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We voted for free trade in 1975, nothing less and nothing more | the big issue

The European Economic Community referendum put paid to endless delay and red tape at European borders, but didn’t give a green light to federalism

In the 1975 European Economic Community referendum I voted yes. At the time, I was a 30-year-old director of a small manufacturing company in Daventry that desperately wanted to get involved with the European export market.

If I wanted to jump into my car and drive around Europe demonstrating my wares, I had to apply for a carnet that allowed me into European countries on a temporary basis without having to pay any import duties on the goods in my vehicle. At every customs point, I had to join a long queue to get my entry into the next country logged and my carnet endorsed. This was torment. If one succeeded in getting an order, endless documentation ensued. By the time one finally got paid, one really wondered if it had been worth the effort. But then along came the EEC. Brilliant – no more customs, a free trade zone. Exactly what we wanted – nothing more, nothing less.

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