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Challenge to the community: the creation, crisis and consolidation of the European Free Trade Association, 1958-72

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On 15 December 1958, the negotiations over an industrial free trade area (FTA) in Western Europe, which had been conducted in Paris in the Maudling Committee of the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC) since October 1957, finally broke down. One month previously, on 14 November, the French Information Minister Jacques Soustelle had declared publicly that the FTA was unacceptable to France without extensive tariff harmonisation and substantial compensatory concessions in agriculture – all of which, however, were unobtainable in the negotiations. At that time the British government was already aware of the final French decision against the FTA. During a meeting in London on 6 November with the British Foreign Secretary Selwyn Lloyd and the leader of the British delegation in the Paris negotiations Reginald Maudling, the French Foreign Minister Maurice Couve de Murville had rejected the FTA plan. The following day Prime Minister Harold Macmillan once more tried to persuade Charles de Gaulle in a private letter to continue the negotiations, but the French President merely replied in a very matter-of-fact tone one day after Soustelle's statement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-33
JournalJournal of European Integration History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1997


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