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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EU Faces Year of Stagnation in '94

BRUSSELS -- Last year may well have been the European Union's year of living dangerously as money and political crises came to a head, but 1994 is shaping up to be one of paralysis as the bloc indulges in an orgy of elections.


The Maastricht treaty is safely behind them, their currencies have all but settled down, and a world trade deal is all but sealed, but EU leaders know that their economies are still struggling out of recession, jobless queues are still growing and the political climate is changing.


The Dutch are due to hold their national elections in May, Germany has a spate of elections starting in March and climaxing in October, and Denmark is due an election before December.


In the middle of all this come European Parliament elections in June which will mean that the legislative process will start grinding to a halt by the late spring.


And these are just the scheduled events.


Italy will hold revolutionary national elections in March after the resignation last week of Prime Minister Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, Belgium is heading for political crisis over a bribery scandal concerning a multimillion-dollar helicopter deal with Italy, and Britain is going from one political drama to another.


To cap it all, a new president must be chosen by mid-year to head a new European Commission which must be appointed by the end of the year.


In short, the pace of decision-making in the 12-nation bloc is likely to slow to a gentle amble over the coming months as national eyes turn inward and party political agendas take increasing priority over supra-national matters.


Even France, which swapped a Socialist for a rightist government last year, will not be spared internal political wrangling as contenders maneuver into position for presidential elections in early 1995. The bloc still has the tricky task of negotiating accession deals with Norway, Sweden, Finland and Austria -- a job it is supposed to complete within the next six weeks.


It also still faces the intractable problem of how to end the war on its own doorstep in Bosnia-Herzegovina which has to date left the bloc looking weak and indecisive.


Greece has begun its six-month tenure of the Union's presidency in a somewhat confused fashion.


It has hit out at Germany over former Yugoslavia, Turkey for the Cyprus issue and the six EU members who have already recognized the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, while at the same time insisting that it intends to keep the motor of progress ticking over and continue with EU integration.


At the same time Germany, which takes over the EU presidency on July 1 -- just one month before the bloc's annual four-week summer vacation -- has already drawn up a work program that aims to get all serious issues out of the way by October in order to have a clear run at its own avalanche of elections.


Yet even then the work that will be done in the effective 10-week work period is likely to be colored by the political timetable in Bonn which is still trying to pull its economy out of the doldrums as it continues to suffer the aftershocks of union with the East more than two years ago.