8. Telegram From the Embassy in the United Kingdom to the Department of State 0

4726. Paris for Embassy and USRO. Brussels for Embassy and USEC. Pass McGeorge Bundy. From Ball. Following summary of conversation with Heath and Barclay May 18 re UK-EEC relations:1

Heath described his speech in Commons May 17 as “opening gun in grand debate.” It represented beginning of campaign to educate “Conservative Party and country generally about issues involved in UK moving into Common Market. This is necessary first step to reaching point where government can make decision; Heath felt good progress was being made in this direction. Re position of Labor Party, Heath agreed that they would not oppose outright UK entry into Common Market and in any event were not united or strong enough to prevent government from moving ahead.
Heath welcomed reiteration of US position that basic decision was one for Britain to make and US does not want to appear to be pushing UK. He said that from public presentation point of view it could not appear that HMG was doing anything under pressure rather than on merits of issues.
Heath described aide-mémoire we had given to Caccia 2 as very useful. Also expressed appreciation for clarification of US position re other EFTA countries more bargaining power with Six and therefore they are very sensitive to any reports that Britain would join without them, [sic] At recent EFTA meeting in Geneva UK attempted to get down to details with other EFTA countries. However, Barclay reported that most of them had not yet clarified their thoughts on how they want negotiations with Six to proceed. While other EFTA countries still emphasizing importance of UK not moving alone, Barclay said idea of separate arrangement for other EFTA countries “seemed to have gotten through.” He confirmed that Denmark and probably Norway would also go into Common Market. Position of Sweden and Switzerland still not clear, but opinion seems to be moving toward close association. Austrians have particular difficulty with idea of common commercial [Page 19] policy which might mean application of quotas against USSR. Generally agreed at EFTA meeting that all EFTA countries would have to be in wider market in some way—some accepting Treaty of Rome and others being associated in Customs Union. Barclay reported that matter will be discussed further at EFTA Ministerial Meeting in London next month. Re technique of carrying out negotiations between Six and other EFTA countries, Heath said UK officials working out paper on this and will keep in touch with US.
Heath did not react to Ball’s observation that we tended to feel there was nothing much US could usefully do at this time with the Six in view of the danger that any intervention might be considered “Anglo-Saxon conspiracy”. On US position re other EFTA countries. Heath said would be useful if we talked further with neutrals—in particular Swedes who are still thinking in terms of plans to bring Six and Seven together as groups. Heath seemed to accept US position that arrangements for neutrals would have to be looked at individually on merits and approval could not be given in advance. Heath also appeared to agree would be useful to think in terms of some EFTA countries joining EEC and others working out special arrangements later.
Heath did not give direct answer to question re timing of Britain’s decision. He said further discussions with French scheduled for next month. In these talks there would be discussion of non-trade aspects of Rome Treaty. Further work would also have to be done on Commonwealth trade problem. Usefully, EFTA Ministerial Meeting in June would clarify EFTA problem. There was also question of attitude of Six. In light of developments on these problems and movement of public opinion as result of parliamentary discussion, HMG hoped to be getting closer to time when they could make up their mind.
Re attitude of EEC Commission, British have impression that Mansholt, Rey and Marjolin are more flexible and that Commission position on UK joining Common Market now being formulated. Agreed that Hallstein is somewhat more concerned about British entry from point of view of possible setback in progress which has been made toward cooperation among the Six and acceptance of role of EEC Commission. Recognized that attitude UK adopted in entering Common Market would be important factor in quieting Commission’s fears.
Impression from discussion with Heath and other UK officials is that UK Government has made tentative decision to go into Common Market assuming that the several elements (UK parliamentary and public opinion, particularly agricultural interests EFTA and Commonwealth) bearing on this decision can be satisfactorily cleared up. When the big decision will be taken depends on progress in these fields.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 375.800/5–1961. Confidential. Repeated to Bonn, Brussels, Bern, Lisbon, Copenhagen, Oslo, The Hague, Stockholm, Luxembourg, Vienna, and Rome. Ball was in Europe to discuss textiles in preparation for GATT and OECD meetings.
  2. A memorandum of this conversation is ibid., Conference Files: Lot 65 D 366, CF 1874A. Sir Roderick Barclay was Adviser on European Trade Questions in the Foreign Office.
  3. See Document 5.