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House of Commons Hansard
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European Economic Community
23 November 1965
Volume 721

Q12.

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asked the Prime Minister if, at the earliest opportunity and in consultation with Great Britain's partners in the European Free Trade Association, he will seek to further the concept of European unity, and to prevent further damage to that concept and to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, by means of a new British initiative towards the European Economic Community.

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The European Free Trade Association Ministerial Council at its meeting last month reaffirmed the initiative Her Majesty's Government took at the Vienna meeting, and is pressing the community for discussions aimed at ending the economic division of Western Europe.

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While welcoming that reply, may I ask the Prime Minister whether it is not time that a further initiative was taken by Her Majesty's Government, because the 19th-century policies of the French President are placing the European Economic Community, and, indeed, possibly N.A.T.O., in jeopardy? Is it not time for the British Government to drop their policy of passivity and take the initiative?

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I am not sure that immediately after the return of the Leader of the Opposition from Paris—we all welcome him back—we should have these phrases of criticism of the French President in that form. We have on both sides of the House taken the view that it is not for us to intervene in the dis- agreement within the Community, taking one side or the other. All of us have expressed, as the right hon. Gentleman did yesterday, our deep concern and also our very sincere hope that the difficulties will be overcome as soon as possible.

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Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether he is prepared to contemplate an initiative on his part which is less hamstrung with a lot of conditions than the one which he described previously?

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We took an initiative at Vienna, and we are now awaiting the response from the Community. We fully understand that, because of difficulties in the Community, it is difficult for it at this stage to respond to our initiative.