As the British general election approaches, Britain's membership of the European Economic Community (EEC) has become one of the crucial issues between the Conservative and the Labour opposition party.
As the British general election approaches, Britain's membership of the European Economic Community (EEC) has become one of the crucial issues between the Conservative and the Labour opposition party. The Conservative party leader, Mr. Heath, has said: "We are in the Common Market. We stay in the Common Market." Labour leader, Mr. Harold Wilson, has promised that if Labour are elected, there will be a renegotiation of the terms of entry and a referendum on British membership.
Visnews' Bureau Chief in Paris, M. Jean Magny, held interviews on this subject with two French politicians, M. Francois Mitterand, leader of the left-wing Party Socialiste, and M. Jean Lecanuet, leader of the centrist, Centre Democrate.
M.Mitterand thought that his friendship with Britain's Labour Party leaders would help solve the problem. He said:
M.Lecanuet pointed out that socialism and membership of the Community are not incompatible. He said:
SYNOPSIS: The French Socialist Party Leader. M.Francois Mitterand, was interviewed on Thursday, about the attitude of British socialists to the Common Market.
Monsieur Mitterand said that overall he hoped the Labour party would win the forthcoming British election on February the twenty eighth. It was only through socialist policies and a Labour government that he could see Britain - a great country - overcoming its social and economic problems. The Labour party's programme, he added was very close to that of the French socialists. Then he turned to the statement by Labour party leader, Harold Wilson, that Labour would, if elected, renegotiate the terms of British entry into the Common Market and would then hold a referendum to see if the British people really wanted to be in it. He said it was well known that the French socialists were in favour of the Common Market even if some central policies needed to be changed. He pointed out that they had discussed this with their comrades in England and expressed the fervent hope that if the British were to reconsider British membership they would talk about it first with French socialists. On the day that Monsieur Mitterand was speaking, a French social delegate at the European Commission caused a furore among British delegates by saying that the Labour party was the only one that could solve Britain problems.
Monsier Joan Lecanuet, leader of the ???mcoratic C??? Party, was also interviewed on the subject.
Monsieur Lecanuet said that the Common Market was already afflicted with serious internal disagreement and that the departure of Britain would be another heavy blow. He insisted that a free and balanced Europe could be maintained only if Britain remained within the community. He also pointed out that the decision to enter the community had been arrived at by a democratic decision, and he did not think a change in the parliamentary majority would alter that. He dismissed Labour's talk of a referendum as an election gimmick.
M. Lecanuet also dismissed socialist fears that non-socialist countries in the community would take control of the European economy. He pointed to Herr Willi Brandt, the West German leader, as a living demonstration that it was possible to be both a good European and a good socialist. Monsieur Mitterand was another example of the same thing. He replied to the criticism that the Economic Community has been organized for the benefit of businessmen and technocrats by insisting that it had definite social aims as well.