February 1 marks the third anniversary of Brexit, the main domestic political event in Britain in recent years. And half a century ago, the country ardently celebrated the United Kingdom’s entry into the European Economic Community, from Status Quo and Slade concerts and exhibitions of European cultural achievements to matches with Bobby Charlton, Gerd Müller and Franz Beckenbauer.
How it was?
Britain joined the European Union only on the third attempt. Charles de Gaulle didn’t let her in there.
The predecessor of the modern European Union is called an organization that arose in 1951. Then France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Italy signed the Treaty of Paris. This is how the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was born. In the middle of the last century, the idea of a common market as a guarantor of political stability on the continent was scaled up. Politicians believed that close economic ties would make wars pointless, so the ECSC would prevent another World War II.
In 1957, representatives of the association gathered in Rome and signed an agreement on the creation of the European Economic Community – EEC. The word “economic” should not be misleading, because the parties agreed not only on a common market, but also on political institutions. This is how the Assembly of the European Communities (the current European Parliament) and the Council of Ministers (aka the Council of the European Union) arose. The European Commission (actually the government) was created as part of the ECSC.
Four years after the Treaty of Rome, Great Britain wanted to join the community. This required the consent of all participants, and if it was still possible to agree with others, then France resisted to the last. The main opponent of the alliance with Britain was Charles de Gaulle. The President believed that the EEC is primarily the union of France and Germany, and the rest of the participants in the common market should remain on the sidelines.
De Gaulle believed that joining the alliance with neighbors from the north would not only upset the balance of power, but also complicate any future negotiations. In the British, he saw first of all an ally of the United States, which is unlikely to compromise for the sake of common European interests. In addition, Britain seemed to him a strong competitor for French agricultural producers. Charles de Gaulle defended the position to the last and twice vetoed the decision to include the United Kingdom in the EEC – at the votes in 1963 and 1967. However, under the next president, Georges Pompidou, it became easier to negotiate with France. In 1972, the parties came to an agreement, and the agreement on Britain’s accession to the EEC came into force on January 1 of the following year. Together with the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark joined the union.
Joining the EEC was celebrated with a festival of European values - with rock, Scandinavian design, Swan Lake and Johan Cruyff
In Britain, the end of negotiations and years of waiting was stormily celebrated. It was too early to calculate the economic effect of joining the EEC in January 1973, but the cultural one showed up immediately. The government of the country tried to make every Briton notice: a new era has begun for the United Kingdom. To do this, they came up with the Fanfare for Europe festival. In some ways, it was like the World Exhibitions that appeared in England in the middle of the 19th century, when all the best from the world of art, science and technology was brought to one place.
“Fanfares” not only honored the new member of the union, but also praised European cultural values. The festival included exhibitions of French Impressionism and Italian Futurism. Samples of Scandinavian design were brought from Denmark to London. A production of “Swan Lake” with Rudolf Nureyev (already a citizen of Austria, which, however, did not join the EEC), took place at Covent Garden.
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