A NEW global entity is developing in Europe. ``The Community'' is far from a union of states, yet the American visitor returning to this continent after two decades is impressed with the extent of the legal and institutional ties that more and more bind 12 European nations. The press in London is at the present time paying special attention to the Community. In accord with the EC practice of a six-month rotation of the chair of the Council of Ministers, the United Kingdom presides over this body until the end of the year. In addition, the British Parliament, in parallel with the legislatures of other member countries, is proceeding with the ratification of the single European act that will make further changes in the Treaty of Rome, which established the European Community.
The extent of the present ties are recounted in The Economist of Nov. 8. The Council of Ministers in Brussels fixes farm prices and rules on commercial fishing. The European Commission has exclusive rights to run antitrust policy in all 12 member nations, directly prosecuting and fining violating companies. The Commission controls the amount of cash and other aid governments can give to their own industries. The representative of the Commission speaks for the Community in trade negotiations.
The growing body of law being created by the EC takes precedence over the laws of individual nations. National parliaments are obliged to pass legislation to bring their laws into conformity with directives issued by the ministers in Brussels. The European Court of Justice is the final arbiter of Community law.
Institutions spread among the member countries and created within the Community framework regularly bring together those in special fields. The European Institute for the Media, for example, in Manchester, England, brings together executives and program directors of national television and press organizations.
At the same time, it is clear that formidable obstacles remain in the way of any closer political union. Those who discuss the progress of the Community are quick to caution that few speak any longer of a United States of Europe.