The previous chapter underlined the geopolitical significance of the Suez Crisis for the European powers and for the creation of the EC. Suez confirmed that France and Great Britain had been reduced to subordinate status within a bipolar world and that the United States would not necessarily support their efforts to retain their colonies or help them to exercise primacy over them after formal independence was achieved. The shock of Suez strengthened France’s determination to move forward with the EC as a countervailing power to the United States, and therefore to reach a positive agreement at the Messina IGC. Although Britain sheltered under the umbrella of the ‘special relationship’ even Harold Macmillan, who replaced the chagrined Anthony Eden as Prime Minister, would soon apply for EC membership, setting in motion a long and stormy courtship that would culminate in Britain’s entry in 1973. That the Suez Crisis also served as a catalyst for the Treaty of Rome indicates that Europe’s postcolonial condition was an important factor in European integration. Not only did the EC provide a new institutional framework through which to manage advanced capitalist social relations that, by their nature, could not be confined within nation states of the moderate European size; it also furnished a new means of collectively managing relations with the capitalist periphery of the former colonies. This chapter continues to focus on Europe’s external relations, a focus that began in the previous two chapters on enlargement and transatlantic relations.
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