14. Message From Prime Minister Macmillan to President Kennedy 0

Dear Mr. President, The exploratory talks with E.E.C. Governments, in which we have been engaged in recent months, have been taken as far as they can. It has now become clear that, if we are to discover whether membership of the European Economic Community is really open to the United Kingdom, it will be necessary to undertake formal negotiations. We have recently concluded consultations with other Commonwealth governments and have consulted the other members of the European Free Trade Association. Many and great difficulties remain to be resolved. Nevertheless, after long and earnest consideration Her Majesty’s Government have come to the conclusion that it would be right for Britain to apply to join the E.E.C. preparatory to negotiations with a view to securing satisfactory arrangements to meet the special needs of the United Kingdom of the Commonwealth and of E.F.T.A. I shall be making a statement to this effect in the House of Commons on July 31.

2. This is not the end of the road. Indeed it may well be only the beginning of what can still prove to be a most difficult and dangerous period for the future unity of Europe. When you wrote to me on May 22,1 you spoke of your conviction that the West would be greatly strengthened if the United Kingdom could become a full member of the E.E.C. These considerations have been very much in our minds in reaching the decision which we have now taken. But, as you will know, several Commonwealth governments—old and new—have expressed anxiety about the possible consequences which may result from negotiations between Britain and the Six. These anxieties, and our obligations to our partners in the European Free Trade Association impose clear limits on the freedom of action with which we can negotiate. I need hardly tell you how much I would value your encouragement and support in this great enterprise. We for our part will spare no efforts to bring the negotiations to a successful conclusion. Meanwhile, I hope that you will feel free to let me have your views at any time on these issues which are so vital for us all.2

With warm regard,

Harold Macmillan 3
  1. Source: Department of State, Presidential Correspondence: Lot 66 D 204. Top Secret.
  2. See Document 9.
  3. President Kennedy replied the same day stressing the good will and firm support that the United States had for the British decision, and concluding that in ways which the United States could be useful, the British could count on the United States “absolutely,” (Department of State, Presidential Correspondence: Lot 66 D 204)
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.