Boris and Growing Europe

If you can't lick 'em, pretend to join 'em. That seemed to be Boris Yeltsin's motto after his high-profile, low-result meeting with the leaders of Germany and France last week.

The Russian chief emerged from his short summit with Helmut Kohl and Jacques Chirac to proclaim expansively that "Greater Europe ... will be the dominant power" in the world. Greater Europe, he implied, was a vast "organism" made up of the expanding European Union and Russia. In short, a superpower rival to the US.

No doubt it's good for the leaders of the three big powers to further their personal rapport. But not much more could have happened in the few hours of summitry. That's measured in minutes when you factor in triple language translation. So no new organism, no new superpower, was in fact born.

We hope the EU leaders learned more about Mr. Yeltsin's new young prime minister. And presumably they explained the latest EU news: That 11 of the union's 15 nations are now certified to join its single-currency bloc.

To qualify, the 11 did a lot of belt-tightening. But to make their deficit-control, debt-reduction regimen stick, they'll need to replay their own fitness video for years to come. Only that will shrink oversize welfare states, fund state pensions, and create more jobs. Then we can start to talk superpower.

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