A European Life: From War to Peace by Michael Tracy

By Michael Tracy

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This might start on a Monday and go on all week, with breaks for consultations or referrals to working parties; sometimes the President would have to keep the Council at work into the night of Friday to Saturday. Then at last, Ministers might be prepared to make the necessary concessions: on returning home they could defend their action by pointing out that they had struggled to the last. Sheer exhaustion also played a part. It was customary for a glass of whisky to be served at midnight, which may have had a mellowing effect; on the other hand, the unappetising “Council sandwiches” were a disincentive to prolonging the discomfort too long.

The Commission did not seek a highly protective system, but had to take account of political realities. Germany had, on the whole, the highest prices. France – often blamed for the subsequent excesses of the CAP – could have accepted lower levels, knowing its big grain producers would have a competitive advantage; the Netherlands had the lowest price levels. Inevitably, in view of pressure from farm organisations, the target prices finally agreed were closer to the German levels. The complex mechanisms incorporated features from previous policies in each of the Member States: in particular, market intervention by public bodies (deriving mainly from French practice) and variable import levies (from Germany, indeed from former Nazi policies).

E. principally her American ally) she would always choose the latter. And it was widely reported that in 1967, rejecting the conditions Britain was seeking in its second application, he had said: “L’Angleterre, je la veux nue…” (he denied this, amusingly but unconvincingly, at his subsequent press conference). His successor, Georges Pompidou, had fewer objections of principle, while Prime Minister Edward Heath’s success in getting agreement was largely due to his strong European commitment, and perhaps too his apparent lack of enthusiasm for the American “special relationship”.

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