Tuesday, 27 November 2018

The UK and the EU: when we were friends in 1972

With the Conservative Government in an almighty complex mess over how to extricate the UK from the European Union after 45 years' membership, below are some extracts from the European Commission Annual Report for  1972, looking at the  European political situation when the UK joined the European Economic Community, the predecessor to the European Union:








on the

Activities of the Communities



February 1973



Presentation of the General Report for 1972 and programme of the Commission for

1973 XI

(Address by Mr François-Xavier Ortoli, President of the Commission of the

European Communities, to the European Parliament on 13 February 1973)

1972, crucial year XI

Gradual emergence of a European identity XII

Definition of Europe's place in the world XIII

Setting Europe on the road to irreversible union XVII

Concern for the human element and desire for participation XXVI

An overall process in the light of an overall vision XXXII



1972 was a crucial year, in the fullest sense of the word,

in the Community's development. It was the last year of the

Community of the Six and it saw the establishment of interim

mechanisms and procedures by which the applicant States were

associated with the activities of the Community, so that the

integration of these States which is now taking place could go

forward smoothly. In fact, the Community of the Nine was a

political reality in 1972 before it became a legal reality at the

beginning of 1973.

This political reality of the enlarged Community found

expression at the Conference of Heads of State or Government

held in Paris from 19 to 21 October last. The scope of the action

which the conference envisaged, the variety of spheres which it

opened up to Community jurisdiction, and the vigorous stimulus

which it gave to the Community institutions, are a measure of

its success. That success was to a large extent the result of the

serious manner in which the Conference was prepared and of

the political will so strongly expressed; but it was also attributable

to the advances made in various fields during the preceding



The intentions and the commitments set out in the Final

Communiqué of the Summit Conference must now be turned

into official acts—or rather into actions. Ever-present in the

minds of those taking part in the Conference was a concern

to establish a European identity. In this, they were expressing

a heartfelt desire, shared by all our peoples, to differentiate

ourselves from the rest of the world, not only to play our own

role in the world and thus take Europe's destiny into our own

hands, but also to formulate and implement the plan for a

civilisation which, to quote Léon Blum, would again be human.

If a European identity is to emerge, Europe's place in the

world must first be defined. Then Europe must be given a

form of organisation, a structure which, through the interplay

of economic, monetary, social, industrial, regional and other

policies, would put it on the road towards irreversible union.

Finally, all our actions must be guided by human concern and

a willingness to participate, precisely because today the main

lines of a new civilisation need to be laid down.

But before discussing these three points, I must tell you

how fully, in its first months of operations, the New Commission

has taken the measure of the task before it and the

limited time available, and thus realised that if the work is to

be done properly and punctually we have to get organised.

This is why we were determined to lose no time in allocating

responsibilities among the members of the Commission, drawing

up timetables and establishing working methods which would

ensure consistency and speed.

In doing this we took particular care to retain and develop

the collegiate nature of our work. We shall make a systematic

effort to ensure that the need for speed, and the need to allocate

duties in the preparatory work to those who can best fulfil

them, will in no way detract from our collegiate responsibility,

which is growing stronger despite differences of temperament

or opinion. We all have the same conception of our task, and

share a common team spirit.

Definition of Europe's place in the world

As regards external relations, in the next few months the

enlarged Community will have to assume responsibilities

commensurate with its weight in the world.

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The role played by the Six vis-à-vis the outside world was

already a proof of the 'European presence'.

But enlargement, the will to build up the Europe of the

Nine as expressed in the Declaration of the Paris Summit, the

awareness throughout the world of what we represent, give a

new economic and—let us face the fact—political dimension

to the definition and conduct of the Community's international

relations. This comes at a time when the facts of international

political and economic relations to which we have been accustomed

since the end of the Second World War are undergoing

profound changes. The Community itself is, of its very nature,

a dynamic force and this, together with the Community achievements

which cement together the Europe of the Nine, should

enable it to make an original contribution, through dialogue

and negotiation, to the establishment of a new international

economic order.


Concern for the human element and desire for participation

To speak of a Europe which will serve mankind is first and

foremost to seek to put into effect a broad-based social policy

and play an active part in protecting and improving the environment.

But it also means setting out to make our peoples

participate, directly and indirectly, in the work of building


The Heads of State and Government reminded us that

vigorous action in the social field cannot be dissociated from

the realisation of Economic and Monetary Union. They also

asked the institutions of the Community to draw up a programme

of action in the social field by 1 January 1974, having consulted

both sides of industry.

We shall therefore be stepping up our activities in the

fields of employment and living and working conditions.


I also measure how difficult it is, with so many programmes,

dates, technical details, to make our peoples understand vital

importance for each citizen of work which sometimes lacks

lustre. Alas, very often the impression people have of our joint

endeavours is not one of imagination, boldness or political will,

ever though they are the underlying inspiration. It is here that

the need arises to associate the peoples of Europe in building

the Community.





1. Entry into force of the accession treaties

Ratification of the Acts of Accession

6. Ratification took place during 1972 of the acts relating to the accession to

the European Communities of the Kingdom of Denmark, Ireland and the

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which were signed at

Brussels on 22 January 1972.1

The Norwegian Government, which had originally signed the acts on

22 January informed the President of the Council on 9 October that following

the unfavourable result of the advisory referendum held on 25 September 1972

(53.49% against and 46.51% in favour) it would not bring the Ratification

Bill before the Norwegian Parliament.

The Community of Six

7. In Germany the Ratification Bill was adopted unanimously by the Bundestag

on 21 May 1972 and by the Bundesrat on 7 July 1972. The vote in the

Belgian Chamber took place on 7 December 1972 (164 in favour and 5 against

(communists)) and in the Senate on 29 June 1972 (138 in favour, one abstention).

In France the referendum on 21 April 1972 (67.86% in favour, 32.14%

against) concluded the ratification procedure. In Italy the Chamber gave final

approval to the acts on 6 December and the Senate on Tuesday 19 December.

In Luxembourg the Parliament ratified the Acts of Accession on 17 October

1972 (fifty deputies voted for the ratification and six (Communists) against).

In the Netherlands the Second Chamber adopted the Ratification Bill on

1 For the signature of the Treaties of Accession see the Fifth General Report: Introduction

and Chapter II.

6th GEN. REP. EC


14 September 1972 (unanimously apart from the Communists, the Socialistpacifists

and one other member). The first Chamber voted unanimously in

favour on 14 November except for the three Communist Senators.

Acceding countries

8. In Denmark the Queen signed the draft Treaty on 11 October 1972 after

the favourable result of the referendum which had taken place on 2 October

(63.5% in favour, 36.5 against). The results of the referendum of 10 May 1972

on the amendments to the Irish Constitution necessary for Ireland's accession

to the Communities were as follows: 83.1% in favour, 16.9% against.

In the United Kingdom the House of Commons gave the Bill a third

reading on 14 July 1972; the House of Lords did likewise on 20 September 1972.

The Royal Assent declared to Parliament on 16 October concluded the ratification


Interim period

9. The "Procedure for the adoption of certain Decisions and new Measures

to be taken during the period preceding Accession" annexed to the Final

Act of this Negotiating Conference stipulated that as soon as preparatory

work at Community level, with a view to the adoption of decisions by the Council,

had produced common guidelines enabling consultations to be usefully

arranged, such consultations should be held if an acceding State should make a

reasoned request for them.

In practice the acceding States have requested consultations on a number

of subjects, for example economic and monetary union, fixing of agricultural

prices, guidelines for the negotiations with the EFTA Member States and

Associates which had not applied for membership and with certain countries

of the Mediterranean Basin, and directives relating to the approximation of

the Member States' legislation. The consultations took place within an Interim

Committee composed of representatives of the Communities and of the acceding

States. The Commission, which took part in the Committee's work, played an

active role in the development of this procedure by using its right of initiative to

take into account the existing position and to assess the different situations

which will arise in the enlarged Community.

Further, the representatives of the acceding States were associated as

observers, side by side with the representatives of the present Member States,

with the work on the negotiation of agreements with the EFTA countries which

6th GEN. REP. EC


have not applied for membership of the Communities, and also the negotiation

of certain amendments to the preferential agreements concluded under the

Treaties establishing the European Communities—for example the agreements

concluded with certain countries in the Mediterranean Basin—and certain nonpreferential

agreements concluded by the Community which remain in force

after 1 January 1973.

10. As regards the Commission, any of its proposals and communications

which could lead to decisions by the Council were made known to the acceding

States as soon as they had been forwarded to the Council. Moreover when

drawing up its proposals or communications the Commission took all the

necessary factors into account to judge the effects of those proposals in the

light of the enlargement of the Community.

Moreover so as to ensure that its own desisions take due account of the

interests of the acceding States, the Commission has consulted them before

adopting any decision which might affect them as future members of the


In the light of the experience gained since 22 January last, the procedure

laid down by the Conference may be said to have functioned to the satisfaction

of all concerned. Moreover, it has given the acceding States the opportunity

to become familiar gradually with the working of the Community's institutions.

In this context it must be emphasized that since the beginning of October 1972

the acceding States have taken part as observers in the meetings of certain

institutional organs (e.g. special agriculture committee, agricultural management

committees, customs committees, and Monetary Committee since

24 March 1972).

Adaptation of the acts of the Institutions

11. In accordance with Article 30 of the Act of Accession adaptations of the

acts listed in Annex II to that Act were drawn up in conformity with the guidelines

specified therein and according to the procedure and in the manner

stipulated in Article 153 of the Act of Accession.

Applicability of the acts of the Institutions

12. Article 155 of the Act of Accession stipulates that the texts of the acts of

the institutions of the Communities adopted before accession and drawn up

by the Council or the Commission in the English and Danish languages shall,

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from the date of accession, be authentic under the same conditions as the texts

drawn up in the original four languages.

The Commission has therefore translated the texts in question, or revised

them, in collaboration with the British and Danish authorities and the Secretariat

of the Council.

Adjustment of the instruments upon non-accession by Norway

13. The Council of the enlarged Community adopted on 1 January 1973 a

decision adjusting the instruments concerning the accession of new Member

States to the Communities because Norway had not deposited its instruments

of accession and had not become a member of the Communities. The main

adjustments, apart from certain specific references to the Kingdom of Norway

being declared non-applicable by this decision, are the following:


(a) The Council is composed of nine members, one for each country.

(b) Qualified majority with weighting of votes:

The votes of the members of the Council are weighted as follows: Germany

10, France 10, Italy 10, United Kingdom 10, Belgium 5, Netherlands 5,

Denmark 3, Ireland 3, Luxembourg 2, total 58. The qualified majority,

in the case of a decision on a proposal from the Commission, requires

at least 41 votes. If the Council is not acting on a proposal from the

Commission, a decision requires 41 votes expressing the approval of at

least 6 members.


Following another Council decision of 1 January 1973 based on Article 10

of the Treaty establishing a single Council and a single Commission of the

European Communities, the number of members of the Commission is 13.

The number of vice-presidents of the Commission continues to be 5.

European Parliament

The number of the members of the Parliament becomes 198, broken down

as follows:

Germany 36, France 36, Italy 36, United Kingdom 36, Belgium 14,

Netherlands 14, Denmark 10, Ireland 10, Luxembourg 6.

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Economic and Social Committee

The total number of members of the ESC becomes 144, distributed as

follows: Germany 24, France 24, Italy 24, United Kingdom 24, Belgium 12,

Netherlands 12, Denmark 9, Ireland 9, Luxembourg 6.

Court of Justice

The Court of Justice will be composed of nine Judges and will be assisted

by 4 Advocates-General.

European Investment Bank

The Bank's capital amounts to 2 025 million units of account. For a

qualified majority of the Board of Directors 12 votes are required.

Other Committees

The number of members of Euratom's Scientific and Technical Committee

is to be 27, with 5 members for the United Kingdom, and one each for

Denmark and Ireland. For the other committees set up by Community

secondary legislation, the number of members will be adapted to the

new circumstances of enlargement.

Application of the system of own resources

The financial contributions of the new Member States to the budget of

the Communities will be as follows:

(i) Denmark

(ii) Ireland

(iii) United Kingdom