By Howard LaFranchi, writer of The Christian Science Monitor
The Christian Science Monitor
STEPS taken at the European Community summit in Dublin this week express a new level of coordinated action by European leaders.
Three of the two-day summit's principal topics - intensified economic and monetary union for the 12-nation EC, a parallel project for enhancing political integration within the Community, and Western aid to the Soviet Union - are all being pushed along by prospects for a political and economic German giant among smaller European states.
The 12 European leaders agreed on the idea of substantial economic assistance to help support the reforms being pursued by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. They asked the EC's executive arm in Brussels, the Commission, to study the needs and most effective applications for two types of aid, short-term credits and a more long-term reform-assistance package.
The position on Soviet aid is intended in part as a message to next month's G-7 summit in Houston of the West's major industrial nations, and particularly to the United States.
But the decision is also viewed by EC observers as a reflection of the European leaders' determination to keep Germany's assertive action within a European context.
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was not alone with her concern that substantial assistance now might only put off the further Soviet reforms Western leaders believe they must undertake, EC analysts say. But there is also a broad desire not to leave Germany going off in that direction on its own.
Chancellor Helmut Kohl already announced last week that the German government will guarantee $3 billion in bank loans to the Soviets. Although the European leaders did not go beyond their request for a study of Soviet needs, their discussions included references to a long-term need for more than $15 billion in economic assistance, several government spokesmen said.
The European Commission is sending a delegation, including President Jacques Delors, to the Soviet Union July 18-20. It appears likely an initial decision of EC short-term assistance will be taken in the fall. The Italian government, which assumes the European Council presidency from the Irish next month, has scheduled a summit for October 27.
"We would expect some action to be taken by winter time, which would correspond to the next crucial period of need," says a spokesman for Chancellor Kohl.
The summit's action on Soviet aid demonstrates the kind of integrated political steps the EC increasingly has been led to take since last year's events in Eastern Europe, and especially since German reunification became clear. …