15 DECEMBER 1961, Page 5

A Month's Hard Labour From JOHN LAMBERT


THE negotiations on Britain's entry into the - Common Market have moved into the second of what looks like being a series of monthly stages. The vast amount of work got through by the experts and officials, in corn- Piling statistics and examining data, in the month since the negotiations officially began, had pro- duced a sufficiently clear picture for the Ministers to agree on a programme for the next stage; due to be completed (if all goes well) in time for a further ministerial session on 1anuary 19. This will involve work on four main Points, still primarily designed to clarify or isolate problems—though by the time they meet January 11 the delegations may be ready to try to sketch solutions on some issues; but, as the problems are interlinked, none can be definitively settled and, as it were, set on one side, Although the ministerial meeting was devoted to questions of method, two things are signifi- cant about the programme. Firstly—at Mr. Heath's suggestion, it seems—a new approach was agreed for the problem of manufactured goods from Canada, Australia and New Zealand: a group of experts, which started work this week, is making a hypothetical study of what the effects would be if the enlarged Community (the Six plus Britain) applied the present common external tariff to this trade. This does not mean that Britain could accept such a solution : it is merely an attempt to work out in concrete terms exactly what it is that Canada and, to a lesser extent, the other two countries have to fear. Then it will be possible to find solutions (pos- sibly in the form of tariff quotas) where the shoe pinches. One point which has emerged clearly from the work of the experts, and should facilitate a solution, is that the whole of this trade will represent a very tiny percentage of the enlarged Community's total imports.

The second thing to note is that a way has now been found to tackle the whole question of the relatively underdeveloped countries of the Commonwealth. The instructions given to the officials are to examine Commonwealth trade in tropical products, raw materials and manufac- tures from these countries both by country and by product, and to group the countries accord- ing to the kind of problem with which British membership will face them. The value of this approach is that it will provide an objective basis for estimating what sort of relationship (or special arrangements) with the enlarged Com- munity would best safeguard, from the strictly economic point of view, the interests of the countries falling into the different groups.

Finally, there' is the question of the 'economic un' in.' Mr. Heath, in his Paris speech, said Britain might need a period for adjustment or transition before applying fully the measures the Six have already put into effect in detailed im- plementation of the Rome Treaty. Before the next ministerial meeting the British delegation will begin looking with the Commission at the exact situation. Britain is likely most to need flexibility of control over the movement of capi- tal in view of the present efforts to stem the flow of investment capital out of the country, she could probably not' at once begin raising the restrictions on the movement of capital to the Six. In the social security field (equal pay amongst other things) more time might be needed, and also in that of monopolies and re- strictive practices, where the Six this week laid down their first set of regulations.

In any case, the negotiators are beginning to get down to practical problems. Meanwhile, the Six are making final preparations for a minis- terial sitting starting on Tuesday, designed to take the crucial decisions needed on agricultural policy—the move to the second stage, and ac- celeration. The plans of the Six for political co-operation (and also for British membership) are being discussed in Paris, in the course, of the week, by the Foreign Ministers of the Six themselves, by the MPs of the Six and Britain in the Assembly of Western European Union and by the MPs and Ministers of all the Connell of Europe countries in a special meeting behind closed doors on Saturday. Once the final shape of the Fouchet Commission's proposals can be seen, Britain will be faced with a problem : to do as she did with the Common Market and wait until the Six have signed a treaty before seek= ing to join; or to play her part actively in shaping the kind of political co-operation in which both Mr. Heath and Mr. Macmillan have already said she is willing to take part.

'Nobody's ftetting over the Balkan Question any more,!'