COMMON MARKET: The Mansholt Jolt

  • Share
  • Read Later

Europeans last week were treated to the refreshing spectacle of a top Eurocrat who said precisely what he thought—in plain language. He is Sicco Leendert Mansholt, 63, a burly 6-ft. 2-in., 191-lb. Dutch farmer, socialist politician and diplomat who took over last month as the fourth president of the Common Market Commission. To begin what promises to be a lively term as "Europe's Prime Minister," he faced a press conference and, after demanding a glass of champagne, delivered himself of a few straightforward opinions.

ON GROWTH: "Gross national product in all our member states, and also in the U.S. and Japan, has been thought of as something sacred. But G.N.P. is diabolical. We must think, instead, of our people's happiness."

ON POLLUTION: "If Europe can reach production without pollution, then we must do it. If others do not choose slower expansion in order to preserve the quality of life, then there will be conflict. I don't want Europe to be protectionist, but I think Europe must protect itself—not against others but to force others to go in similar directions."

ON BRITAIN'S LABOR PARTY, which opposes entry into the EEC: "As a socialist, I am ashamed to see my [British] friends developing along these lines. Socialism is fundamentally international. I'm convinced the majority of British socialists will say in years to come, 'What damned stupid things we did in '71 and'72!'"

ON SWEDEN AND SWITZERLAND: "We are about to conclude an agreement with Sweden that ought to satisfy them economically. After some time—I give them four years—this situation [of political isolation] will no longer satisfy the Swedes. It's another matter for Switzerland, because we could never give Switzerland the financial position she enjoys at the moment. It doesn't interest me very much. They must find their own way."

ON SPAIN: "I should be happy to welcome Spain into our community once they have a responsive system. It would give them some democratic education."

ON EEC REFORM: "If a question has been well prepared, we don't need to debate it for 110 hours. That we do so on decisions taken annually shows that our community is sick. With their limited briefs, ministers must telephone their heads of government three times a night. But do they really want to be wakened to be asked about pork prices?"

  1. Previous Page
  2. 1
  3. 2