Britain's third bid in 10 years to join the European Common Market got underway officially in Brussels on Tuesday (21 July).
Britain's third bid in 10 years to join the European Common Market got underway officially in Brussels on Tuesday (21 July). The negotiations are expected to be long and difficult and much depends on the price Britain will have to pay -- in the form of higher food prices -- for membership.
The talks got off to a brisk start with no haggling over priorities. The Common Market plans to tackle the difficult agricultural problem in parallel with talks on the reduction of industrial tariffs during the first phase of negotiations.
Both sides have agreed on early attention being given to the crucial problem of a fair British contribution to the common agricultural fund.
Earlier this month Prime Minister Edward Heath said that no British government could contemplate joining the market unless a solution was found to ease the vast financial burden that present arrangements would place on the country. The only official British estimate ranges from GBP1,000 to GBP1,100 million. But Common Market officials say it would be nearer GBP500 million.
The length of the necessary transition period, the problems of sterling and the effect on Commonwealth interests will figure among other key themes.