All the European leaders agreed they were living a historic moment last Friday, when Spain and Portugal were admitted into the European Community after more than six years of negotiations. ``Entry into Europe will decisively influence the future of Spain and will change the daily lives, expectations and horizons of Spaniards over both the short-term and long-term,'' editorialized El P'ais, Madrid's leading daily. A former top Spanish negotiator in the talks called the agreement the most important event since 1492 -- the year Columbus discovered the New World.
Portuguese Prime Minister M'ario Soaresv remarked in Lisbon that ``Everything will change.''
In Brussels, however, the summit meeting of the 10 current leaders of the community was having trouble celebrating the fact that the EC would expand to 12 next January 1, that its land mass would increase by one third, and its population from 280 million to 320 million.
The leaders were grappling with Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou's threat to veto the entire epoch-making development unless he received financial compensation for Greek farmers who face competition from Spanish farmers.
Much of the meeting was therefore spent on haggling over aid for Greece, Italy, and France, the countries most directly affected by the EC enlargement. Finally, after several rounds of bargaining, Greece agreed on a sum, clearing the way for Spain and Portugal to end decades of isolation and join most of the other democracies of Europe in an economic, and increasingly political, community.
The seemingly endless discussions over the terms of entry for the two states underlined the difficult problems associated with enlargement which the EC now faces.