The thousands of books and articles on President Charles de Gaulle's policy toward European integration all accord primary explanatory importance to his distinctive geopolitical ideology. These analyses place secondary significance, if any at all, on commercial considerations. This two-part article seeks to revise that historiographical consensus by examining the four major decisions toward European integration taken by France during de Gaulle's presidency: to remain in the Common Market and promote the Common Agricultural Policy, to propose the Fouchet Plan in the early 1960s, to veto British accession to the European Economic Community, and to provoke the “empty chair” crisis in 1965–1966. The first two decisions are discussed here, and the other two are covered in Part 2. For each case, the overwhelming bulk of the evidence confirms that the interests pursued by de Gaulle were more commercial than geopolitical.

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