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Eirini Karamouzi, Greece, the EEC and the Cold War, 1974–1979: The Second Enlargement. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 2014. Pp. xi + 258. Cloth £60/$90.

Given the current controversy over Greece’s relationship to the European Union, a book examining the deliberations, negotiations, and issues involved in Greece’s accession to the then-European Economic Community (EEC) could not be timelier. For its detailed historical analysis, as well as the fascinating insights that it offers about Greece’s longer-term place in the EU, Eirini Karamouzi’s new book is very welcome indeed.

Based primarily on recently opened official archives, Karamouzi’s study is the first comprehensive history focusing on the internal deliberations within the EEC and on the negotiations between the Nine (the EEC member states at the time) and Greece. Karamouzi concentrates specifically on the years between the restoration of Greek democracy and the reactivation of relations between Greece and the EEC in 1974 and the signing of the accession treaty in Athens in 1979.

The book begins with an analysis of the push for EEC membership by Constantine Karamanlis. Having become prime minister again on the collapse of the military dictatorship in July 1974, Karamanlis made membership in the EEC a primary goal. With anti-Americanism in Greece running extremely high (given perceptions of US complicity in the dictatorship and anger over US foreign policy towards the Turkish invasion of Cyprus) and with the newly restored democracy still fragile, Karamanlis saw Greece’s entry into the EEC as a critically important element in stabilizing a pro-Western orientation in Greece and, most significantly, in cementing the new regime as a consolidated European democracy. The key to EEC membership, Karamouzi argues, was “the overriding importance of the democratisation factor in Karamanlis’ quest for Europe” (15). As if to illustrate the linkage between the new democracy and EEC membership, Karamanlis lodged Greece’s application with the Community the very day after the newly ratified constitution came into force in June 1975.

Having analyzed Karamanlis’ strategy and motivations for EEC membership, Karamouzi then turns to a detailed discussion of the Greek application for membership and the deliberations and negotiations that eventually produced a successful agreement. Here, she highlights the initial Greek disappointment that its 1961 Association Agreement with the EEC—and its 1974 reactivation following the suspension of relations during the junta years—would not lead directly and rapidly to full membership. In fact, the initial reaction of the nine member states—and especially of the European Commission, the EEC’s executive body—was decidedly cool, welcoming only “the desire of Greece” to join (40). The Nine favored Greek membership in principle, but given the world economic crisis of the time, the weakness of the Greek economy, and the perceived institutional stagnation of the Community, the dominant view was that Greek membership would have to wait.

This attitude would come to change, however. As Karamouzi describes it, Karamanlis went on a successful public relations campaign to argue that Europe had a primary responsibility, over and above any technical issues or disagreements, to support the fledgling Greek democracy as a matter of principle. This argument, Karamouzi demonstrates, dovetailed perfectly with a movement already underway within the EEC to redefine its own purpose—away from the immediate postwar focus on peace and [End Page 187] mutual security to that of a mature, outward-looking institution promoting freedom, democracy, and human rights. Given the EEC’s emerging self-identity as a community of states committed to democratic principles, Karamanlis’ rhetoric on the need to promote democracy in Greece “made it difficult for any member state to incur the odium of asking for a delay or rebuffing the application despite the evident awareness of the problems involved” (50). “[I]n an atmosphere where opposition to Greek accession was construed as a negation of the country’s democratic ideals” (60), the Nine endorsed Greece’s application to join in February 1976, with negotiations beginning in July.

Karamouzi then analyzes in rich detail the internal discussions within the EEC over the details of Greek accession, as well as the negotiations between Greece and the Community. The underlying picture that emerges is one in which the difficulties of the negotiations themselves were consistently overshadowed by the larger political imperative to ensure a successful conclusion and rapid Greek accession. She details numerous potential stumbling blocks, among them, French concern over the impact of Greek accession on its agricultural sector, the Greek team’s initial reluctance or inability to provide technical data of the kind required by the Community, British concern over Turkish fears (as it was overtaken by Greek progress towards membership), and—always present—a general concern not to make special concessions to Greece that could then constrain the Community in the Spanish and Portuguese accession negotiations that were shortly to come. In the end, however, the support of Germany, France, and EU Commission President Roy Jenkins were key to overcoming these difficulties, as Karamouzi describes in detail. At a Ministerial Meeting in December 1978, Greece and the Nine agreed to the terms of entry, with the Treaty of Accession being signed in Athens in May 1979.

The details of these intense and difficult negotiations will be of great interest to scholars both of Greece’s entry into the EEC and of the internal workings of the Community’s institutions at a time when they were in the midst of significant transition. However, as mentioned above, it also suggests threads of continuity with EU policy today—aspects that echo the current debates regarding Greece’s place in the contemporary EU.

Chief among these threads is the inescapable significance of political and normative imperatives—particularly the idea of Greece as a unique case, given its central position in the development of democracy and European civilization more generally. Karamouzi’s analysis is especially important in outlining how the EEC’s emerging identity as an institution committed to human rights and the unity of the European democracies was harnessed by Karamanlis and the Greek side to make the case that Greece’s accession was a moral and historical imperative. In the negotiations over accession, this self-perception led to the downplaying of other priorities. When the accession was framed as a question of Greece’s inclusion in the European family—and of support for its reemerging democracy—policy differences over wine, peaches, and tomatoes, for instance, seemed decidedly negotiable. In this way, very real differences over more technical details were ultimately not permitted to impede on what had become an overarching political commitment to Greek membership in the EEC. The resonance with today’s rhetoric of Greece’s indelible centrality in the European family of nations—despite contemporary economic problems—is unmistakable. This continuity in the ideational construction of Greece’s exceptional place in Europe—and [End Page 188] the EU, in particular—is one that Karamouzi’s study raises and which invites further study.

In short, as the first published analysis utilizing the full range of archival materials from this period, this book is likely to set the standard for future studies of Greece’s early relations with the EU. While the reader is occasionally left wanting more details (for example, more statistical data on the actual impact of Greek accession on the agricultural and industrial sectors of the Nine would have been welcome), Karamouzi’s meticulous and exhaustive use of relevant archival documents is truly a major step forward in studies of this period—one that presaged so much for the later development of contemporary Greek society, politics, and economy.

Jonathan Swarts
Purdue University North Central
Jonathan Swarts

Jonathan Swarts is Associate Professor of Political Science at Purdue University North Central. His research interests include Western European politics, comparative political economy, public opinion, and US foreign policy. He is the author of Constructing Neoliberalism: Economic Transformation in Anglo-American Democracies (University of Toronto Press, 2013).