WITH fewer than 1,000 days to the December 1992 date set for an
integrated market from Copenhagen to Lisbon, the European Community
is threatening to shift to at least a two-speed process for reaching
Some countries - and issues - are moving more quickly toward
integration than others.
Last week, five of the EC's 12 members signed historic accords to
lift all internal border controls by the beginning of 1992, a year
before the other members are supposed to reach the same goal.
A summit of Community leaders begins in Dublin today to discuss
stepped-up economic-policy coordination. Some European monetary
officials, including German Bundesbank President Karl Otto Pohl, are
suggesting a two-tiered monetary system that would first unite a
"core" of the EC's fittest economies.
At the same time, new steps toward Europe's internal market are
occurring every week: Recent examples involve abolition of rules
that result in tens of millions of costly and time-consuming customs
forms annually. In addition, measures taken last week should make
Europe's airlines more competitive, with the goal of broadening
choices and reducing fares.
Yet just as this market is taking shape, criticism is growing
that there is little action on the so-called "social Europe" -
legislation on Europe's workers, other "people" issues, and the
An EC with different elements moving at different speeds is to be
expected, some analysts say, especially given the economic diversity
among 12 members that range from wealthy West Germany to a much
"By any definition, the Community at the moment is proceeding at
breakneck speed," says Peter Ludlow, director of the Center for
European Policy Studies in Brussels. "But to a certain extent the
Community is going forward through experimentation by smaller
subgroups" that are the most prepared, he says.
"That has been true before, and now it seems to be popping up
Pointing to the agreement by France, Germany, Belgium, the
Netherlands, and Luxembourg to end all customs and police checks at
their common borders while enhancing law-enforcement coordination,
Mr. Ludlow notes that these countries are among the EC's original
members. "These countries have a history of this kind of
cooperation," he says.
Italy, the last of the Community's six original members, has
asked to join the "Shengen group," named after the Luxembourgeois
village where the five-nation discussions began. Yet while Spain and
Portugal have also expressed an interest, some observers believe it
will be more difficult to coax along other members, especially
Citing its campaigns against terrorism and rabies, Britain says
it will not give up border checks of non-EC residents, but that
implies continuing the checking of EC residents and vehicles as