Prime Minister of Denmark

Speech made to the Assembly

Wednesday, 24 January 1973

Mr President, may I begin by expressing my gratitude for the opportunity I have been given today of addressing the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe.

I cannot embark upon my statement, however, without expressing my happiness at the message of hope we received this morning, telling us that the war in Vietnam is coming to an end. It is to be hoped that the unspeakable sufferings endured by the Vietnamese people for so many years will now cease. Both national and international efforts will now be required to bring help to this devastated country and to ensure its reconstruction.

I want also to say how glad I am to be addressing the Assembly at a moment when Europe is on the threshold of a new era. More than ever since the last war, I believe we all share the feeling that a new epoch is opening in the history of Europe, and indeed of the world.

I should like to call attention to two aspects in particular of the present trend, for it is on these that this feeling of mine is based.

In the first place there is technical and economic development, which is changing society more and more and has a deep effect on all our lives. It raises endless new problems and throws down new challenges, which make themselves felt far beyond national frontiers and give many people the sense of being powerless and at the mercy of completely inhuman forces.

Secondly, there is a political development, a post-war dream, which took shape on 5 May 1949, and now seems to be finding new lines of approach, encouraging the hope that it may be possible to create forms of co-operation which will solve these new problems and meet these new challenges – on condition, of course, that we have the imagination, the courage and the ability to make full use of them.

My country’s attitude is naturally very much influenced by the fact that, since 1 January 1973, Denmark has become the only Nordic country to be a Member of the European Community. The referendum on this question which took place in Denmark in October 1972 made it quite dear that there was a definite majority in favour of our country’s participation in this form of international co-operation. The debate which preceded the referendum gave the whole population of Denmark an opportunity to do some heart-searching and to decide what we really wanted and what should be the aims of European cooperation. In this debate, the anti-Marketeers were influenced by their fear of Denmark’s being swallowed up by the large countries and by an unwieldy bureaucratic machine. The pro-Marketeers, who represented two thirds of the votes cast, stressed the strong economic gains to be won by Denmark’s joining the European Community. They also found it promising that the large nations, who formerly went to war both militarily and economically, were now busy cooperating. To summarise the debate and its conclusion – on which the Danish pro- and anti-Marketeers seem to be largely agreed – I would say that we were in agreement on the need for greater co-operation in Europe – and still are – but that we disagreed when we had to decide on the form that co-operation should take and on the extent to which our country should abandon its sovereignty. But, as I have said, everyone was agreed on the need for greater co-operation in Europe.

The enlarged European Community seems to me to have made a promising start. We were present at its send-off and made our contribution to the launching. I find proof enough of this good augury in the decisions taken at the Summit Conference in Paris on 19 and 20 October 1972 and the statements made at the opening of the new Community a few weeks ago. There is agreement on all sides about the new target, which is to improve the quality of life and to create a Europe prepared to assume its responsibilities as one of the richest areas in the world, and it looks as if a new and constructive determination to co-operate is being born. We shall soon see how strong that determination will prove when attacked by private interests.

Relations between the super-powers make it more than ever essential that Europe should have a voice of its own. The dialogue between the super-powers is very much concerned with technical advances in armaments, and, in view of other factors which operate on the world stage, is tending to show that it is no longer so much in the traditional field of security that the great problems will arise in future. Undoubtedly there will always be a need for armed forces, and we can hardly give up our systems of alliances. The world – including Europe – has still a long way to go before these ideas can be consigned to the dustbin. Détente is dependent on the existence and “credibility” of security systems. I think that fact will underlie all the discussions at the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe which is now in preparation. The happy development in relations between the two Germanies is certainly the result of a political will, but there too the present security systems have played a decisive part.

That said, I believe we are on the way to a period where quite different problems will occupy the mind and heart of man. The eternal battle between the peoples will tend to take the form of emulation in organising society “nearer to the heart’s desire” or, in other words, of rivalry in improving the quality of life.

The new Community, which saw the light of day on 1 January 1973, will be a decisive factor in the development of Europe. In many fields it will become the centre for far-reaching decisions, and not only for its member countries. It gives me great pleasure to take this opportunity of proclaiming the Danish Government’s desire to see the new EEC adopt an open-door attitude to the world outside the Community. At this Assembly it is natural to mention in this connection the member countries of the Council of Europe which are not Members of the Community, and there is not one of them with which we do not hope to co-operate as closely as possible. But the open-door policy cannot stop there. The Community must recognise its obligations; it must shoulder the responsibilities which devolve upon it – as a partner in co-operation – in connection with the other industrialised countries of the West, the United States of America and Canada, with the Soviet Union and the communist world, and also with the developing countries.

The Danish Government hopes that the nine Community countries will pool their efforts in opposing that narrow materialism which many people seem to believe – though wrongly – has up to new characterised co-operation among the Six.

I hope no one will misunderstand what I am trying to say. I know very well that material progress is the basis of our existence and of our activities, and that that basis must be assured. The new line that I hope and believe will be followed by the Community as its principal target may well be the improvement of the quality of life. In fact that was a point on which the Paris Summit was agreed.

This brings me back to the technical and economic development which changes our daily lives to an ever-growing extent, raises new problems and throws down new challenges.

The by-products of the growing prosperity of the rich countries make us realise that wealth also has its problems which we must learn to overcome. We want to maintain a high level of employment and to ensure good material conditions for our peoples, but we do not want to be smothered by the waste-products of industrial production. Respect for the natural cycle must be the Leitmotiv of politicians’ efforts to direct the onward march of society towards improving the quality of life. This also, under another head, affects environmental policy. I am thinking here of greater opportunities for man in his daily life, how to ensure to every man his rightful place and an opportunity to share more directly in the affairs of the society in which he lives and the decisions which affect him closely. This is an absolute “must” for all industrialised societies, and the way it is dealt with will affect many aspects of our communal life.

One of our tasks will be to make economic life more democratic so that any increase in capital is shared among the wage-earners, and every man thus acquires a right to butter on his bread. The old idea of freedom of the individual, which in economic terms meant every man owning his own little shop, is now losing ground. We need a new form of individualism based on collective effort. We have to sacrifice one form of freedom to gain another, which we hope will be greater.

As I said, Denmark is wholehearted in its intention to co-operate within EEC. But that does not mean that we shall cut down our active participation in other organisations for international co-operation of which we are members.

The Council of Europe has justified its existence from the very beginning, not least as a meeting place for the members of parliament of the European democracies. It has thus been possible for the ideas of the different national parliaments to influence each other and for both national legislation and a common attitude to international co-operation in the different countries to be based on mutual inspiration. The Council of Europe has been an extremely useful catalyst. It has had a very positive influence on opinion in Western European countries in favour of international co-operation. Among other things, it has been a hot-house in which the European idea could take root and grow.

It will be very important for international cooperation that the Council of Europe continue to carry out these tasks. When my predecessor, Mr Jens Otto Krag, visited the Council of Europe in 1966, his speech was mainly devoted to methods of ending the division of Europe into two separate markets. Today, that subject no longer figures on the agenda in the form it then took. We still regret the fact that it was not possible entirely to end this division, which is why we have had to take a longer and more difficult route. Hence the Danish Government regrets that only three countries have joined the enlarged European Community. Naturally, we have to respect the reasons why each country took the attitude it did, but, to be frank, we would have been doubly happy about joining EEC if Norway too had said “Yes” in its referendum in September 1972.

Denmark’s membership of the Community does not mean that my country takes no further interest in the member countries of the Council of Europe which are not Members of EEC. We believe that the Council of Europe will continue to have an important part to play, mainly as a means of contact at different levels. After the enlargement of the Community from six to nine Members, the importance of meetings between members of parliament of the seventeen countries, far from decreasing, will continue to grow.

The Council of Europe machinery must be properly geared to deal with its function as a mediator. Its internal structure and organisation must develop in parallel with the general development of society and adapt itself to changed tasks, to those fresh tasks that the development of Europe demands. We must avoid overlapping between European organisations, and ensure that their work is complementary and serves our common aim, which is more effective cooperation in Europe.

The Council of Europe has made an extremely valuable contribution in many technical fields. I would mention especially human rights and the consequent determination to make democracy the basis of every action. The work done in the cultural, educational and legal fields is also very important. Here, the Council of Europe has acquired data and experience which will enable it to continue promoting valuable co-operation between the countries of the West.

May I end my speech with a word of advice, which is at the same time an invitation to the Council and to its Assembly. Now that the Community has been enlarged, I believe the Council of Europe could contribute better to European co-operation by developing its own activities and at the same time adapting them to those of the Community.

We in Denmark say that all roads lead to Rome, and I think that is a saying common to the whole of Europe. Different roads also lead to increased co-operation between the peoples of Europe. There has been difficulty upon difficulty: differences about ends and means, wars, and economic crises. Today, we find ourselves in a position where co-operation can develop enormously. That development must not be stifled by bureaucracy, narrow-mindedness, or failure to adapt to the requirements and concepts of a new age. That is where the Council of Europe still has an important contribution to make.


THE PRESIDENT (translation)

Mr Prime Minister, you have yourself witnessed the approval and thanks of the Assembly.

Mr Jørgensen has agreed to answer questions put by members of the Assembly. I call Mr Radinger for the first question.

Mr RADINGER (Austria)

The European Community is often criticised for having a narrow economic approach. Now that Denmark, a country with a relatively advanced social structure, is a Member of the Community, how do you view the development of social policy in EEC? What does your government expect of the programme for action in the social field to be drawn up following the Paris Summit Conference?

Mr Jørgensen, Prime Minister of Denmark (translation)

As already stated in my introduction, I consider it a most happy development that the nine Heads of Government were able to agree in Paris, in October, that economic expansion cannot be an aim in itself. In the open society which we all want, the improvement in the quality of life referred to in the communiqué can only come about through co-operation. Without such coordination, including the social field, we shall be faced with the phenomenon known as “social dumping”, which will lead the countries trying to maintain a high social standard either to isolate themselves from countries with a lower standard or to see their own standard threatened. As seen in the perspective of the Community, this must be the main objective of the social policy. It follows that social policy in this sense is a much wider concept than social policy in the national sense. Yet social policy in the Community sense is in fact but one side of the Community’s overall efforts towards fulfilment of its aims. And to this end the maintaining of stable employment through the development of economic and monetary co-operation is the necessary basis. I would say that I should welcome a European welfare State as a final objective.

Mr BLUMENFELD (Federal Republic of Germany) (translation)

Mr President, first I should like to thank Mr Jørgensen for his encouraging remarks on the Council of Europe’s future prospects and activities, a question that has been causing us considerable concern and which we were debating only the other day.

I have two questions to put to the Prime Minister. The reasons he gave for Denmark’s joining the Common Market were largely economic ones, but what I should like to know is whether the Danish Government still favours the French Government’s suggestion for a political secretariat in Paris, whereas the other Members of the enlarged Community would prefer to see such a secretariat set up alongside the other Community institutions, that is to say, in Brussels. Here is my question therefore: Is the Danish Government still of the opinion that this secretariat should have its headquarters in Paris and if so, what are its reasons?

My second question relates to the conference which is expected to take place in Helsinki in the second half of this year. What part does the Prime Minister think the Council of Europe and possibly also the Consultative Assembly might play in connection with that conference, and does he think there are any concrete proposals that it could put forward? In his speech he alluded to one or two of the special features that distinguish the Council. Could he tell us what he expects to come out of the Helsinki Conference?

Mr Jørgensen, Prime Minister of Denmark (translation)

Mr Blumenfeld asked about the economic reasons behind Denmark’s decision. I can say that Denmark considered in the first place that it was decidedly in the economic interest of the Danish population and of the Danish society to join the European Community. The area to which we internationally belong, our traditional links and loyalties as well as our economic relations, all this told us that joining EEC was natural. We think that when joining any system of economic co-operation, a number of problems of a mixed economic and political nature will also arise. On the other hand, we are not in favour of a too far-reaching co-operation in the field of foreign policy. We nevertheless accept the fact, which also found expression at the Summit Conference in Paris, that more frequent consultations and exchanges of views, including foreign policy, should take place among the Foreign Ministers of the nine countries. The precise question put to me was in fact whether Denmark would support the setting-up of a secretariat and where such a secretariat should be located. In Denmark we take a very pragmatic view of this question. It would be useful to have such a secretariat and it should be placed in the functionally most appropriate place. My own view is that Brussels would appear to be the most natural place. As far as Denmark is concerned, though, the condition must quite clearly be that this political cooperation takes place outside the institutions and decision-making procedures provided under the Rome Treaty. We do not think that time is ripe for tackling the question of political co-operation in a different and far-reaching way.

As for the second question, it is too early to say anything concrete on what the results of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe can be expected to yield. We naturally hope that the present preparatory talks in Helsinki will pave the way so that such a conference may lead to increased security and cooperation between Eastern Europe and Western Europe. We also attach great importance to a larger exchange of information and of ideas and to greater mobility of persons. These, therefore, are aspects of the question which have to be taken into consideration if we are to obtain the necessary détente. As I have said, it is not possible to say today what part this conference will play. Nor is it possible to say what part the Council of Europe may play with regard to giving effect to its possible results.

As a general remark, I might say that Denmark wishes to the largest possible extent to make use of existing international organisations for co-operation rather than setting up new mechanisms. This is where the Council of Europe might come into the picture.

Sir John RODGERS (United Kingdom)

May I ask the Prime Minister whether he could say how Denmark views the future development of Nordic co-operation now that she is a Member of the enlarged Community? It is held, I believe, that Danish membership of the Community is quite reconcilable with Nordic co-operation, but is there not a possibility that the development by the Community of an economic and monetary union by 1980 may make it increasingly difficult to reconcile these two aims?

Mr Jørgensen, Prime Minister of Denmark (translation)

Denmark views its relation to the northern countries and its membership of the European Communities as parallel developments, parallel efforts rather than as divergent developments. The problems which will face the Nordic countries in the future are also those which call for a solution within the Community. They are the problems of a modern industrial society. It would be most regrettable if the development of society within the Community were to take a diametrically opposed direction to that of the Nordic non-member countries of the Community. We view it as an important and in no way insoluble task to contribute to avoiding any such thing happening. We believe that, by and large, the objective is the same in Nordic co-operation as in the cooperation which is now taking place within the European Community. There are, therefore, two sides to this question, on which it should be possible to co-ordinate our efforts. Admittedly, problems may arise, but we are confident that we shall be able to tackle them because, in the last resort, developments are parallel and the objective is the same.

Mrs HERKLOTZ (Federal Republic of Germany) (translation)

There is one question I should like to put to Mr Jorgensen as the Prime Minister of what is largely an agricultural country. Is Denmark willing and prepared to accept the rules of the Community’s agricultural policy as they stand at present and, if so, will this confront her with any special problems? Is his government intending to propose any modifications to those rules and, if so, what are they? The Prime Minister will easily understand the interest with which we shall await his reply to this question.

Mr Jørgensen, Prime Minister of Denmark (translation)

Denmark joined the Community against a very specific background. Among other things what appealed to Denmark – which apart from being an industrial country also has an important agricultural production – were the common arrangements provided for agriculture. We shall work in favour of a development leading to an improvement of these agricultural arrangements – making them more efficient and giving them a better administrative form. In our view it is an advantage for Danish agriculture to be in the Community and we do not, therefore, foresee major problems for our agriculture in the foreseeable future. Hence, our general conclusion is that it is to the advantage of Danish agriculture to be in the Community. We believe that we shall be in a position to influence future arrangements within the Common Market so that, as opposed to our being outside, we shall now have a possibility to participate in the shaping of coming developments.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

I am extremely grateful to you, Mr Prime Minister, both for your kindness in agreeing to address the Assembly and for the readiness with which you have replied to the questions put to you by our various colleagues. Thank you also for your presence during part of our debates, which I regard as yet another proof of the interest taken in the Council's activities by yourself and by your country.

Moreover, you have today inaugurated a new procedure, one which our Standing Committee adopted a month ago. I refer to the additional time allowed for debate after the Assembly has had the honour of being addressed by a Minister. Your speech today has proved conclusively that the true value and content of a speech are by no means in direct proportion to its length. In thanking you for that as well, let me add that the Assembly will certainly know how to make good use of the ideas, suggestions and proposals to which your highly informative speech has drawn attention. Thank you.