• Michael J. Geary


Enlarging the European Union has presented a detailed analysis of how the policies of the European Commission tried, with varying degrees of success, to influence the outcome of the first enlargement of the present-day European Union. Of all the enlargement rounds since 1973, the first was perhaps the most politicised. The enlargement question presented the Commission with an opportunity to absorb more influence over the policy direction of the EEC during the 1960s and early 1970s. It had already achieved early successes developing the customs union, and the Community’s flagship CAP, and had built up an unrivalled knowledge of the acquis communautaire. These policy successes largely reflected the political and economic interests of the six member states, though they also pointed to the ambitions of the early Commissioners in implementing the Rome Treaties. Enlargement, though, was a different policy issue, and one that quickly became highly political in nature; it was a policy field that had wider implications for the Community, not just internally, but further afield. From the beginning to the end of the 1960s, enlargement was about power and influence. The United States had encouraged Britain to apply for membership in 1961, to break what it perceived as a growing and dangerous French hegemony in Western Europe. Inside the Community, the Dutch were also keen to see Britain as a member to curb French influence. Yet, France hit back, and for a decade shaped the Community around its national interests while keeping Britain and other countries outside and ignoring the wishes of its EEC partners.


Member State Policy Position Custom Union Acquis Communautaire Community Legislation 
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Copyright information

© Michael J. Geary 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael J. Geary
    • 1
  1. 1.Maastricht UniversityThe Netherlands

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