chapter  2
Pages 43

The Nixon Administration designated 1973 the 'Year of Europe' (No. 51). But in the words of Lord Cromer, Britain's Ambassador in Washington, the year 'failed to live up to its advanced billing' (No. 432). What began as an American initiative aimed at re,defining relations between the United States and Western Europe and reasserting the values and interests they shared in common, ended in a fractious debate over the drafting of two seemingly innocuous declarations. A projected presidential visit to Europe failed to materialise, and Henry Kissinger, President Nixon's National Security Adviser, took umbrage at the less than enthusiastic reception given by the Europeans to his call for a new 'Atlantic Charter'. Meanwhile, the mixed responses of America's allies to the outbreak of war in the Middle East and divergent approaches to the ensuing energy crisis threatened the unity of NATO and exposed serious deficiencjes in the policy-making processes of the newly-enlarged European Community (EC). America's selective bilateralism on the world stage was matched by France's predictable exceptionalism in Europe. The United Kingdom, which, along with Denmark and the Republic of Ireland, became a fully-fledged member of the EC on I January 1973, found itself in the invidious position of trying to maintain its 'special' or 'natural' relationship with the United States while at the same time seeking to demonstrate to its continental neighbours its commitment to the construction of a European union from whose counsels the Americans would be excluded. This volume documents the reactions of British statesmen and diplomats to these developments, and their contribution to promoting the notion of a European identity founded on cooperation, rather than competition, with the United States. It focuses on the strains and stresses affecting inter-allied relations as a result of institutional change, overseas conflict, and economic turbulence in the period between the Paris summit of EC Heads of State and Government of 19-20 October 1972 and the Washington Energy Conference of 11-12 February 1974.