The General Says No: Britain's Exclusion from Europe

By Nora Beloff | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SEVEN
EUROPE SPLITS

DIVIDED, disheartened, and discredited by the failure of the European Army, the advocates of European unity might have abandoned their struggle at this point had it not been for Jean Monnet and his irrepressible team of young optimists in high places. The Monnet network regarded it as their mission to demolish national barriers dividing up Europe, and refused to accept defeat.

The speed and effectiveness of the relance, or relaunching, of the European idea astonished the outside world. But once again Whitehall reacted with a mixture of scepticism and scorn. The new European effort was based on the recognition that the time was not yet ripe for a military or political merger: its initiators decided first to attack economic divisions. Once there was a free flow of money, goods, and men, they reasoned, political institutions to manage the new complex would have to follow.

It was from Holland, and particularly from the Dutch Foreign Minister, Jacques Beyen, that the new impetus first came. Early in 1955, Beyen proposed a European customs union, with complete free trade. Few people at the time believed that France, with a couple of hundred years of almost uninterrupted protectionism, could accept the idea. I remember walking round the classically elegant gardens of the Dutch Embassy in Paris, listening to Beyen's radical proposition and expressing amazement that he could imagine that the French manufacturer or peasant could be converted to free trade. In a sense, the Dutch were, due for disappointment. Free trade, in so far as this meant not only the abolition of customs barriers but also the free play of competition between Community producers, was reserved for industry only. National barriers were also to be abolished for trade in agricultural products but, instead of allowing free competition in this section, the Six transferred the tasks of maintaining prices and keeping farmers

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The General Says No: Britain's Exclusion from Europe
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Foreword 7
  • Chapter One - The Execution 11
  • Chapter Two - De Gaulle: Man and Monarch 19
  • Chapter Three - De Gaulle: Anglo-Saxon Attitudes 28
  • Chapter Four - New Notions of Europe 39
  • Chapter Five - Britain Says No to Europe 50
  • Chapter Six - Europe in Uniform 61
  • Chapter Seven - Europe Splits 70
  • Chapter Eight - Unsplendid Isolation 84
  • Chapter Nine - Macmillan Somersaults 95
  • Chapter Ten - Brussels: First Round 113
  • Chapter Eleven - Brussels: Last Round 132
  • Chapter Twelve - The Débâcle 148
  • Epilogue 172
  • European Institutions 181
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