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THE EUROPEAN UNION

The two twentieth century world wars have radically changed Great Britain standing
as a world power and accelerated changes in her economy. Britain cease to dominate
the ocean high ways, a state of affairs already apparent after the first world war, when
in January 1942 general Wavell told Winston Churchill that Japan could not be
prevented from capturing Singapore, it was all too evident that, unaided, great Britain
could no longer simultaneously sustain armed forces in Europe, the Middle East and
in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Nasser’s seizure of the Suez canal on 26th July 1956,
and the subsequent humiliating withdrawal of British and French forces from the
canal zone in November, brought to the people of Britain the realisation that the
gunboat age of diplomacy had vanished beyond recall. The super powers of the world
were now the U.S.A and U.S.S.R with a third communist threatening to emerge in the
near future. The transition from wartime to a peacetime economy was effected with
less dislocation and popular unrest in 1919. The Keynesian policy expansion
increased employment rates, production of electricity and coal. The Keynesian policy
was not followed as a result of the post war balance of payment crises. Great Britain
had an adverse balance of payments totalling £344 million, which by 1947 had
increased to £545 million. In addition, during the war years, during the war years, she
had persuaded other countries to provide her with commodities in exchange for paper
pounds. Confidence in the stability of the paper pounds was such that she was able to
accumulate a vast volume of external indebtedness. In 1946 the sterling balances
amounted to £3755 million, two thirds of this being held by countries in the sterling
area. British balance of payment was intensified by the dollar gap because there were
high exports of goods and services to the U.S.A than imports. This resulted in Britain
withdrawing from India, Ceylon and Burma and later the mandate for Palestine was
given up.
In 1950, the conservative governments were no more successful than their
predecessor in finding an acceptable solution to the balance of payments problem.
Deflationary measures introduced by Mr Selwyn Lloyd (chancellor of the exchequer)
caused reduction in economy growth.
European grouping which subsequently came into existence, involving no pooling of
sovereignty, included N.A.T.O and the council of Europe. Of these Great Britain
became a member. Great Britain did not join any supra- national authorities, which
regarded loss of sovereignty. April 1951 a treaty was signed creating the European
Coal and Steel Community, members were France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Holland
and Luxembourg, to control the common markets for coal and steel products, the two
most essential war materials. In December 1954 Britain signed a treaty of association
with the community under which the board of trade, the minister of fuel and power
will represent her and the chairman of the coal and iron and steel boards. Members of
the community sought to extend the common market to other commodities resulting
to the signing of the Treaty of Rome establishing the European Economic Community
(E.E.C), popularly known as the common market. The treaty provided subject to
unanimous agreement, for a political union and the election of a European parliament.
Between 1958, the first year of common market, and 1961 industrial production rose
up rapidly in all the six member countries than in Great Britain. A favourable balance
of trade was obtained, while between 1958 and 1962 wage rate rose by 33% in
Germany, by 27% in France, by 17% in Italy, and by 20% in Holland, but by 16% in
Great Britain. The standard of living in Great Britain could not be sustained by
relying on the production of commodities exported in the age of steam. She therefore
had to debate the advisability of seeking closer links with her European neighbours
and failure to do so will reveal her relatively small producing units in future to
hazardous competition with tariff protected European firms. In 1959 E.F.T.A was
formed consisting only of Great Britain, Austria, Portugal, Switzerland and the three
Scandinavian countries. To the seven Finland was added in 1961 as an associate
member. It intended to be a bargaining ground for Britain with E.E.C but it misfired,
for it merely seemed to confirm to French suspicion that Britain’s interest in Europe
was narrowly commercial. In august 1961 the Macmillan government made an
application to the E.E.C after political and economic pressure to join the E.E.C. the
French president, General de Gaulle, opposed to this to strengthen French influence
and power. This was not the major cause of Britain being refused but also the
sterling’s weakness and it’s role as an international reserve currency, British links
with America, the commonwealth and E.F.T.A, tariff levels, the economic union
provisions of the Treaty of Rome and differing agricultural policy. On January 2,
1960 the European free trade agreement was signed in Stockholm by seven European
countries who were not members of the European community but wish to enjoy the
benefits of a free trade relationship. Austria, Denmark, Great Britain, Norway,
Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland were the first to join E.F.T.A. The levelling of
British exports in the mid-1960’s increased her chance of entry.

In May 1967, a new application was made to the E.E.C with support from the House
of Commons. The Benelux was in support of this, Germany equivocal and France still
proved unsympathetic as Britain was in the 1950’s. De Gaulle vetoed the bill but
future occurrence in France and the weakness of the franc were in Britain’s support.
In September, the new chancellor of West Germany opposed to France after de
Gaulle’s retirement and the terms of Britain’s entry was stated under the treaty of
accession in January 1972 and in 1973 Britain entered the E.E.C.
The E.E.C rids members of their power, sovereignty and supremacy making the
central European parliament supreme over members. The E.U court becomes the
Supreme Court and has the final say and all E.U laws must be fully and uniformly
applied in all the member states from the date of their entry into force in accordance
with the principle of precedence of community law. The creation of new laws by the
E.U affects the state of order in the UK because it makes void the constitution of the
country and other member states. The laws of each member states are modified to
balance with the laws of the E.U and any member states who does not abide will be
sanctioned. The E.U is metamorphosing into a political union where separate national
political institutions and local laws can still exist, but this are submerged below
overarching and much more powerful institutions and legal frameworks covering the
whole of the nation. On the other side joining the E.U has done some merits to the
U.K economy. European integration allows for a lager financial market and better
access for better financing for corporate, national and sub national borrowers and a
wider production market leading to broader access to range of goods for consumers
and companies. It also helps reduce tariffs through construction of free trade zone
with little or no tariffs. It has also led to greater international travel, tourism, and
immigration, including illegal immigration, spread of local consumer products, music
and pop culture and sporting events.
Countries in the economic union have become wealthier and the standard of living of
the people of member state has improved than any other country, making them to live
various kind of lifestyle.

In conclusion, the E.U has done well to the British economy, by increasing the
economic growth and standard of living, but the neutralising of her constitution and
making that of E.U parliament supreme has caused her to regret joining in 1973. New
laws are made every now and then and her laws are seen as local laws. Many
historians and economists have written books about our joining and its downside.
Information about our joining was obtained from a secondary source, which analysed
and interpreted the reason for our joining and the date we joined were also given.
Names of the pioneers of the E.U and names of other country that joined were well
documented. The source was reliable and pictures of leaders signing the treaty of
Rome were also included.
BIBLIOGRAPHY

 British social and economical history, Peter Lance, spottiswoode ballantyne


limited, 1979.
 Mastering economic and social history, David Taylor, Macmillan education
ltd, 1988.
 British political history 1867-2001, Malcolm Pearce and Geoffrey Stewart,
Routledge, 2002.
 Modern England, R.K Webb, Harper and Row, Inc, 1980.

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