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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 25. No. 13. 1962

Hanan Gives His Views On E.E.C

page 9

Hanan Gives His Views On E.E.C.

The New Zealand Government has made it clear on many occasions that it understands and appreciates the motives, political as well as economic, which have persuaded Britain that she should seek membership of the European Economic Community. But the Government has also made clear that, if Britain pursues I hat course without securing adequate safeguards for New Zealand's vital economic interested the threat to New Zealand economy would be of such a nature and on such a scale as to warrant the use of the word "disaster." In general it is true to in. that New Zealand is so preoccupied with immediate and concrete economic dangers that it is hardly in a position to concern Itself very actively with more distant possibilities such as the possible political or long-term economic implications of British entry. Inevitably, we have had to concentrate our attention, and our resources, on the grave problems immediately before us.

Joining Good

We are aware, however, of the strength of the British Government's conviction that, if Britain entered the Community, the Commonwealth association would be strengthened because Britain itself would be strengthened. We recognise that the ultimate decision to enter or not to enter must be Britain's alone, and that Britain herself must judge how best she maintain and increase her political and economic power. We also accept, In principle, the argument that a prosperous and politely influential Britain is essential to the prosperity and political influence of the Commonwealth as a whole.

Political Changes

Yet New Zealand's relations with Britain have always been so close that it is difficult for us to the implications of a new Situation in which Britain might be, more closely linked with its European neighbours than with its fellow members of the Common-wealth, If there is to be a closer political association in Western Europe the inclusion of Britain will doubtless help to give it stability and wise counsel. But if the political union of Western Europe Should become very closely knit, if a federal structure should develop, the effect on Britain's position as a sovereign nation with world-wide interests, and its position within the Commonwealth, would inevitably be affected. We realise that, in contemplating entry into the EEC, the British I Government has very much in mind the kind of political organization they wish to see develop in Europe. They will seek to negotiate a form of political union which does not cut across Britain's traditional Interests and alignments and they .seem confident that they will be able to resolve this possible conflict of interest.

This, of course, is a point of extreme importance to New Zealand. We are not only uniquely dependent on the United Kingdom market but we have innumerable ties, tangible and intangible, with the United Kingdom. As a member of the sterling bloc, for instance, New Zealand is acutely sensitive to any developments which may effect in any way the stability or convertibility of that currency. We also have long depended on United Kingdom cooperation in the field of defence.

Commonwealth Should Continue

New Zealand believes, moreover, that the Commonwealth, as I a multi-racial worldwide association of independent States, has a most important part to play in the international field. No other association can replace it. But the Commonwealth has also shown a unique capacity to change and survive. Despite our doubts and apprehensions, therefore, we are cautiously hopeful 'though our hope is not unmixed with anxiety) that the Commonwealth would be able to survive such a radical new state of affairs as is envisaged in British membership of the Community. All this depends, however, on whether, in entering the Community, Britain can arrive at arrangements which will protect the vital economic interests of the Individual Commonwealth members and provide them with continued, indeed expanding, opportunities for the trade on which their future depends. This, of course, is the crux of the problem for many Commonwealth countries, but for none is it of more urgent or vital concern than for New Zealand. At present, as the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference has stated we do not have enough precise information about the possible terms of British entry to say whether this essential condition be met.