Britain's entry into the European Economic Community was a source of great conflict in Europe. There were suspicions that French President de Gaulle did not want Britain to enter in order to maintain his country's hegemony over the EEC. De Gaulle spoke of the cultural and institutional differences that would make Britain incompatible with the Six. The British governments motives were even questioned as to whether they only wanted to reap the economic benefits of the EEC. The following is my assessment of these situations according to the Salmon documents. Throughout document 23, Prime Minister Macmillan continuously states, ' I must remind the house that the EEC is an economic community, not a defense alliance, or a foreign policy community, or a cultural community.
It is an economic community," Although it is clear throughout the document that the British were aware of the wider political agenda of the Six, their main focus was certainly economic benefits. I do think, however, that The United states had a great influence on Britain's desire to join the EEC. In document 23, Prime Minister Macmillan discusses how remaining outside the EEC could cause Britain to lose its influence not only in Europe but in Washington as well. He fears that the U. S. would pay more attention to the issues of the Six rather than Britain.
On the other hand, Britain's conditions for entering the union suggest that they are only interested in the economic benefits. Britain wanted the Six to agree that Britain would be free to create their own foreign policy, fulfill their pledge to the EFTA, plan their own economy, and safeguarding of British agriculture. These conditions made me think that Britain still wanted to be their own country and handle their own affairs, but still benefit from the economic situation in the EEC. It seems that de Gaulle felt his country's hegemony over the EEC would be threatened if Britain were to enter the EEC. In document 29 a Gaullist minister gives reason for deGaulle's veto of Britain's membership saying," Now, with six members, there is five hens and a rooster.
If you join [with other countries], there will perhaps be seven or eights hens. But there will be two roosters. That isn't agreeable," It is clear that because of Britain's financial status and power that de Gaulle feared his country would no longer be the final say in the EEC. French President de Gaulle spoke of the cultural and institutional difference between Britain and the Six and used these reasons to keep Britain out of the EEC. He said the Treaty of Rome was signed by six states 'of the same nature'. These six are much more alike than different in things such as their habits, living and working conditions, and industrial and agricultural production.
They are also geographically closer. In document 9 de Gaulle says, '[Britain has] very marked and very original habits and traditions. In short, the nature, structure, the very situation that are England's differ profoundly from those of the continentals," He also seems concerned that letting Britain in would make others they are tied to want in and therefore cange the market built by the Six. Britain's relationship with the United States was also a concern of de Gaulle's.
He believes that Britain does not understand that a 'special relationship' with the United States was not compatible with membership in the EEC. Britain seemed to confirm that it had outside interests when Kennedy offered and Britain accepted Polaris missiles. Kennedy made the same offer to Paris, but they declined. Paris believed that Britain's acceptance of the nuclear weapons showed their true loyalty. The consensus seemed to be that Britain should not enter the EEC, a close-knit community with strict rules, while they had so many special agreements with the United States. I personally think that although Britain did have strong bond with the United States, they could see the economic, social, and political value of joining the EEC.
I speculate that although other EEC states would probably prefer Britain to be more loyal to Europe, they had dollar signs in their eyes. Whether or not Britain continued to have strong ties to the United States, having them in the EEC would greatly benefit the smaller countries economically. I am sure that they were willing to overlook the ties in order to benefit economically. Overall I think that de Gaulle's suspicions of the British we more or less true. To this day they have rejected the Euro and still are greatly tied to the U. S.
in foreign policy. I don't see that the British have strengthened European Unification in any other way than economically. In my mind I see Britain as more of an American land that is a little further away from home, and I'm not too sure that they would mind hearing that. They have benefited economically from joining the European Union, but it is hard to gain anything else from it when you are unwilling to embrace it. If they so desperately want to keep things the same, then why even pretend to want to change? I think that Britain should either embrace the European Union and follow the same guidelines as the rest of the members, or get out.