism was at the bosom of the determination to seek EEC entry, saying: “in these fortunes, Britain might every bit good merely accept that its principle stuff involvements now lay in the European, instead than the Empire ‘circle’ ; the pressing institutionalisation of its progressively close links with Europe must now be a top priority” ( p150 Sanders 1990 ) . There was besides a assurance within Britain that an entry into Europe would automatically see it take up a prima function within the Community. Whether this came to fruition is problematic, however, this assurance in its ability to exert influence will hold been a positive factor in the determination doing procedure that led to the move towards seeking EEC rank.

Domestic Politicss.

As with any political determination, the influence of force per unit area groups, the positions of the electorate and the machinery of party political relations was a component in traveling political leaders towards a determination to use for entry for the EEC. Even being seen to see it as an option may hold served some political intent, with Kaiser proposing “Macmillan besides seems to hold believed that even a failed application would function a utile party political purpose” ( p168 Kaiser ) , based on the premiss that entry into the EEC in acceptable footings may hold secured triumph for the Conservatives in the following general election.

The feeling domestically by the sixtiess was that there was small pick but to seek entry into the EEC. The economic deductions of rank along with American support and the province of the Commonwealth combined to carry most curates that there was small alternate. Public sentiment could stay volatile on the issue, yet the positions of Britain’s political and economic elite plus those in influential places in the media, banking and industry were that entry into the EEC was favorable. Within those categorised by Macmillan as showing ‘informed opinion’ , 70 per cent were in favor, merely 20 per cent were against and 10 per cent undecided ( p169 Kaiser ) . Even more significantly, the foreign policy elite of politicians, diplomats and international directors provided an even greater bulk in favor of rank. For Macmillan, the political support for EEC rank rapidly grew into a groundswell of sentiment that he could barely disregard.

Media sentiment played a outstanding function in act uponing Macmillan. The Economist had supported British EEC rank since 1958 and the huge bulk of both yellow journalism and circular newspapers were in favor of entry throughout 1960-61 ( p169 Kaiser ) .

The positions of the City will besides hold influenced Conservative Party members and therefore the party leading. Whilst frequently informal, these contacts were showing the position to Conservative MPS in the early sixtiess that there was a demand for a reappraisal of European policy and so Kaiser uses the illustration of seniors figures from Lazard who told senior Conservative politician and functionaries in spring 1961 that “the general position of the City was that rank would be advantageous and should be sought at the earliest possible opportunity” ( p170 Kaiser ) .

Conversely the positions of many of the trade brotherhoods were mostly ignored or non actively sought. The leading of the National Framers Union was strongly opposed to rank although many of the other trade brotherhoods remained unfastened minded. Representatives of the TUC for illustration had suggested British entry to the EEC at a meeting of the Economic Planning Board in July 1960. The TUC conference in 1961 besides supported rank under certain conditions. Whilst the positions of the brotherhoods may hold mattered small to the Conservative Government, they did however play a portion in set uping the wide consensus across British political relations in favor of rank. The positions of one person sector may non hold greatly influenced the Government, but a realization that support for rank from so many varied involvement groups must hold had some impact in the thought of policy shapers. As Kaiser concludes of the TUC stance “if anything, the matter-of-fact attack of the TUC in connexion with the progressively pro-European attitudes in concern contributed to the development of a political clime among the political and economic elite which strongly favoured a reorientation in British European policy” ( p173 Kaiser ) .

Macmillan besides came to see entry into the EEC as something that could assist the Conservatives and damage the Labour Party – most surely a positive influence on his thought towards rank. After 10 old ages in office there was a feeling that the Conservative Party was bit by bit running out of steam and new thoughts ; entry into the EEC could lend to a programme of modernization and develop an image for the party that would pull both immature electors and the upwards nomadic in-between category. Macmillan was as Kaiser concludes “determined to claim for the Tories the competency for the necessary modernization of Britain and for the revival of the British universe role” ( p146 Kaiser ) . Entry into the EEC held out the promise of accomplishing both. In a similar vena, Macmillan believed that a Conservative led entry into the EEC would farther intensify the divisions within the Labour Party over Europe, once more passing an electoral advantage to the Conservatives.

From 1961 onwards, British policy was focussed on entry to the EEC. Such a policy was mostly based on realistic appraisals of the economic cost set against projected economic addition and of the strategic displacement in Britain’s place on the universe phase since the terminal of World War II. Suez and the diminution of Empire and the Commonwealth were the primary foreign policy issues that steered policy shapers towards Europe. American influence was besides a pressure factor – the evident necessity for entree to US atomic engineering and the British demand to prolong a particular relationship efficaciously left Britain obliged to adhere to American encouragement for Britain to fall in the EEC. Above all though, EEC rank and the end point closer economic cooperation with Europe held out the promise of faster economic growing in Britain – something that was urgently needed at the clip. The long-run economic diminution in Britain had to be halted and rank of the EEC appeared to be the best manner to make so.

EEC rank could present on two foreparts for Britain. It offered the opportunity of economic recovery with a face-saving function at the head of a dynamic European Community that would be a major economic and political participant on the universe phase. From 1961 as Drum sanders compactly concludes “the logic was faultless ; the decision ineluctable: Britain applied to fall in Europe.


George S,Britain and the European Community – the Politicss of Semi-Detachment,Oxford University Press, Oxford 1992

Kaiser W,Using Europe, Mistreating the Europeans, Britain and European Integration 1945 – 63, ,Macmillan Press, Basingstoke 1999

Sanders D,Losing and Empire, Finding a Role – British Foreign Policy since 1945

Young J,Britain and European Unity 1945-1999,Macmillan Press, Basingstoke 2000

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