Common Market in Disarray

June 8, 1984

Report Outline
Challenges to Unity
Drive for Integration
Prospects for Viability
Special Focus

Challenges to Unity

Recent Disaggrements Among Members

Even AS the United States pulls out of its longest economic downturn since the 1930s, Western Europe remains mired in the recession that abruptly halted its phenomenal post-World War II growth. Although the recession has apparently bottomed out in Europe, unemployment remains at an all-time high and promises to rise even further, basic industries are failing and labor unrest is growing as governments can no longer support some of the world's most generous welfare systems.

One of the most conspicuous victims of Europe's economic ills has been the European unification movement whose most successful institution, the Brussels-based European Economic Community, was largely responsible for the continent's rapid emergence from the rubble of World War II as a world economic superpower. The EEC has gone far toward making of its 10 member nations a truly “common market,” as it is also known, by removing barriers to the free flow of goods and labor across their borders.

But a decade of economic decline has dampened enthusiasm for the drive toward European unity. Recession has led the EEC member nations to look after their own interests, often at the expense of the Community as a whole. As the leaders of the Common Market gather at Fontainebleau, France, June 25–26, the EEC will be on the verge of bankruptcy, its operating funds depleted, its members seemingly unable to devise a plan for increasing revenues. The last two summit meetings of the 10's leaders—in Athens last December and in Brussels in March—failed to bring them any closer to solving the budget dilemma that has hobbled the EEC's operations in recent years. Economic concerns will also be paramount in the minds of voters as they head to the polls in mid-June for the second Community-wide elections to the European Parliament.

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