Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Donald McConville
McCONVILLE: Certainly in agriculture they were one of the countries that were the most difficult to deal with. On the other hand, there were other areas where they were closer to us than some of the others in the Community, like copyright, along with the British, but the French felt fairly strongly about the importance of international intellectual property protection. Again, it's like most, and especially true of the French, that they defend their national interests, and there are some things in which they saw their interests being closely allied with us and others not, and they could be very difficult to deal with on those things in which they saw their interest diverging from ours. It would depend upon the issue. They weren't that much more difficult to work with, or within the Community and so forth. The Community itself is difficult to deal with. I don't know at that time whether it was 12 or 15; I lose count at how many members they have at this point. They wanted to be treated in some way as a collective entity, but on others they want to be viewed as 15 separate nations. In fact, the European Commission negotiates for them. Yet, all of the individual nations would have people attending the negotiations sort of on the periphery. They would not always be permitted in the negotiation itself, but they would be there in town and were being consulted with, and in Geneva they were very much a part of the scene. For the European Commission to strike any kind of a deal they could get all of their parties to acquiesce to was always a very, very difficult thing to do. And, of course, they tended to try to use this in their negotiating strategy as well, always pleading that they needed to get your position but they couldn't quite give you theirs yet. It was difficult always to negotiate with the European Commission.
Q: Did we use the “Gee, it's a great idea, but Congress will never buy it.”