Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Today's Europe - and the Europe of 1600

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Today's Europe - and the Europe of 1600

Article excerpt

IN the wake of communism's collapse and the reawakening of old ethnic rivalries in eastern Europe, it has become common to speak of similarities between the current situation and that in the early part of this century.

So it was challenging to this mind-set to be reminded by a senior German journalist, Lothar Ruhl of Die Welt, that Europe is in fact back to the position it enjoyed in about 1600.

Mr. Ruhl's point is that Europe is again in the process of becoming a single unit. And, although he did not say so explicitly, this unity comprises essentially the area defined by Western Christendom.

Poland remains the frontier, with Russia not directly included in Europe. And this particular delineation of borders includes virtually all those countries most likely to become associated with the European Community (EC) over the next generation.

The present debate over enlargement of the EC often uses the vocabulary of "widening" versus "deepening." The Germans I have spoken with in recent weeks believe that both must happen simultaneously. That is, the institutional mechanism of the EC must be deepened, but this deepening cannot be at the expense of applicant countries waiting longer than they otherwise would to become members.

By January 1993, the economic union should be complete. As of that moment, only 15 months away, there is supposed to be complete mobility of the labor force within the 12 countries. Understanding the challenge that even this development presents makes one appreciate the dilemma the nations of Europe are currently facing over immigration policy from without.

There is also strong support for the economic union becoming some kind of political union, although the implications of this are far from spelled out.

In the immediate future, the challenge is to complete the monetary union, a step that Britain is widely blamed for holding back on.

On the other hand, Norbert Walter, economist for the Deutsche Bank, cautioned that over the next few years it may appear that Germany itself is trying to slow down the move to monetary union. Actually, he claimed, this would only be a sign that the Germans want the moves to be correct ones, "in line with what the Bundesbank would do. …

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