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Sometimes Speaking with a Single Voice

The European Community as an International Actor, 1969–1979

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Lorenzo Ferrari

In the late 1960s, the European Community was a loose association of countries focusing on economic matters. By the late 1970s, it had become a real international actor: member states had started to coordinate their foreign policies, the EC had joined the United Nations and the G7, and it had established direct relations with almost all of the world’s countries. What happened in those years?
This book provides the first comprehensive historical account of the early phase of the EC member states’ cooperation in international affairs. Community activities, the European Political Cooperation and the European Council are all considered, relying on a wide range of archival sources. Why did the EC member states decide to cooperate in international affairs? How did they do it, and in which domains? What idea of Europe as an actor on the global stage did they put forward?
As the author shows, the EC stressed its own profile as a «force for good» in international affairs – especially with regard to development cooperation, the reform of the international system, and human rights promotion. In the early phase of the EC’s international activity one can find the origins of many traits – and flaws – of the EU’s foreign policy nowadays.
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Chapter 3: Trying to Speak with a Single Voice, 1974-79

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← 92 | 93 →CHAPTER 3

Trying to Speak with a Single Voice, 1974-79

While in the first half of the 1970s the EC’s international activity was characterized by controversial debates about its own fundamental traits, the second half of the decade saw a gradual refining of those traits, and most of all an implementation of the EC’s activity: it was in this period that the EC countries started to regularly express common views and positions on a great deal of international issues. In this chapter I analyze the main developments that occurred from 1974 onwards, focusing firstly on the entry of the EC into new relationships and arenas where it could deploy its international activity: namely, the strengthening of its direct relations with many foreign countries – including the establishment of relations with China –, the admission of the EC to the UN General Assembly and to other UN bodies, and later on the invitation for the EC to join the newly created G7 summits.

Secondly, I look at the main instruments and means used by the EC to “speak with a single voice” on the global stage. Beside the common external policies of the Community, the EC counted especially on the release of common statements on a very large range of international issues; the declarations were sometimes followed by the performance of common diplomatic démarches at foreign governments. Moreover, the EPC devoted many efforts to the increase of the member states’ voting cohesion at the...

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