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By Victoria. Curzon Price

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Finally, France resisted the British attempt to restrict the free trade area scheme to industrial goods alone. In short, "the leadership of Europe was again fought over on the improbable battlefield of technical trade problems". 4 Notwithstanding the consistently negative attitude of France, the wider free trade area scheme commanded considerable support, not only within the nascent EEC, where the dangers of dividing the continent were perceived by some, but also, and principally, in those European countries which had decided that they did not wish to join the EEe.

Disequilibria in a country's overall payments and receipts are problems which extend beyond the regional context and involve all trading countries. There is therefore more of a case to be made for the global coordination of economic policies in an interdependent world than for economic coordination on a regional scale. Within a very large regional community, like the EEC, which may account for a large portion of its members' external payments, the coordination of economic policies becomes more useful, since it affects an important part (but not the whole) of a country's external transactions.

In more abstract academic terms, the EFTA experience offers interesting pointers on the vexed question of the "slippery slope". It will be recalled that the Monnet school of European integration believed that functional cooperation would lead, inevitably, to political integration, a thesis which is no longer accorded much credit since governments have shown themselves willing and able to climb nimbly back on to the straight path of national sovereignty whenever they wished to do so. All the same, EFTA experience shows that even the loosest form of economic integration engenders a slippery slope of its own, in the sense that cooperation on an ever-widening number of issues is necessary to keep a free trade area operational.

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