Expectations Rise for EC Summit

Spanish premier's tour shows that, with exception of Britain, members back common policies. EUROPEAN COMMUNITY

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

SPANISH Prime Minister Felipe Gonz'alez M'arquez has found reason for hoping the European Community summit he hosts in Madrid next Monday will result in steps forward in the 32-year-old process of European integration. The increasing isolation of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has raised expectations of reaching an agreement at the European Council meeting in Madrid June 26 and 27. Her Conservative Party suffered major losses in elections to the European Parliament last week.

The success of the summit is very important to Mr. Gonz'alez, who led his party to power six-and-a-half years ago, when he was only 40, and has since shown signs of aiming for the role of European statesman. Spain has held the EC presidency for the past six months.

On Tuesday, a day after returning from a whirlwind tour of the other 11 EC capitals, Gonz'alez was reported to have expressed confidence about moving forward on a coordinated community-wide economic and social policy, despite British reluctance.

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?

Gonz'alez told former French President Val'ery Giscard D'Estaing that he expected an accord on the key issue of the European Monetary System (EMS), although the EC's ``social charter'' on workers' rights might have to wait until the next summit in Paris this December.

The monetary system fixes exchange rates among the various EC currencies, providing a measure of stability that facilitates intra-community transactions.

A report issued by EC President Jacques Delors calls for all 12 EC members to join the EMS by July 1990, as a preliminary step toward a common EC central bank and a single European currency.

Gonz'alez unexpectedly made Spain the ninth member of the EMS a week ago Friday, in a move seen as putting increased pressure on Britain at the summit. The sudden commitment to a common European economic policy was the more remarkable for having come only 3 years after Spain joined the EC. Britain joined in 1973.

British Conservative Party member Anthony Mayer promptly commented that ``while the advanced countries move ahead, Britain remains behind with Greece and Portugal,'' the only other EC countries that have not yet entered the EMS.

A Gallup poll commissioned by the EC and issued a week ago Friday showed that 93 percent of British businessmen believe that Britain should join the EMS.

On Monday, when Gonz'alez met with Mrs. Thatcher in London, election results showed Thatcher's Conservative Party had been beaten resoundingly by the opposition Labor Party. While the Tories lost 13 of their 45 seats to the Labour Party, Gonz'alez's Socialists held on to all but one of their 28 seats in the Strasbourg-based European Parliament

British Conservative members of the European Parliament did not hesitate to ascribe the loss to the anti-EC campaign conducted by their prime minister, who persistently attacked the ``Brussels bureaucracy'' and dismissed the social charter as ``Marxist.''

Thatcher accepts the EMS in principle, while maintaining that the moment is not yet right for Britain to join. But she rejects the next two steps prescribed in the Delors report - a European central bank and a common currency.

``The ability to carry out an independent monetary, economic, and financial policy,'' she said last week, ``lies at the heart of what constitutes a sovereign state.

Nevertheless, she is faced with a mounting rebellion within her own party as well as pressure from France and West Germany, among other EC members, to allow the process of economic integration to go forward.

Only Danish Prime Minister Poul Schl"uter seems to share her reservations about the Delors report recommendations on economic policy.

On the issue of what has been termed the EC's ``social space,'' on the other hand, there is less consensus. Mr. Delors was reported Wednesday to have advised against pressing the issue in Madrid.

Share this story:

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...