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The Independent Online
Euro-lethargy THE EU at this stage does not even approach the federalist visions of Francois Mitterand or Helmut Kohl. It is 12 separate states - shortly to be 15 - that are now moving only slowly toward a closer affiliation, even with regard to that most fundamental of goals, the creation of a single market.

The lethargy is evident at almost every level of activity. . . [when] social affairs ministers gathered this week, it was as if all of them, save Britain's Michael Portillo, had been locked in a dark room these last two years with no access to press or television. Otherwise, how could they have not heard that Europe has an unemployment crisis? That they haven't was evidenced by their vote for still higher labor costs for employers. They were furious when Mr Portillo exercised a veto and now talk of going ahead without Britain.

There is very little effort being made to reform the community's agricultural and regional policies, which would seem to be a prerequisite for admitting the agrarian Central European nations. But perhaps the problem will ultimately be handled by allowingthose nations to opt out of these programs temporarily, just as Britain and Denmark have been permitted to choose their own comfort levels with the demands of the Maastricht treaty. . . if the end result is a broader and more open common market, it willbe worth whatever sacrifices of consistency are necessary.

Editorial in `Wall Street Journal'