The crises and the relaunch of the EEC

Crises and recovery of the EEC

In the mid-1960s, the European Economic Community (EEC) was shaken by a number of crises. The main cause was General de Gaulle’s policy on Europe: he sought to reshape France’s position in the EEC by keeping the latter’s supranational powers to a minimum and by pursuing intergovernmental cooperation among Member States as an alternative. The failure, on 17 April 1962, of the Fouchet Plan for a ‘Union of States’ and France’s refusal of the British application for accession to the Common Market, on 14 January 1963, built up further tensions with the Five.

Even the Franco-German rapprochement embodied in the Élysée Treaty of 22 January 1963 was not enough to defuse the crisis within the Community. It reached its peak in what is known as the ‘empty chair’ crisis in 1965, when French delegates no longer participated in Community activities, effectively bringing the Community’s institutions to a standstill.

The crisis ended with the ‘Luxembourg Compromise’ of 29 January 1966, which allowed any Member State to oppose a Community decision adopted by the majority if it considered its national interests to be seriously threatened. The Community was revived with the Treaty of 8 April 1965 on the merger of the executive bodies and that of 11 May 1966 governing the financing of the common agricultural policy (CAP).

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