Jens Otto


Prime Minister of Denmark

Speech made to the Assembly

Tuesday, 27 September 1966

Mr President, it is a great honour for me to address the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe today.

Ever since it was established, the Council of Europe has been a forum for great debates on the future organisation of our Continent and its proper place in the world. These debates have attracted attention also outside Europe. They play an important role for the gradual development and strengthening of the solidarity of the European peoples. In many ways, the Council of Europe has become the guardian of the idea of European unity.

There is a tide in the affairs of men, as President Kennedy said, quoting Shakespeare, and there have, of course, been ups and downs also in the life of the Council of Europe. The organisation was inspired, at the outset, by high hopes of greater unity in a short span of years. But it is one of the great merits of the Council of Europe that it has been adaptable and has gradually succeeded in developing a realistic approach to European problems without losing sight of the final purpose.

In this connection I should like to pay tribute to the Programme of Work for Intergovernmental Activities which the Committee of Ministers adopted on 2nd May 1966, and which we in Denmark have followed with great interest.

To unite Europe is the great task of our generation. Modern economic and technological progress will, by itself, transform Europe into a continent where the individual person cannot merely be a citizen of one nation-State. He must, whether he likes it or not, also look upon himself as a member of a wider European community, but he can do so conscious of the fact that he is living under the European Convention on Human Rights, which the Council of Europe as the way-paving organisation in this field has carried through.

It is essential that we should keep the ultimate goals in view, realising, at the same time, that there is no given and conclusive answer to the question of the form in which European cooperation should be implemented.

We aim at a co-operating Europe based on a free exchange of goods, growing production and trade and free mobility of people and capital. We believe that progress in that direction will, by itself, lead to the creation of appropriate institutions.

Europe is in a process on its way towards closer co-operation – and maybe on its way towards a European Union.

The ultimate organisational form cannot be determined in advance. But the end of our idea of Europe is to create the best possible conditions for the survival and further development of our common democratic ways of life in peace and liberty. We strive for a democratic Europe with a high standard of living, with far greater social justice, and with a culture and a science that may still be a model to the rest of the world.

Only a co-operating Europe can enable the European countries to maintain the place of our old Continent in the world – not in opposition to the United States but in co-operation with our American friends. A Europe which is not in cooperation with the USA is unthinkable. It is also a situation we would never like to see. To talk about a Europe to the Urals is not realistic – but there is a good deal of sense in talking about a co-operating Europe in good relations with the USA and with the Soviet Union as well.

It is no wonder that the unification of Europe should give rise to great problems. What we have set out to do is to reconcile great old civilisations with basic dissimilarities in habits and ways of thinking and with major conflicts of interests. We are all aware that the spectrum of Europe, from the North Cape to Sicily, is rich in variations and that cultural streams have moved in many different directions in the course of history. The peoples of Europe also have inherent traditions for national rivalry. They have taken turns at ruling one another and at looking upon other European peoples as aliens. It takes time to change the ideas of peoples – to advance one step further and accept one another as equal partners.

Under the present economic and technical conditions, no single European country – not even those Powers which used to be called the Great Powers of Western Europe – can maintain a truly independent status as a world Power.

The idea of European unity is gaining ground among the peoples of Europe. After the Second World War, there has been a slow but unmistakable tendency for the peoples of Europe to appreciate and to accept the need for unification of Europe. Some further maturing is still needed, but the process is in the making.

I should like to make a few observations about the relations with Eastern Europe. These countries belong to the European family of nations. We are all aware of the problems which have caused the division between Eastern and Western Europe. But I welcome the positive attitude which the Council of Europe has taken to the question of extending our relations with the countries of Eastern Europe. On the part of the individual Eastern countries we can also register, with satisfaction, a growing interest in developing their contacts with Western Europe. We should always be prepared to take every realistic opportunity to build up mutual understanding with the Eastern countries. That will lead to gradual improvements in East/West relations and pave the way for negotiations between the two big groupings. This may also improve the possibilities of finding a solution to the German problem.

A co-operating Europe is also a precondition for the ability of our old continent to contribute towards the solution of the problems facing the developing countries, thereby helping to solve the problem which, in the long view, is the greatest of all international problems, namely the gap between rich and poor countries.

Where, then, does European co-operation stand today? It was successful for many years. Great results were achieved in European co-operation, especially during the lifetime of OEEC. But there is no denying that it has stagnated since 1963. Time and again, European Governments have been disappointed in hopes for fresh results because nationalism is still a potent force. The division of Western Europe into two market groupings, EFTA and EEC, is giving rise to increasingly acute problems, and no solution seems to be in sight. Many initiatives have been attempted to take the European situation out of the deadlock in which it has found itself after the breakdown of the Brussels negotiations in January 1963. These attempts have failed so far. But I do not think that this should deter us from new initiatives. It was the resolve to persevere in new initiatives that led to the results we have achieved in the past, and experience shows that the greatest evil is stagnation. However great the difficulties may seem to be, things should not be left at a standstill.

To my country it is vital that this deadlock in European co-operation should be brought to an end – the sooner the better. Throughout the post-war period, it has been a major aim of Denmark’s foreign policy to contribute in every effort to create a co-operating Western Europe.

There is an intensive debate in Denmark about the question how we can help to get European co-operation on the move again. In that respect, the Nordic countries might, perhaps, be able to play a part.

We have noted with satisfaction that the Six have overcome their internal difficulties. We regard this as a precondition for further progress, but against this background we cannot help feeling concerned because there have been no indications of any new developments.

The division of Europe into two different market groupings is creating growing difficulties for the smaller European countries. Denmark is in a particularly precarious position. If the split persists Europe will find herself in an extremely dangerous situation. The problems can only become more difficult.

This is leading to a growing impatience: we cannot wait for ever.

It is only natural, therefore, that we follow developments in our neighbour countries in Scandinavia with keen attention.

I do not think that an isolated Danish entry in the Common Market would solve Denmark’s problems. Nor would it be desirable from an overall European point of view. But we must keep our minds open to any opportunity that could lead to a solution to Europe’s market problems. We intend, in a near future, to discuss our views with Sweden during the visit by the Swedish Prime Minister to Denmark at the beginning of October. I think that the matter should be taken up among all the Nordic countries at the coming Session of the Nordic Council next February.

A Nordic initiative – if it should prove possible – may have an importance of its own, also as an appeal to the United Kingdom and France to re-establish the contacts that were broken off in January 1963, and to resume the negotiations in which among others Denmark took part simultaneously. This is the key to Europe’s future.



Thank you, Mr Prime Minister.

I shall now ask a member of our Bureau to express the appreciation of the Assembly and to continue the debate. I call Mr Petersen.

Mr PETERSEN (Norway)

It is a very pleasant duty for me, on behalf of the Bureau, most heartily to thank Prime Minister Krag for coming to Strasbourg and addressing the Assembly. As I said yesterday in presenting the progress report, it is of the greatest value to the Assembly, and it increases the importance of this Assembly that leading statesmen take part in our work. Prime Minister Krag is a very welcome guest in this Assembly. We all know him as a good European. It is therefore not surprising that the representatives of the Assembly have listened to the Prime Minister’s exposé with the greatest interest. In a lucid way he has dealt with questions of vital interest to all of us, and his frank views will undoubtedly be a valuable contribution to our debate. I thank you very heartily, Mr Prime Minister.

In my own capacity as a Norwegian, I should like to make a few remarks on what Prime Minister Krag called a “Nordic initiative”. It seems to be an initiative in status. So far it seems to be only a Danish initiative. In October, after the Swedish Prime Minister has visited Denmark, it may be a Danish-Swedish initiative, and then, according to Prime Minister Krag, in February 1967, it may be taken up in the Nordic Council and really be a Nordic initiative – I will repeat, maybe.

As a member of the Nordic Council, I shall be prepared to discuss seriously any initiative in trying to find a solution to the European problems, and, I believe, so will all my Norwegian colleagues in the Nordic Council. All ways should be investigated to try to find a solution to the European problems. But new initiatives must not destroy the possibilities of reaching a general solution. I believe that any initiative by special groups should be handled with extreme care. I cannot quite see how Nordic initiative in the present situation will have much possibility of being a success. But by all means let us also discuss this possibility in proper ways to find out its merit, if any.

Speaking of initiatives, I think that the country that could make a contribution in that way is France. To put it quite bluntly, France is blocking the integration in Europe. If they had not been doing that up to now we probably at this time would have had an all-European Common Market. In this situation, I think it is fair to demand that the French Government should state explicitely, specifically and without ambiguity its objections to the integration. Then we could know, with all the other countries, where we stand. We would know what contributions would be demanded of us to get a solution. I think we are all willing to make contributions and concessions, but we should like to know exactly what they are to be. It seems to us that only France can tell us.

Mr BLENKINSOP (United Kingdom)

We all listened with the greatest interest to Mr Krag’s speech. I, too, welcome the elucidation he gave us of the attitude of his Government towards the question of greater integration of the West. Like Mr Petersen, some of us are anxious lest any initiative taken is done without full contact with the other EFTA Members, and I take it from what Mr Krag has said that every effort will be made to keep in the closest possible contact with other countries. Provided that that can be confirmed, we would all welcome any form of initiative which can be taken. Whether there seems much prospect of success or not should not prevent new moves being adopted. I hope that Mr Krag may find it possible to add something to what he has said on this point.

I also welcome some of his comments about East-West relations. I found them more helpful than those of my colleague, Lord Gladwyn, whose speech was to some extent rather depressing. I think that it was natural that Lord Gladwyn should wish to elucidate some points in the report, for there are, of course, some uncertainties in the terminology. But I think the anxieties he expressed about the continuing presence of America and American interest in Europe may not have been fully dispelled by Mr Federspiel’s speech, in which he made it clear that he recognises, as do the other members of the Committee, the importance of the American contribution.

I found it also depressing to hear Lord Gladwyn’s rather negative view about the opportunities which might be available for further contact between East and West. I much prefer Mr Krag’s view and that expressed in the Assembly by my colleague, Mr Patrick Gordon Walker, when he urged that we needed to make progress along the lines of strengthening our own Western position by means of co-ordination of our efforts between the two Western groupings and by simultaneously doing all we can to establish closer understandings with Eastern Europe. Surely the Council of Europe must be concerned with Europe at some stage and not only, although obviously this is very important, with Western Europe.

I do not take as pessimistic a view as does Lord Gladwyn on the prospects and possibilities of increased contacts with Eastern Europe and the value of the attempts being made at the present time. I want to stress only two issues. First, I agree with our friend Mr Czemetz, who spoke of the importance to us of the war in Vietnam. Of course, we recognise that the part we can play in Europe in this respect is very limited. But it is right that we should also recognise that this tragedy is certainly impeding major progress towards understanding towards Western and Eastern Europe, and there is one factor in particular to which we should call attention.

I have had the opportunity, as have some of my colleagues, of having discussions both in the United States and in parts of Eastern Europe. One matter needs to be clarified. I found that, in some American official quarters, anxieties were expressed lest any withdrawal that might develop by America from Vietnam be interpreted in Western Europe as a sign of American unwillingness to play their full part in support of democratic tradition. It would be right for us, or at least for as many of us as possible, to emphasize that any withdrawal by the United States in Vietnam – following, naturally, any discussions that might be initiated there – would, far from being regarded with anxiety in many parts of Western Europe, be welcomed as a means by which further progress could be made between West and East.

Of course we welcome some of the recent speeches made by Mr Goldberg of the United States at the United Nations and we still must hope that there will be a more encouraging response to this initiative from the other side. Of course we must not place the blame for the situation on one side alone and of course we must be anxious to see that Hanoi responds to some of the initiatives which have been taken. But we must still say to our American friends, and not be afraid to do so, that we feel that negotiations are of the utmost importance to us in Europe because of the influence that these negotiations must inevitably have upon the progress we make in our own continent.

The second point regarding improved East-West relations is that we should encourage in every way the work that is already being done by the Secretariat through informal contacts in some of the specialised conferences that have been taking place, and we must note in particular that, at the very successful conference on population, there were more representatives from Eastern Europe than in the past. I think that this kind of practical and technical co-operation should be given every possible encouragement. The Secretariat should be encouraged to take further initiatives along these lines.

Major changes are taking place, particularly in the economic field, in Eastern Europe – in Czechoslovakia, Romania and Poland, to name only some. We should also be interested particularly in the changes taking place in Yugoslavia. The changes in Eastern Europe are bound to affect the political as well as the economic situation. They are bringing not only flexibility into their economic pattern of working but are beginning now to introduce flexibility into their political approach as well. That is why it is so important for the Council of Europe to seize every opportunity of economic contact and to encourage those forces in Eastern Europe which I think are truly anxious to see this change of emphasis take place.

I hope that the rather depressing views of Lord Gladwyn and some other speakers in the debate will not be regarded as the views of members of the Council of Europe generally and that, while we are naturally concerned to strengthen the position of Western Europe and not to give up any of the democratic bases of our life, we are still most anxious to see our way through to that wider Europe that we are really concerned about.

Mr BOHY (Belgium) (translation)

First, I should like to follow earlier speakers, Mr President, in saying with what interest and pleasure I listened to what the Danish Prime Minister had to say just now.

But I asked for the floor to comment on Mr Federspiel’s report. And let me begin by saying how pleasantly surprised I was by the speech we had from Mr Federspiel himself yesterday.

I say pleasantly, partly because I found I could agree with nearly everything he said, but even more because it removed, I think, almost completely the unfortunate impression left on me by the contents of pages 8 to 10 of the Explanatory Memorandum, with which I am bound to say that I disagree from start to finish.

The North Atlantic Treaty was no doubt, as our Turkish colleague, Mr Erim, so admirably underlined yesterday, dictated by the urgent needs of the moment but, even so, it has always struck me as being badly balanced. I am sorry to repeat what I have already said more than once but, whenever there is an alliance between one very large Power and a number of medium or small Powers, the scales cannot help being weighted more heavily on the side of the large Power, which unavoidably and even against its own will, obeys as it were the laws of gravity. The result is that, however much it may not wish to do so, it in fact creates a kind of satellite system. The answer, however, does not seem to me to lie in abandoning, breaking up or destroying what we have built so far, but in correcting the situation by arranging that the one Great Power be counter-balanced by a second one.

This second Great Power we are now trying to create, in the shape of a united Europe sufficiently closely knit together to provide the counter-balance needed to establish what will be in a true sense an alliance – an alliance, that is to say, composed on the one side of America and, on the other, of Europe, each possessing an equal voice because, in respect of population, raw materials and industrial potential, one is the equal of the other. Once a balance has been established – by that means and by no other – there will no longer be any need for those disagreeable references in the report to the “American protection” which some people find so difficult to endure patiently.

Perhaps I find it equally difficult to endure patiently, but I can think of other ways of dealing with the situation than those that certain persons have seen fit to select.

The report speaks of the solemn renewal of something that will, by then, have been destroyed. An odd idea, surely! The usual way of improving an institution recognised as imperfect is from within – and the belief that breaking something up is a step towards consolidating it is a dangerous illusion.

Coming now to the next part of the report, which deals with East-West rapprochement, I am afraid its result may only be to postpone the achievement of something really worth while. Of course, from a sentimental point of view, I can see that there is something affecting in two countries, still belonging to two different blocs and therefore a few years ago automatically enemies, beginning to come together. Some Polish members of Parliament recently paid an official visit to Brussels, during which some of our Belgian M.P.s succeeded in establishing quite friendly relations with them as we found that there were a number of points on which we could agree. Naturally, I was not insensible to this. All the same, that is not really the right way of going about things. Indeed, I am very much afraid that some people are toying with the idea that, by encouraging these separate contacts, we may get back to the pre-war policy of separate alliances for which the men of my generation have already had to pay with two world wars.

I should infinitely prefer any rapprochement to be between the two blocs as such, even though this is bound to be a longer process and more difficult. I should like to see the desire for peace being born gradually in men’s minds; even while it is still too early perhaps to talk of confidence, I should like to see distrust becoming less violent and less radical. In a word, I prefer arranging world peace to arrangements for separate agreements. The reason why I put my faith in a rapprochement – a cautious one, obviously – between the two blocs is that, after all the anxious years they have passed through, the individual countries in those blocs feel that their membership gives them a certain degree of security and so makes talks possible.

I also have a feeling, to which I might as well admit frankly, that the current fears engendered by Chinese policy may, as an initial step, end by pushing us into a non-aggression pact covering the whole of the northern hemisphere. That is what I think may be postponed by breaking up the Atlantic Treaty. I am afraid that, if we break it up, we may be retarding a development that could, perhaps, be nearer than certain of us think.

From another point of view, too, from inside Europe, I regard the policy of breaking up NATO as a dangerous one. And that, Mr President, brings me to my last point. Ladies and Gentlemen, in 1948 I had the honour of presiding over an organisation known as the European Parliamentary Union. Some of us here today were present at its inception at Gstaad in 1947. Most of the founding Members came from countries which had been on the same side during the war, from States whose citizens had known what it was to be political prisoners and also to be members of the Resistance and we felt that at all costs peace had to be established; that, without necessarily forgetting the past, we must look towards the future and that a Europe without Germany was impossible. That body, of which I was President, was the first international body to invite a delegation from Germany at a moment when the Federal Republic did not yet exist. The German delegation, composed of representatives from the various Lander that today make up the Federal Republic, was headed by a man whom we all respect, Chancellor Adenauer.

Because I believed it to be a condition precedent of peace, I fought for German equality of rights in the new Europe. I did not fight for German military supremacy in the new Europe, nor indeed for the supremacy of any one country.

Once the Members of the Atlantic Pact, be they American or European, realise that our line of defence lies along the Elbe, they must surely realise also that the Americans have no choice but to fortify the German military positions – though I am by no means certain actually that all Germans would concur because it involves them, too, in military expenditure which they are beginning to find somewhat irksome.

All this is calculated to re-awaken anxiety in Europe and provide apparent support for the suspicions broadcast from time to time, for political motives, in the Eastern European countries, where Germany is always being accused of a renascent militarism.

Such a situation cannot help towards either peace or a détente, and that is why I listened with so much pleasure to the Rapporteur’s speech, because it contained none of the statements in his report which I have just been criticising. I hope he will not be offended by my saying this, but it is just because his speech contradicted his report that I would like to express my gratitude to him.

Mr PATIJN (Netherlands)

Mr Federspiel’s presentation, both in his report and his speech was so brilliant and gave us so much to be grateful for that it is hardly polite to focus on the one point with which one cannot wholeheartedly agree; but because of lack of time I will do just that and will follow closely what has been said by Mr Bohy, who again, has demonstrated that the countries of Benelux are not only economically very close. There was a passage in Mr Federspiel’s report which struck me at first reading as particularly important but I was disturbed when I read further. On page 9 he said:

“Indeed, there is a tendency today to put the problem inaccurately in the form of a choice between Atlantic Europe and anachronistic nationalism.”

I felt that Mr Federspiel was quite right but on the next page there was a sentence which I found a little disturbing:

“An effort should be made to eliminate from the Atlantic Alliance everything which may be regarded as American protection.”

Here is the point where I do not follow. I believe that Mr Federspiel is going here in a rather disquieting direction and that it is an illusion to think, at least for the time being, of a Europe without American protection. I do not believe it is for the Council of Europe in any form to say that the American boys have to go home; and we should in no way follow General de Gaulle in his attempts to paralyse the Atlantic Alliance in its most substantial point which is, of course, the American “présence” on the European Continent. We have every reason to need American protection here, just as we have very reason to need American participation in European affairs. We need both the protection and the participation. For that reason I greatly welcome what has been said by the Prime Minister of Denmark, that Europe without co-operation with the United States is unthinkable. I believe that that is true for all of us.

If I may underline that statement with a few brief reflections, NATO has been and still is today a clear indication, a demonstration, we might say an incarnation, of that great community of interests between our countries and the United States which has given us all peace, stability and the tremendous comeback of Europe after the all-time low of 1945. We have every reason for praying that this Atlantic Alliance will continue, and the protection with it. We need close co-operation for the future also. Why? The Soviet Union has not yet definitely made up her mind whether to continue the cold war or accept the friendship of Europe. There is still the profound distrust, the confidence in the international conception of Communism. There is still the way in which the Soviet Union keeps Germany divided. The weight of the American “présence” must remain in the scales of the European political equilibrium as long as we are uncertain of Russian intentions.

Mr Federspiel said that the philosophy of the deterrent has lost its initial force. I do not quite understand what he means by “initial”. I believe the deterrent has not lost its force for the prevention of Russian nuclear blackmail, for the possibility of Soviet intervention in Berlin and for the prevention of Soviet intervention in the affairs of Western Europe or the world as a whole. Let us not forget that the last Berlin crisis was only four years ago; that it was only four years ago – and that is not a very long time – that we had the Cuban crisis. Is this the moment to say that the nuclear force of the deterrent has lost its force and meaning. I cannot follow that. We need it as long as we in Europe are unable to balance the power of the Soviet Union; and it will take a long time to achieve that, if ever.

But also for the political future of Europe we need the help and co-operation of the United States. That does not mean we want an Atlantic Europe. I do not know quite what that means but there are a few very good reasons for continued American participation in European decision-making. Perhaps I may mention just two of them. First, we could not have won the last war without the help of the US, and we will not be able to make the final peace without the US, either. For the problem of German reunification is still there and for the final settlement of that we will need a great new Yalta on a world scale, with a large range of questions which should be settled at the same time. Why will we need that large context? Because it is not possible for the Germans themselves to offer real concessions. They have no great concessions to make and the margin for concessions for the final settlement can come only from the world alliance of NATO and especially the United States, in the settlement of world affairs in a very large context. Any European settlement of such importance will need an American signature on the dotted line, since we and the Soviets will need the American guarantee of the new Yalta.

The second reason for continuing close American participation in our affairs is, in my view, that it is difficult to believe that the Soviet Union will ever allow Germany to have a nuclear striking force. This may well, in the long run, force Great Britain and France also to do away with the idea of a nuclear national capacity. In the long run, there must be equality in every respect between Germany, France and Great Britain in nuclear affairs also; and if it is not possible for the Germans to have such a weapon, I cannot believe in the long run it will be possible to have in Europe a national striking force in Great Britain or France either.

This implies that for a final settlement of European affairs we need American nuclear protection as a permanent requirement for the peace of Europe – of course, in the form in which the European nations will have a real share in the responsibility and decision-making. But in my view it is clear that it is not in the interests of Europe, as is stated in the report, to eliminate everything which may be regarded as American protection, because that American protection and American participation is the only way in which we can really reach a settlement with the Soviets and settle our own affairs. On this point, therefore, I want to give a little warning against a certain tendency in Mr Federspiel’s Report which this Assembly should not accept without reserving its position very clearly on this one point.


In this part of the debate, one or two direct questions have been put to Mr Krag, and he has very kindly agreed to answer them. He has to leave us very soon, having another important engagement. I was intending to call on Mr Edwards to speak, but unless he has any questions to put to Mr Krag, in which case I will call on him to put them, I will call on any member of the Assembly who has direct questions to put to Mr Krag and then, after inviting Mr Krag to reply, call on Mr Edwards. Has Mr Edwards any particular questions to put to Mr Krag?

Mr EDWARDS (United Kingdom)

I intended to incorporate a number of questions in my speech. I listened with very close attention to the most interesting speech by the Prime Minister of Denmark and I am sure that we are all interested in what he calls the possibility of a Nordic initiative. This is of great interest to those of us who represent the British Parliament, and I should like to ask the Prime Minister to dwell on this initiative a little further. It would be my view that the initiatives required just now are not the kind of initiatives from a group of small though very important countries, but should come from France, stating very clearly that she will not veto the entry of Britain, and from Britain, stating that she will without any qualification sign the Treaty of Rome and have a dialogue afterwards. I should be very pleased to hear, and I am sure that I and my colleagues will listen with great interest to, Mr Krag’s reply to this point, which is of importance to us all.

Every British political party is pledged to insist on the economic interests of every EFTA nation being respected before we would agree to enter the Common Market. We would expect our good friends from the Nordic countries to have the same sentiment and principle.

Mr KERSHAW (United Kingdom)

My question is substantially the same as that of Mr Edwards; I should like to hear a little more about how the Nordic initiative will be made. Does the Prime Minister agree that it is very important that next time there should be no rebuff as in 1963? Has he any reason to suppose that President de Gaulle has changed his views? Will he be very careful, by diplomacy, to find this out before making a public approach which might be turned down and leave the situation worse than before? Does the Prime Minister agree that an initiative from the Six, if it could be engineered by ambassadors and diplomats on the quiet beforehand, would have a sort of built-in guarantee that the veto has been put away, and will he work in that direction?

Mr SILKIN (United Kingdom)

I want to ask the Prime Minister of Denmark a question which I hope will not be thought too blunt, but I think it necessary to ask it. If, as a result of whatever Nordic initiative may take place, the answer given either by the Community or by any

Member of the Community is that so far as my country, Great Britain, is concerned its balance-of-payments problems make it impossible to accept it as a Member of the Community at that stage, but that that particular problem does not apply to other countries, such as the Nordic countries, would the Prime Minister take the view that that would justify the Nordic countries in entering the Community before Great Britain?

Mr Krag, Prime Minister of Denmark

I have listened with great interest to the debate this morning, and many problems have been dealt with on which I should like very much to give my own point of view, but I had better concentrate on what has been said in connection with my own speech.

First of all, I should like to thank Mr Petersen, of Norway, for his kind words of appreciation. I thank you, Mr Petersen, very heartily. Arising from his personal remarks as a Norwegian, I have to admit that what has been called a Nordic initiative is so far a Danish one. I think that that is not the worst which could be said about it. I am very glad that you, Mr Petersen, as a member of the Nordic Council will discuss an initiative of this kind seriously if and when it comes up in the Nordic Council. You indicated that it will not be easy to find a Nordic or Scandinavian agreement on this matter, and I think that you are right; nevertheless, I think we should try to do our best. I am fully aware that there may be difficulties, but, as Lord Gladwyn said this morning, tension is not always bad. Tension may sometimes bring about a new move, and this is what Europe needs at the moment.

Some of the speakers have expressed the wish that an eventual new initiative on the European Market question should be made in close contact with other EFTA countries. Mr Blenkinsop expressed that point of view, and Mr Edwards asked a question about the same thing. I completely agree, but I want to sharpen this point of view a little. I think that no Member of EFTA should open any negotiations with other European countries or with the institutions in Brussels without close consultation and discussion with the other Members of EFTA. I think that any Member of EFTA is obliged to keep in touch with the other Members and to keep them fully informed of any move which the Member may make, of any problem that has occurred in any negotiations which it has undertaken. I think that this is very important indeed.

I was asked by one of the distinguished Representatives what I thought would be the reactions of member Governments of the Common Market to such an initiative. Well, I cannot imagine a negative attitude to an initiative of the kind that has been spoken of here today. I think that all Members of the Six would accept an initiative of this kind, and I feel quite sure that the President of France will accept it.

I was asked by Mr Edwards what I thought about the importance of the reactions of France and the United Kingdom to a so-called Nordic initiative, and may I answer by quoting myself. I should like to repeat the last few lines of my speech in which I said:

“A Nordic initiative – if it should prove possible – may have an importance of its own, also as an appeal to the United Kingdom and France to re-establish the contacts that were broken off in January 1963, and to resume the negotiations in which among others Denmark took part simultaneously. This is the key to Europe’s future.”


Prime Minister, we are most grateful to you for entering into our proceedings in such a useful way, in fact in taking part in our debate. By coming here today you not only have honoured us but have informed us. Thank you very much.