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England hardly into the EEC

ORIENTERING MARCH 7, 1970 / Strong opposition in Labor.


Norwegian EEC activists must look back on ten years of disappointment. The belief that one day Norway will both be willing – and allowed to – to give up national independence for the benefit of the EEC bodies in Brussels, is nonetheless alive.

Now the "plan" is this: "real" negotiations for the summer / fall, a negotiation period of 18 months, "full" membership in the "Community" from 1.1.1973.

The EEC activists are likely to face new disappointments. They don't have as many trumps in their sleeves as many newspapers try to imagine. This is due to both Norwegian and Nordic conditions, but primarily the UK's demonstrative uncertainty.

Officially, the UK Government is in favor of full membership of the Common Market. It is supported in this by the Conservatives. England – like Norway, Denmark and Eire – has an application "dormant" in Brussels. Thus, everything should be clear for a huge number of EEC membership in Parliament. But it's not that simple.

The "White Paper" increases skepticism

The government recently issued a "White Paper" on the advantages / disadvantages of UK membership in the EEC. It received a very mixed reception in the British press. The financial worker in Sunday newspaper The Observer, Alan Day, rightly states that he has now been very thoughtful. (Day has EEC membership.)

The socialist newspaper New Statesman cites three main reasons why England will suffer severe losses in the EEC: 1. EEC's "clumsy and reactionary" agricultural policy. 2. The free movement of capital. 3. Loss on trade with the Commonwealth countries.

Gallup shows that 70-75 per cent are negative or doubtful about EEC membership. This is mainly due to the fact that food and clothing prices are now far lower in England than in the continent, and that most people have not trusted the assurances that a price increase will be offset by wage increases.

The choice is more important than the EEC

In this lies an essential political reality: it is impossible for Labor to ignore this skepticism of most people when one soon enters a bitter election campaign. Prime minister Harold Wilson # 's chances are so uncertain at present that he must exploit all sources of increased popularity.

EEC supporters' big argument: UK membership in the EEC will give business impetus to increased growth and activity, so that England again comes among the most expanding countries in the world. (England's economic growth has long been small, although it has improved lately.)

The EEC skeptics ask: Will economic growth really be so strong that the losses are offset?

The EEC opponents, e.g. Former Secretary of Commerce Douglas Jay: Should England really pay to be allowed to give up sovereignty? Aren't most people willing to pay to maintain their sovereignty?

Can England's financial difficulties be solved in the EEC?

The New Statesman is very skeptical of the claim that England solves its growth problems by entering the EEC: First, it points out that economic growth, for example. in Scandinavia is fully in line with the Common Market. Secondly, it is suggested that the English growth problems must be solved in England.

There is an open question English newspapers are wary of asking: Will the British industry be able to compete with the West German in particular? Conditions today do not rule out that the industrial lords of the Rhine can do what Hitler could not do – if England enters the "Community".

Wilson on several horses

The Observers co-worker Nora Beloff has some interesting "corridor considerations". She says that the White Paper created confusion and despair among EEC supporters. Thus, at a party dinner, two ministers should have "gray in soup". The EEC supporters are obviously furious because the White Paper operates with huge numbers for what it will cost England to enter the EEC.

Two explanations are found: a) Wilson has produced the giant figures because he wants to negotiate with the EEC and therefore wants the best possible result, b) because he wants a pretext to break with the EEC. Probably Wilson will have both options open for the longest time.

The parliamentary debate on the white paper clarified nothing – something both Aftenposten and Arbeiderbladet had to announce. Opposition leader Heath's main argument was that he was offended – that Wilson was trying to convince British voters that there was only one tough negotiator facing the EEC, namely Harold Wilson.

Dangerous opposition within Labor

Within the British Labor Party and the trade union movement, a number of significant people have taken a stand against EEC membership. We have mentioned former Trade Minister Douglas Jay. Also mentioned are veteran Emanuel Shinwell, Reg Prentice and Dick Marsh (former ministers) and of course left-wing leader Michael Foot (the man who now has Bevan's place in the House of Commons). Among the trade union officials there are three names, Jack Jones (transport), Richard Briginshaw (printing) and Bert Hazell (member of the Lower House and head of the agricultural workers).

Nora Beloff suggests, on top of this, that opportunities exist for the anti-EEC people in the Labor Party to receive such strong support that they are also following the half cabinet in Wilson's government – including the mighty Barbara Castle.

The campaigns against EEC membership in England have formed a coordinating committee, in which members of the Conservative and Liberal parliamentary groups are also members. It should also be noted that strong financial circles are skeptical of the EEC and that Enoch Powell also creates serious difficulties for the conservative leader Edward Heath in the market policy.

At present, the situation is that one cannot see which government is capable of bringing England into the Common Market, and even surviving. The likelihood suggests that the cynic Wilson will start negotiations in Brussels – and then exploit this unscrupulously in his election campaign.

Will Wilson intend to exploit Brandt's zeal?

Chancellor Willy Brandt is a key figure in the game around EEC. As a Social Democrat, he has an open interest in bringing Britain and Scandinavia to the EEC. (It would be a benefit to German Social Democracy, which has no strong opinions in either France or Italy.) In addition, West German finance circles are probably interested in the UK market, so Brandt also represents German major capital when he emerges as "Europe's rescuer. »In the EEC-friendly Norwegian press.

Brandt is officially visiting the UK. One has to ask: What are Wilson's motives for doing so viciously against the German Chancellor?

At present, the situation is that one cannot see which government is capable of bringing England into the Common Market, and even surviving.

By Magne Skrindo

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