• Short Summary

    The way is now open for agreement on Britain's entry to the European Common Market.?

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    The way is now open for agreement on Britain's entry to the European Common Market. With this statement, Britain's Prime Minister Mr Edward Heath summed up the results of his summit meeting on Europe last week with the President of France, M. Georges Pompidou. This feature, the third in our series on the Common Market entry negotiations, traces the formation of the Common Market which Britain, along with Eire, Norway and Denmark, hopes to join.

    The Common Market grew out of a centuries-old idea of a United Europe. The desolation of the Second World War, which left Europe in ruins, gave renewed impetus to the old dream. Britain's war Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill was the first politician after the war to call for a Unit States of Europe", at the "Congress of Europe" in the Hague, Holland, in May 1948. But the first concrete step to an economically united Europe saw Britain remaining aloof.

    The Treaty of the European Coal and Steel Community was signed in Luxembourg in 1951. The signatories - West Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg - were the same countries who later joined their economic forces more comprehensively in 1957, with the establishment of the European Economic Community - the Common Market.

    The VISNEWS feature series on the Common entry negotiations began on May 17 with Production No.5514/71, dealing with the problem of new Zealand's economic dependence on the British market. The second feature was Production No. 5576/71, on the Caribbean sugar grower's dependence on Britain. The rest of the series will concentrate on the abortive attempts to enlarge the market, and the Common Agricultural Policy. The series will end this month, before a decision on British entry.

    SYNOPSIS: For centuries, Europeans have been fascinated by the ideal of a United Europe - a Europe with no frontiers, no restrictions on trade, and living in peace. The disaster of the Second World War gave impetus to this ideal Sir Winston Churchill was the first politician after the war to use the phrase "the United States of Europe", and there were plenty of European leaders who devoted years of their lives to fulfilling this dream. One of them was the Frenchman, Robert Schuman. The Schuman Plan became the first concrete step to an economically united Europe - Six countries signed the Treaty of the European Coal and Steel Community, in Luxembourg in 1951. Britain remained aloof.

    By putting control of European iron and steel production in the hands of a supra-national body, responsible to no single nation, the idealists hoped that war between members would no longer be possible. West Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg signed.

    Six years later, in March 1957, the same six countries decided to go further towards unity - they signed the Treaty of Rome, setting up the Common Market. They pledged themselves gradually to abolish all trade barriers between them, and to improve living standards for their peoples by common policies. They also set up Euratom, the European Atomic Energy Community.

    Production in the six countries boomed, and their high tariffs guaranteed the market. The London Motor Show regularly showed the best of European production.

    The Common Market now has a home market as big as that of the United States of America. Fear of exclusion led Britain finally to apply for membership, in 1961. The negotiations dragged on for sixteen months. Then at his dramatic press conference in January, 1963, President de Gaulle said "No". Unanimity was needed, and the entry bid failed.

    An important part of the Common Market is its economic agreements with other countries. These agreements give varying degrees of preferential treatment to dependant countries. One of the most comprehensive of these agreements is with eighteen African states, mostly former French territories. It's the Yaounde Convention, signed in the Cameroun in 1963.

    In the Congo, the then Prime Minister Mr Tshombe opens a new road, built with Common Market funds. It's part of the large aid programme, so much more successfully implemented by the countries together. The success of the Common Market has inspired the latest bid by the British, along with Eire, Norway and Denmark, to join the Community.

    The talks bean in July, 1970. A new row of faces, with different declared aims from the post-war idealists. Now, the Common Market is basically an economic unit, and few politicians dare to mention a politically United Europe. But one institution reminds of the political aim behind the Common Market...the European Parliament, in Strasbourg.

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