Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

THE WORLD FROM.Brussels after the European Community's Uncertain Response to the Gulf War, Officials Fear Return to Bilateralism

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

THE WORLD FROM.Brussels after the European Community's Uncertain Response to the Gulf War, Officials Fear Return to Bilateralism

Article excerpt

WHEN George Bush visited this city for a summit of NATO leaders in December 1989, he made a breakfast selection that had the European Community capital buzzing.

It wasn't a matter of corn flakes or grits: The United States president simply requested a breakfast meeting with Jacques Delors, president of the European Community's executive branch.

What caused the commotion was that Margaret Thatcher asked to see Mr. Bush at the same time and was put off. That the US president would keep the British prime minister cooling her heels while he had a power breakfast with the president of the European Commission left Community officials ecstatic.

Here was a symbolic moment, they said, a clear indication that the European Community had become an entity to be reckoned with, a sign that in Europe, the supranational was beginning to supersede the national. This was evidence that Europe's economic might was propelling it to the world stage.

That was before the Gulf war. These days, the merits of economic muscle alone are discounted. After a glaringly uncoordinated European response to the Gulf crisis, talk in Europe is of a "renationalization" of politics, especially concerning defense.

Observers cite Belgium's refusal to sell ammunition to the militarily engaged British forces as symbolic of the divisions that persist in the Community of 12, which a year ago appeared to be moving ahead increasingly as one. Mr. Delors, said by some observers to be morose over the EC's prospects for closer political integration after the Gulf experience, simply isn't as visible as he was in the heady days of Europe 1989.

Yet moroseness is not the reigning atmosphere in the hallways of the EC Commission here. Officials acknowledge that the euphoria caused by the events of 1989, when the world's eyes were turned to Europe, has passed, that enthusiasm for European economic and political union has cooled a few degrees. …

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