Common Market vs. The United States

October 13, 1971

Report Outline
Issues of Expanding the present
American Aims Involving European Unity
Atlantic Trade Problems and Opportunities
Special Focus

Issues of Expanding the present

American Stake in British Decision on Entering

Britain's approaching decision on whether to join the European Economic Community (“Common Market”) weighs heavily on this country's economic future. Economists on this side of the Atlantic are hopeful but apprehensive about an enlarged Common Market. They wonder whether it would become primarily a partner or competitor of the United States in world trade. American fears of the latter come at a time when economic troubles at home have brought on trade deficits and undermined the supremacy of the dollar in global commerce. The Common Market countries and Britain have been at odds with the United States over a number of economic restrictions—including a 10 per cent surcharge on imports—President Nixon imposed Aug. 15; in at least one instance they have warned that retaliation might be forthcoming.

The present six-member Common Market of France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg is already the world's largest trading bloc. Its exports of $45 billion in 1970 were greater than America's and amounted to nearly one-fifth of those shipped from industrial countries. If Parliament approves British entry when it votes the question Oct. 28, and then Ireland, Norway, Denmark follow, the community will become a 10-nation economic power accounting for almost one-third of all world trade. It also embraces a bigger population and more industrial workers than the United States. The target date for admission of all four countries is Jan. 1, 1973.

Parliamentary approval has been treated in the British press during recent weeks as a foregone conclusion. Prime Minister Edward Heath and the ruling Conservative Party are committed to taking Britain “into Europe” after years of rebuffs. “Tories who were dismayed by the effects of the Suez invasion in 1956, with its proof that Britain was no longer a first-class military power, have joined hands with a smaller group on the Left, who despaired of our miserable odyssey from one crisis to another,” the New Statesman commented editorially. They “see our membership of the EEC as a return ticket to power and prosperity.”

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