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The Heath-Pompidou Paris 20-21 May 1971 summit: Franco-British European honeymoon or marriage of convenience? An actor-centred study of the reasons for and success of the Heath-Pompidou meetings and of the impact of ‘personal diplomacy’ in the development of Franco-British and European summitry under their leadership

Robert, P. (2020) The Heath-Pompidou Paris 20-21 May 1971 summit: Franco-British European honeymoon or marriage of convenience? An actor-centred study of the reasons for and success of the Heath-Pompidou meetings and of the impact of ‘personal diplomacy’ in the development of Franco-British and European summitry under their leadership. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Abstract/Summary

When British Prime Minister Heath and French President Pompidou met in Paris on 20, 21 May 1971, in a secretly prepared and conducted tête-à-tête summit, they ended a decade of Franco-British frictions over Britain’s entry to the EEC and prepared the ground for fruitful negotiations in Brussels leading to Britain’s official membership of the European Community on 1 January 1973. The HeathPompidou encounters took place in the context of Britain’s previous European integration history marked, in the 1960s, by two French refusals of Prime Ministers Macmillan’s and Wilson’s applications, which both provided valuable information on how to change and nuance approaches to negotiations. They initiated a type of European top-level summitry in which exchange and personal chemistry seemed as important as, and indeed, acted as preconditions of tangible results. This summitry testified to a particular entente between the two men whose striking similarities in personality and in political conceptions of the European project played a determining role in establishing a temporary Franco-British European rapprochement. There were specific practical, political and personal reasons for the two leaders to decide to meet in secret and face to face. But beyond their particular historical and technical context, the May 1971 summit meetings uniquely marked the beginning of a series of similar Heath-Pompidou one-to-ones until December 1973. Based on an innovative actor-centred focus on the two leaders’ relationship, personalities and discourse, and on the examination of unexploited Franco-British sources, this study proposes an original approach to Franco-British summitry under Heath and Pompidou. This approach focuses on the concept of ‘personal diplomacy’, bringing to the fore the language and interactions of the principal actors and showing their decisive role, not only in the success of Britain’s application for entry into the EEC, but also in the establishment of a structure for political dialogue at Europe’s highest level.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Footitt, H.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Languages and Social Sciences
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > Modern Languages and European Studies > French
ID Code:96823

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