2.11 Pierre Du Bois, Le Libre-échange en Europe de 1945 à 1960, in Olivier Jacot-Guillarmod (ed.) L’avenir du libre-échange en Europe : vers un Espace économique européen? Zürich / Bern, 1990, p. 3 – 15
[free trade in Europe from 1945 to 1960]
The text at hand was published in a volume prepared and published in 1990 during the negotiations for a European Economic Area (EEA) which took place from 1989 to 1992. The volume was intended to discuss the prospects of free trade in Europe and in EU-Swiss relations.
Du Bois was a professor of history at the Geneva Graduate Institute from 1992 to 2007 following a career in journalism and teaching history in secondary schools and lecturing history at the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School in Lausanne. He took a particular interest in European affairs and widely contributed to the debate on Swiss-EU relations at the time.
The text discusses the failed project of the International Trade Organization, which was subsequently replaced by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. It discusses the different stages of Swiss-EU relations since World War II. It recalls the competing effort to establish a large European Free Trade Zone within the Organisation of European Economic Development, later the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), prior to the establishment of the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1957. It describes the founding of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) conceived as an alternate model based upon free trade rather than a customs union and supranational administration. Switzerland, next to the United Kingdom, played an important role in this process. The chapter discusses subsequent and failed efforts at approximation of Switzerland to the EU and the run-up to the 1972 Free Trade Agreements of EFTA countries with the EU entered into upon the accession of the U.K., Ireland and Denmark to the EEC and leaving EFTA. While most of the EFTA countries joined the EEA Agreement and eventually the EU in 1995 (Austria, Finland and Sweden) Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein stayed in the EEA, Switzerland continued to base her relation to the EU on the 1972 Free Trade Agreement which the text by Du Bois describes. The year 1972 marks a decisive moment of Swiss-EU relations. It provides the foundation for relations based upon bilateral agreements instead of full integration or association.