January 1973: a Divided Britain Joins Europe

Paris, Dec 24 (AFP/APP): On January 1, 1973 Britain joined the European Economic Community in festive spirits following a decade of tough negotiations, though public opinion on membership was mixed.

For around 10 days, as part of a “Fanfare for Europe” gala, 300 sports and cultural events were held nationwide showcasing the EEC countries. Membership had increased from six to nine, with Denmark and Ireland also joining alongside Britain. The Conservative government’s europhile prime minister Edward Heath described Britain’s entry to the bloc as “very moving”.

Football players from the three new states played against a team of players from the six other countries. Italy loaned a Michaelangelo for an exhibition, the Netherlands provided a Rembrandt. Only the Louvre spoilt the fun by refusing to let the “Mona Lisa” leave Paris.

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