18 MAY 1962, Page 3


TT was inevitable that Dr. Adenauer's reported 'remarks on Great Britain's entry into the European Economic Community should have caused much uneasiness in London. For, although the German Chancellor was clearly not speaking for his Government, the association of the Brussels negotiation with the Berlin prob- lem poses a question which Britain would cer- tainly have preferred to see postponed. Do we put first the interests of our European associates or of our American allies?

That it should have been posed at all is partly due to an element of impatience in President Kennedy's diplomacy. It was a risky though justifiable operation to begin talks on the Berlin question while negotiations were proceeding which gave France and Germany considerable wrecking power as regards American policy. But the way in which the operation was conducted, with public rebukes to the German Government and refusal to speak to their ambassador in Washington, was inexcusably clumsy. As a result, President Kennedy now finds himself faced with Franco-German opposition within NATO which is reflected to Britain's discomfort in a German unwillingness to put pressure on France at Brussels.

From the British point of view the key to this dauntingly complex situation lies in France. Does President de Gaulle simply not want British participation in Europe? Or has he in mind a price which must be paid—a political price apart from the economic concessions that we shall have to make? The answer to this will be clearer after Mr. Macmillan's talks with him, but last Tues- day's press conference may give some indication of the way his mind is working. It has always been known that his conception of Europe was of a group of States working closely together (with a high degree of French leadership) and forming a political entity strong enough to weigh against the US within NATO. But, allied with this con- ception, is his insistence on the development of a French nuclear deterrent which would both secure French preponderance in Europe and allow Europe a greater say in the general con- duct of the Western alliance. It is here perhaps that the Prime Minister may find grounds for agreement with the President, and it would ke surprising if, when he went to France, he had not in mind some arrangement for a common Anglo- French deterrent.

Such an arrangement might mean the abandon- ment of the highly prized Anglo-American col- laboration in the nuclear field. But, if Britain is to enter Europe, then we can hardly expect to keep certain sectors of our national life apart from what is bound to be a total reorientation, if not a process of symbiosis. It would be unreason- able of us to expect not to have to collaborate with Europe in the field of nuclear armaments as in various other common activities. Nor would this collaboration necessarily be contrary' to American policy. It would solve the vexed question of nuclear parity in NATO without 'requiring action in Washington which might run into difficulties with Congress, and, if it led to the acceptance in Paris of Britain's European bona fides, then it would save President Kennedy from the break-down of his European policy. The Western alliance might well be healthier if America found itself facing a European partner rather than leading a grumbling and disorderly NATO platoon.

The Berlin problem is more difficult. Britain's policy has not, in fact, been one of the abandon- ment of West Berlin, but it is hard to avoid the conclusion that if the Western powers wish to stay in the city they may have to offer some degree of recognition to the Ulbricht regime, dis- agreeable though this may be, President de Gaulle's policy of simply refusing to negotiate on Berlin has appered feasible merely because the Russians have largely ignored France in this matter, believing quite rightly that the final word rests with America. It is of the greatest im- portance that the West should not abandon Ber- lin, but America's European allies must recog- nise the limits of the possible—which, in this in- stance, include the limits imposed by geography.

In the final analysis, what is required of Britain by France and less imperiously by Western Ger- many is an identification of itself with European interests. This may seem difficult practically and sentimentally. but we should not allow a mass of difficult detail to hide the major realities of the situation. Those realities are that we are allied to the States of Western Europe in a military alliance; that we are asking to be associated with them in an economic community whose aim is to blend the different States concerned into one economic unit; that mere geography links our fate indissolubly with theirs. To ask us to identify ourselves with Europe is to ask no more than the recognition of the realities of our present situation.