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Cover Origins and Evolution of the European Union

6. Charles de Gaulle’s Uncertain Idea of Europe  

Jeffrey Vanke

This chapter examines how policy towards the European Economic Community (EEC) fitted in with French leader Charles de Gaulle's broader European and international objectives and how the international constraints on his certain vision of France gave rise to his evolving, uncertain idea of Europe. Having denounced the Treaty of Rome before coming to power in 1958, de Gaulle ensured the EEC's survival by undertaking financial reforms in France and warding off Britain's effort to negotiate a wider free trade area. He linked these initiatives to implementation of the common agricultural policy (CAP). The chapter also considers de Gaulle's proposal for an independent and intergovernmental European Union and his role in the so-called Empty Chair Crisis of 1965–6. Finally, it discusses the impact of de Gaulle on the course of European integration.