Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Bonn Prods Europe for Expanded Union

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Bonn Prods Europe for Expanded Union

Article excerpt

PLOWING through the acrimony generated by a proposal to form a two-tier European Union, Germany is pressing ahead with efforts to expand and strengthen pan-Continental cooperation.

Germany and France Tuesday called on the European Commission - the EU's executive branch - to establish a framework for the incorporation of the formerly Communist states of Central Europe into the Western economic and political fold. The EU has indicated it is open to membership by Central European nations, but currently no precise blueprint exists for merging the formerly Communist states into the EU.

Bonn and Paris have been the driving force behind attempts to forge a federal Europe. Germany currently holds the rotating EU presidency. It will be succeeded by France on Jan. 1.

Meanwhile, German officials and commentators have been defending a controversial proposal on the EU's immediate future. The proposal, contained in a position paper made public Sept. 1 by Germany's governing Christian Democratic Union, called for an accelerated effort on EU integration, with Germany and at least four other EU nations forming a "core" to pave the way.

The German plan provoked a storm of protest from some powerful nations not slated to be in the core group, particularly Britain and Italy. Some leaders hinted that the plan demonstrated a desire by Germany to become a hegemonistic power in Europe.

While some German commentators concede the wording of the Christian Democrat position paper was heavy-handed, many insist that public debate on the EU's future shape is long overdue.

For Germans, speed appears to outweigh all other considerations in the discussion on EU integration. Hesitation, many Germans worry, could be fatal to the realization of a EU unified by a common currency and single foreign policy. And the alternative could be a return to the ruinous balance-of-power arrangements of previous centuries, some commentators suggest. …

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