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The future of Europe and the Atlantic community

Conference for United States Senators and Congressmen

30th January, 1967   

The Provost's summary issued as a press release


Over the past weekend the Ditchley Foundation has conducted at Ditchley Park a conference at which a select group of United States Senators and Congressmen met a number of British people of different parties and interests to study together the Future of Europe and the Atlantic Community.

The discussions were entirely private and confidential, and participants spoke personally and frankly and not in any representative or official capacity. No attempt was mad e to reach a consensus of opinion, let alone conclusions    The Provost of Ditchley summarised the meeting as follows.

The Conference considered first the economic and then the political and strategic aspects of these problems. On the economic side, debate inevitably focussed on the possibility of a British entry into the European Economic Community. Divergent opinions on this were evident, though it was emphasised that both the British Government and the other main parties were committed to an attempted approach to the Common Market and that American opinion generally wished well to this attempt. The American as well as the British members recognised the far­ reaching implications, both for Britain herself and for other nations, among them the developing countries of the Commonwealth. Interest both hopeful and sceptical was expressed in the project of an Atlantic free trade area.  On both sides the view was strongly expressed that whatever Britain’s course might prove to be she should not forsake her destiny as an oceanic power, with interests and responsibilities outside the continent to which she geographically belongs, though that destiny might be fulfilled as part of a European community.

In the political and strategic discussions there was no such single focus. They ranged from nuclear proliferation to peace-keeping in Asia. It was common ground that since the establishment of NATO there had been immense changes in the European and world scene which in any case would justify a thorough reappraisal of regional and global defence partnerships. While there was naturally reference to the Vietnam war, the conference was disposed rather to study the problems and options that would arise in Asia after an end of the Vietnam conflict, with emphasis on the hope of both British and American opinion that the primary defence of Asian countries would come to be successfully shouldered by those countries themselves. Though security is requisite to peaceful advance, the ultimate problems in Asia and Africa were recognised to be political and economic. As regards both Europe and the rest of the world, it was common ground that mutual understanding between Britain and America, not necessarily leading to common policies, was at all times a valuable contribution to world peace and the welfare of mankind. Both politically and economically, it was felt that European unity need not and should not prejudice Atlantic unity in the most comprehensive sense .