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The efforts of the British government to join the EEC in the years 1961 to 1973 were mainly a result of Britains decline as a world power Assess the validity of this view.

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Introduction

'The efforts of the British government to join the EEC in the years 1961 to 1973 were mainly a result of Britain's decline as a world power' - Assess the validity of this view. Britain's economic decline during the period resulted in the continuous efforts to join the prosperous EEC. Keynesian economics wasn't an effective solution to the economic downturn, and to solve the problem, the EEC seemed like a liable solution. However, because of Anglo-American relations and the commonwealth, Macmillan's efforts to join the EEC were halted by De Gaulle's veto in 1963. Nonetheless, 10 years later, Edward Heath got Britain into the EEC due to his pro-European beliefs, as opposed to Macmillan and Wilson who were sceptical over Europe. Also, Britain's decline in international power made the British public suspicious about European integration, as the historian Paul Einzig put it, "They want to remain purely British and are firmly opposed to relinquishing any essential part of their country's absolute sovereignty", which was the reason De Gaulle vetoed Britain's application twice. ...read more.

Middle

The age of prosperity and continuous go budgets was at an end. Moreover, British exports to the Commonwealth had fallen to 43% of total exports by 1957, in addition to this; America was faced with a weakening Britain and a thriving EEC. America wanted Britain to tap into Europe's markets and changed the laws of protectionism, becoming a spokesman to America, rather than the old Anglo-American relations. In contrast to this, to combat the economic downturn Macmillan created EFTA in May 1960. However, compared to the EEC, EFTA failed in its principal aims and merely highlighted British opposition to the EEC's economic principles. As Britain's own economic problems grew and British influence in the world declined, the nation found itself outside a highly successful economic community, which proved impossible to ignore. Despite the economic advantages of joining the EEC, which could have saved the failing staple industries by giving Britain access to new markets without harmful tariff barriers, Macmillan and Wilson wouldn't compromise national sovereignty or admit Britain was in decline. ...read more.

Conclusion

Due to his pro-European beliefs he was prepared to put America second and wouldn't accept another veto as he believed Britain couldn't remain out of the EEC any longer. Even though De Gaulle retired in 1969 and was replaced by Pompidou, the community wasn't prepared to simply subsidize the 'sick man of Europe' and Britain had to accept harsh conditions in order to gain entry. Heath knew Europe was the only solution to solving the problems Britain faced, Macmillan and Wilson also realised this, however, Heath realised Britain's decline and was prepared to accept the terms. After 22 years since Britain's first application, Britain became a member 1st January 1973. However, Britain's membership was too late. With the European countries experiencing economic prosperity, British industries were too backward to compete within the market and it seemed the EEC wouldn't help Britain. On top of this, Britain's harsh terms damaged the British economy further, such as the Britain being forced to give up its fishing rights which was a major economic advantage for Britain, but after 1973, the fishing industry declined. In short, Britain should have joie ...read more.

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