Courtesy Reuters


The Paris summit of the heads of the nine member-governments of the European Communities last October presented another in a long series of theatrical non-events that have come to characterize international politics in Western Europe. To be sure, the final declaration of the meetings paid lip-service to a list of central problems that now confront the EC group: the need to coördinate economic and monetary policies and to establish communal regional, social, energy, environmental and industrial policies; and finally the desirability of creating institutional structures for the development of common policies toward the outside world. But the vague final reference to the transformation of the current institutions into a "European union" by the end of this decade was an attempt to camouflage continued political divisions among the nine and the paralysis of each of their governments.

It is ironic that not since World War II have the European governments had as many occasions to assert a single voice over their own destinies as during the past two or three years. Yet, wherever one looks for a response to the challenges before them, one finds passive acquiescence to the status quo, the submission of potentially significant foreign policy decisions to domestic pressures, or, worst of all, nostalgic efforts to patch up the outmoded system of the 1950s and 1960s. Instead of trying to create an autonomous political force, the governments of the Old Continent continue to avoid assuming those political responsibilities that ought to accompany their increasing economic capacities.

The temptations for innovative European actions ought to induce new plans to revitalize the European movement-or objective conditions might by now have led to a resurgence of some of the ideals articulated so forcefully by de Gaulle not even a decade ago. However contradictory these tendencies were then, they were signs of vigor and growing self-assurance. Now instead of vitality in foreign policy, one finds stagnation; instead of assertiveness, restraint; instead of a growing extroversion, an increased introversion.

The monetary field provides

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