From the FT archive: EEC — Exciting times ahead: PM
This article was originally published in the Financial Times of January 1, 1973.
Britain has joined the Common Market — entering a new and challenging political and economic era with the New Year.
A movement begun in 1946 by Sir Winston Churchill’s visionary call for “a kind of United States of Europe” has thus been completed and the major objective of Mr. Edward Heath’s Government finally realised.
At the historic moment of Britain’s admission — diplomatically recognised as a minute after midnight in both Brussels and London despite the one hour time difference — the Prime Minister was returning from Ottawa. “A very exciting time is now beginning,” he said.
Mr. Heath called on the people to forget their fears and seize the opportunities open to them. “ This is only the first stage, the work is not completed.”
A united Europe would now begin to work towards new objectives, including the creation of a fresh balance with the U.S. in trade and monetary affairs, he added.
The enlargement of the Community — Denmark and the Irish Republic became members at the same time — was welcomed in all the capitals of Europe.
The flags of the nine nation members were raised at dawn in Brussels and were flown in London.
The latest opinion poll showed that 38 per cent. of Britons positively welcomed EEC entry while 39 per cent. were unhappy about it.
A day of prayer for the new Europe will be held in Westminster Abbey to-day, and Fanfare for Europe, an 11-day festival of the Arts, begins on Wednesday.
Amid the celebrations yesterday, however, Mr. Harold Wilson, the Opposition leader, said that the terms of entry would be “crippling" for the country.
He reaffirmed that a future Labour Government would renegotiate with the Community and let the people, still divided on the issue, have the last word.