Economic Disintegration in Europe

Courtesy Reuters

THE European Economic Community, or E.E.C., has been in operation since the first of this year. Products from France, Germany, Italy and the Benelux countries are now circulating among these nations with greater freedom than ever before. Within a few years' time these products will be in a position to compete freely with local goods in all six home markets. No one whose heart is set on economic expansion can have anything but praise for the creators and architects of this undertaking; we are used to hearing grand words nowadays, but the E.E.C. is in truth a major enterprise.

Nor is the goal of the E.E.C. confined to the creation of a common market among the Six, or to the alignment of their tariffs. From the start, the Six governments have looked beyond the "great European market" to the harmonization of economic legislation and agricultural policy--to the creation, in other words, of a broad economic zone in tune with the modern age and one which could contribute toward the prosperity of Europe and of the world. This is all to the good of Europe and its partners and friends everywhere.

It is not at all surprising that both the prospect and the operation of such a grand scheme have resulted in a number of acute difficulties. These have been sharpest in regard to the so-called Eleven, the countries that have enjoyed, with the Six, the advantages of common membership in the O.E.E.C. but now find themselves for all practical purposes excluded from what is in fact a preferential customs union. In discussion of this situation, it is generally the opposition of the United Kingdom that is stressed. But Britain can actually meet the Six on equal terms: only 14 percent of its total exports go to the Common Market countries and, after all, it has world-wide interests. The other ten O.E.E.C. countries have, however, been the traditional suppliers and above

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