AS senior officials of the European Community prepared for an
all-day meeting April 6 on how to give new impetus to the EC's
Single Market, some officials commented sardonically that the range
of discussion was too modest.
"Maybe we should be looking beyond the Single Market at how to
get the whole Community moving again," said one senior official.
His comment reflects the glum mood at EC headquarters in
Brussels, where the activism of previous years has been supplanted
by a low-profile holding pattern.
The EC was supposed to be in the midst of implementing
provisions of the Maastricht Treaty on deeper economic and
political integration, which was to have taken effect at the
beginning of the year. But the treaty remains in limbo, awaiting
the uncertain outcome of ratification procedures in Britain and
In addition, the razor-thin victory of France's referendum on
Maastricht last September and an earlier "no" from the Danes the
first time they voted, plus a succession of unencouraging
public-opinion surveys, indicate just how poorly EC government is
"The Community's situation is very bad," says one official close
to EC Commission President Jacques Delors. "It's common for people
to say that the Community advances in good times and falls back in
bad, but no one's too sure when the sky is going to clear this
Mr. Delors himself told the European Parliament recently that
"the very idea of a united Europe is in peril."
Comments like this have led to a fresh round of commentary on
"Euro-pessimism," a malaise that first struck the Community after
the oil shocks of the 1970s. But one senior official says the
Community's condition is more accurately "Euro-disappointment,"
because it results from several specific points on which the EC has
"fallen short" of Europeans' expectations.
Those points include:
* Europe's economic downturn, and especially the psychologically
deflating juxtaposition of postwar record-high unemployment, and
the arrival of the EC's long-touted Single Market.
* The war in Yugoslavia, and the EC's inability to take decisive
action against armed conflict in Europe.
* Inability to ratify the Maastricht Treaty on schedule, a
failure that has broken a sense of momentum and replaced it with a
feeling of drift.
EC leaders are especially sensitive to criticism of the
Community's response to Yugoslavia. …