Yawns inside the European Union

By , Milan, Italy

IT is difficult to say on first sight whether Europe comes out stronger or weaker from these [European Union] elections. The general drop in participation at the ballot box demonstrates that pretty much everywhere the cheers of the Europe fans are getting weaker. Even if most people know that up to now the Strasbourg parliament has counted for little, Europe's impotence in the face of the Yugoslav tragedy, the economic decline of the old Continent, and the spread of unemployment has not sufficed to arouse interest.

In fact the EU seems more and more to be a club that fascinates those outside it and bores those inside. The risk implied by the new balance of power resulting from the elections ... is that Europe will be pushed toward growth in breadth instead of depth, toward a Europe ``more obese than robust'' as Le Monde said.

The new political landscape in the Community will ... bring with it a tendency, already visible, to give precedence to the advantages of a wider and wider market, postponing the deadlines for the federal constitution, monetary union, common foreign and military policies, the Social Charter, and the rights of the citizens.

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