1 FEBRUARY 1963, Page 3


THE Brussels negotiations are at an end, and it is .quite clear who has wrecked them. That is the sole consolation in a situation which other- wise is full of menace for Europe and the Western alliance. Why should the French Foreign Minister bother to say_ that the breakdown was due to Britain's unwillingness to accept the agri- cultural provisions of the Treaty of Rome? Why should the Quai d'Orsay abound in conflicting interpretations of events? After President de Gaulle's press conference nobody will believe them. Indeed, there seems to be no good reason why anyone should accept the word of a French Minister for a long time to come. President de Gaulle has placed M. Couve de Murville and M. Pompidou in a situation where they inevitably appear either as liars or lackeys.

The negotiations for Britain's entry into the Common Market were killed for reasons which President. de Gaulle has made perfectly clear. It was the feeling that British entry into the Com- munity might lead to a 'colossal Atlantic com- munity dependent upon and dominated by the United States.' That was the sole basis of French opposition. It was the Nassau agreement that finally determined the President to .bring the Brussels talks to an end. His motives were en- tirely political. Agriculture had nothing to do with them. The rupture was part of Gaullist re- sistance to those American policies which are the real hope of the Western world, part of a plan for Europe which bears a chilling re- semblance to that 'continental system' which has haunted French foreign policy since Louis XIV.

But Europe in 1963 is still defended by Arinerica against a Russian threat backed by greatly superior forces. President de Gaulle may think that he can play Mr. Khrushchev off against President Kennedy. But it is Russia that will profit from the split in the Western alliance, and Europe that will suffer. Fundamentally the Russians are not interested in negotiating with anyone except President Kennedy; but,- naturally enough, they are willing to make use of the opportunities for diversionary tactics which French diplomacy offers them. The Europe of the -Six, even supposing that it were united, is too weak a formation militarily and politically to play the dangerous part Gaullist policy has writ- ten for it. If it tries, it will be broken in the attempt, and the Western alliance with it.

Fortunately, the five countries who are France's partners in the Community show no signs of wishing to go along with President de Gaulle's geopolitics. Both within NATO and within EEC the struggle is now on. For the moment it is true that, as a German negotiator remarked, 'there will be nothing left of the Market now except a bureaucratic machine.' That machine can at least be kept in existence until the European idea can once more take on its full meaning. But if it were to become an instrument of Gaullist policy, then the future itself would be lost.

Now that the final break has come, something must be done to pick up the pieces. Economic arrangements can certainly be reached to ensure that the effect on the British economy in par- ticular and on world trade in general is not too dramatic. The- Trade Expansion Act can be widened to include EFTA; the Kennedy round of tariff negotiations can be embarked upon. If France succeeds in imposing its own protec- tionist Patterns on its partners, then some move will have to be made towards a grouping capable of mustering sufficient bargaining strength to deal with the situation. "These arrangements, will be essentially interim arrangements. It is impossible to think that Britain will not one day be inte- grated into a' Europe which will move steadily closer to North America.

Politically, the position is far more difficult. We are now entering on a period of struggle for the future shape of Europe and the Western alliance, a period in which the American administration will have to work with great skill and care if it wishes to succeed in destroying Gaullist plans. One weapon in this battle is Britain's desire to enter Europe, and it is essen- tial that that desire should be maintained, that we should not be angered into turning our backs on Europe. To separate ourselves from American policy or from our friends among the five would be to play the Gaullist game. President de Gaulle's offer of association, therefore, must ,not be considered. How could any British Govern- ment embark on such a plan without a confidence in French good faith which will be wholly lacking as long as the present regime is in power in Paris? What we must do is assist President Kennedy in his ,arduous task of isolating France, and that purpose will best be served for the moment by abstention from any action dictated by irritation. The crisis which has now opened can only be resolved by the destruction of Gaullist ambitions. Some time may have to elapse before this comes about.- But Gaullism must be broken.

The transitional period which must now fol- low will be painful for Britain. But if we are sensible we shall employ it in putting our affairs in order- with,an eye to that entry into a wider grouping of countries which must still be our aim. Same things will have to change. We must modernise our industry, cut our agricultural sub- sidies, lower our tariffs and, in general, expose ourselves to that spirit of competition which was anticipated to be one of the most beneficial effects of entry into the Community. We have no reason to despair of the result if we keep our heads clear and our hands busy.