This is the last in our series of background features on the current entry negotiations between Britain, Eire, Norway and Denmark and the Common Market.
This is the last in our series of background features on the current entry negotiations between Britain, Eire, Norway and Denmark and the Common Market. It deals with the opposition in the candidate countries to membership of the Common Market. For if the negotiators do come up with final entry terms from the next top-level round of talks, beginning in Luxembourg on Monday (7 June), the battle for entry is only half won. Opposition in each country, both organised and unorganised, is strong.....and in Eire and Norway the final decision rests not with the committed politicians, but on the result of a referendum among the people.
Economic and social considerations are behind the objections of most of the opponents. The farming and fishing lobbies of each country, except Denmark, are particularly strong in their opposition to the clauses of the treaty affecting them, and fears of high food prices and influxes of foreign labor frightens other people.
The other main objection is social and political in nature. This is based on the thought that membership if a huge economic group with the social and political implications of the Treaty of Rome, would result in a loss of national identity, as well as sovereign rights.
This series began on May 17 with Prod. No. 5514/71 dealing with the problems of New Zealand's economic dependence on the British market. The second feature was Proud. No. 5576/71, on the Carribean sugar growers dependence on Britain; the third was Proud. No. 5702/71, on the formation of the Common market; the fourth described the controversial Common Agricultural Policy; and the fifth described the unsuccessful past attempts to enlarge the market. The series now ends and it remains to be seen whether this third attempt to enlarge the European Common Market will be successful or not. The result of the negotiations is expected to be reached during this month.
SYNOPSIS: The economic unity of western Europe took a giant step forward two weeks ago when President Pompidou of France and the Prime Minister of Britain, Edward Health agreed that there was no basic obstacle to Britain, and therefore Eire, Norway and Denmark, joining the European Common Market. But Mr. Health, almost sure of cooperation from the European mainland, can not be sure of his position at home.
Mr. Peter Shore is one of the prominent politicians in Britain who has consistently spoken against British membership of the Common Market. There are many more like him. And a large part of the population is also against Britain's entry......... Objections very from economic to social and political reasons. Many think that acceptance of the Treaty of Rome would shift the decision-making apparatus to Brussels, meaning the end of British democracy...a surrendering of sovereign rights.
The objection most often heard i Britain is that prices will rise...and as an example of the cheap food available in Britain, opponents point to the one-day shopping trips made to Britain by many French housewives. French women come to Britain to buy cheap New Zealand food...and entry would mean no more cheap food, for the French or the British. Mr. Heath still has a lot of persuading to do.
Another problem all the candidate countries face is fishing. If Eire, Norway and Denmark join the Common Market, they will have to accept the Common fishing policy..and the fishermen are furious. For if the fishermen of Eire are exposed to the full competition of common Market fishermen, they'll suffer badly....... opposition in Eire has gathered around this issue. The opposition in Norway points to the same problem, and stresses that the same problem exists in farming, as in fishing. Competitors, with no protection of traditional right, would mean the end for many small businessman.
There has been strong opposition in Norway to membership of the EEC ever since the fist application in 1962. The opponents here insist that Norway's future lies with the Nordic union..... cooperation between the Scandinavian states...and that a Common Market based around Brussels would not take Norway's interests to hear.
The subject of Common Market entry has split Norway - so much so that in March this year is brought about the fall of the four - party coalition government of Mr. Per Norten, here arriving in Bonn as Prime Minister. Although Prime Minister of a government in favour of entry, his own party is against. He had to resign.
It's the same in Denmark. The negotiations show signs of reaching a decision but opposition is, if anything, growing, It's feared that the competition of the Common Market would kill off the many small firms....and that the advanced social welfare system would be compromised. The political parties vary greatly in their views, but the left is uniformly against entry. In all the candidate countries, as entry appears more likely, opposition becomes louder.