The Impact on Britain

  • Edward Nevin


In the early months of 1970, when the departure of President de Gaulle had once more revived the possibility of British membership of the Community, a Labour government was in office and under its direction a White Paper, Britain and the European Communities: an Economic Assessment (Cmd 4289), was published setting out the official estimates of the likely consequences of membership. The main features of these are shown in Table 11.1. The view was taken that, so far as trade in manufactures was concerned, both imports from and exports to the Community would be increased by much the same extent so that gains from net trade creation in manufactured goods were not expected to be of any significant amount. This was not entirely unreasonable; the average UK tariff was now only around 6 per cent and its abolition on intra-Community trade could be expected to have only relatively small effects. That there would be substantial trade diversion in agricultural products was however a certainty, given the need for Britain to participate in the Common Agricultural Policy and thus switch imports from the traditional low-cost producers — the British Commonwealth and the United States — to relatively high-cost producers in Europe. The magnitude of this would depend on the elasticity of demand for food, and thus the effects of price increases on consumption, and on the elasticity of supply from domestic agriculture and the output responses to those same price increases. On an optimistic view the net loss by 1980, when the transitional period would have been completed, would be the equivalent of about ECU 2.3 bn; on a more pessimistic view it was put at about ECU 3.7 bn.

Table 11.1

UK Static Gains and Losses from EC Membership, 1980 (ECU bn at 1986 prices)


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Further Reading

  1. Davenport, M., ‘The economic impact of the EEC’, in A. Boltho (ed.), The European Economy (London: Oxford University Press, 1982).Google Scholar
  2. El-Agraa, A. M. (ed.), Britain within the European Community (London: Macmillan, 1983).Google Scholar
  3. Harvey, D., and Thomson, K. J., ‘Costs, benefits and the future of the Common Agricultural Policy’, Journal of Common Market Studies, Vol. XXIV, No. 1, September 1985.Google Scholar
  4. Jenkins, R. (ed.), Britain and the EEC (London: Macmillan, 1982).Google Scholar
  5. Mayes, D. G., ‘The effects of economic integration on trade’, Journal of Common Market Studies, Vol. XVII, No. 1, September 1978.Google Scholar
  6. Wallace, W. (ed.), Britain in Europe (London: Heinemann, 1980).Google Scholar
  7. Winters, L., ‘Britain in Europe: a Survey of quantitative studies’, Journal of Common Market Studies, Vol. XXV, No. 4, June 1987.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Edward Nevin 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward Nevin
    • 1
  1. 1.University College of SwanseaUK

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