The Free Trade Area and the Construction of Great Britain’s European Policy, 1952-1958

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Great Britain’s European policy during the 1950s was not the abject failure as other scholars have portrayed it. Britain needed to re-evaluate its relationship with the Commonwealth, Europe, and Atlantic circles in the 1950s to reach the point where it could apply for EEC membership in the following decade. The 1950s were important in providing the impetus to revise Britain’s external priorities. In sum, beginning with the WEU plan and concluding with the FTA proposal, this period signaled a ‘historical departure’ for Britain and for Europe and was not a reaffirmation of the status quo.


“Good brings not only new evidence, but also a fresh perspective to bear on the issue. He makes three important revisionist arguments…..Good’s study is unique in his exploitation of Continental sources, notably unpublished Dutch cabinet papers, that illustrate how much support the FTA enjoyed on the Continent…. The reader will find here a more generous assessment of the British negotiators, and a far harsher assessment of their French counterparts than those in other recent revisionist Studies….In addition to the unpublished Dutch cabinet papers referred to above, Good’s study is based on research in British, and American archives, buttressed by published primary sources in German and French.” – Douglas J. Forsyth, Bowling Green State University

“… an insightful and informative book that takes a new look at Britain’s European policy in the mid-to-late 50’s….Good’s use of Continental sources, particularly Dutch cabinet papers, enhanced by British and American archival materials and published German and French primary sources, make this work especially good. It is of current value as discussions inside the European Union continue to focus on federal and interstate agreements that would bind together the nations of Western Europe.” – Stephanie W. McConnell, Red Rocks Community College

“The reader is confident that Good has provided an accurate and exhaustive investigation of British foreign policy during the 1950’s. Given the depth of detail and the cross-discipline approach, I anticipate that this book will become essential reading for those interested in the history of the European Union, the history of Western Europe, British politics/history and British foreign policy.” – Neal G. Jesse, Bowling Green State University

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
Preface; Introduction
1. Britain’s False Dawn: The West German Rearmament Question and Eden’s Solution, 1950-1954
2. The Revenge of the “Federalists”: Messina, the Brussels Conference, and British Abstinence, 1955
3. Regaining the Initiative?: Plan G, Suez, and the Spaak Report, December 1955-December 1956
4. Addressing Mistakes: Britain’s European Policy Initiatives, January December 1957
5. “Shadowboxing”: Maneuvering for Position and the Resumption of FTA negotiations, October 1957-March 1958
6. The Endgame: Putting the Free Trade Area to Bed, March-December 1958
Conclusion; Bibliography; Index

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