European summit: decisions, decisions. . . some made, some postponed
Stuttgart, West Germany
In what was previewed as a make-or-break summit June 17-19, the European Community was in fact neither made nor broken. Good will was expressed, but the financial crisis lingers on.
The summit of the Ten did set the goal of long-term trims in a budget that at current spending rates will bankrupt the EC by next year. It reendorsed the languishing European political goal of an ''ever closer union.'' And it began what may turn out to be a shift to a new German bridging of French-British conflicts in the Community.
The European council of heads of government and state did not, however, agree on any guidelines for cuts in the farm surplus supports that eat up two-thirds of the EC budget. It put these off until the next summit in Athens in December, under the Greek July-December presidency of the council.
Nor did the summit set any timetable for the entry of Spain and Portugal into the EC - a move now resisted by France but originally promised to these two countries as they emerged from dictatorships in the mid-1970s.
The summit's specific results were thus twofold:
* The EC conditionally promised Britain half of its requested rebate on its 1973 contributions to the EC budget.
* The government heads signed a ''solemn agreement'' aiming toward European unity and for the first time formalizing the European council summits. For almost a decade these summits have been the real political motor of the EC, but they have never before been institutionalized.
The results added up to a success, in the view of an aide to West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, the summit host. The Germans helped get a rather diverse 10 states to look beyond national interests, he suggested, and agree that EC enlargement and future increases in spending must be linked in a package with economies in present EC (agricultural) spending.
The Germans also helped get France to drop its opposition to naming a specific figure for the British 1973 rebate - and by doing so, to prevent British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher from refusing to discuss the EC's future financial package.
The British rebate will be 750 million European currency units (ECUs), or about $650 million, pending agreement on the EC's future financing package. This is less than Thatcher wanted, but with the rebates for the previous three years it adds up to a satisfactory 65.4 percent rebate on Britain's EC contributions from 1980 on.
In the political context, the significance of the British rebate agreement (and of Thatcher's landslide victory this month in the British general election) is greater than it might seem. For the first time since London belatedly joined the EC 10 years ago, the British question now has moved beyond the existential one of whether the United Kingdom would stay in the Community to the more ordinary one of just what the financial terms would be.
This in turn has moved the Germans closer to a community of interests with the British. The two countries, as the EC's only net contributors, have long had a common financial interest in reducing the EC's huge farm expenditures. But West Germany, alienated by Britain's coolness toward the EC, has more often lined up with farm-subsidy recipient France than with Britain.
Now this pattern has started to break up. And British diplomats hope for a greater joint German-British weight within the EC. Common bilateral viewpoints should be reinforced, they maintain, by the political fellowship of conservatives in London and Bonn (as against the Socialist President Francois Mitterrand in Paris).
The British also hope that West Germany's notable psychological deference to France over the past 20 years - as the one country that could join West Germany in European leadership and give respectability to the sons of Germany's World War II aggressors - should now yield to more objective national German interests.
There will be hard financial bargaining between now and December, and perhaps beyond. The French economy and society are weak and not conducive to major concessions on subsidies for southern French peasants or other issues. Yet the Germans at least think that the French have been kept away from the worst sorts of protectionism -partly through generous German exchange-rate support for the franc - and that France's basic commitment to the European ideal will carry the day.
The Germans are also eager to keep Italy in the forefront of European cooperation against sometime French resistance. The ''solemn declaration'' was a German-Italian initiative intended to maintain political momentum toward European unity precisely at a time when financial quarrels threaten to pull the EC apart.
The somewhat watered-down declaration still presages a greater ceremonial role for the elected European Parliament - to an extent that brought Danish and Greek reservations to the statement. The six-month rotating president of the European council is now committed to present regular reports to the European Parliament.
One additional declaration of the Stuttgart summit may generate some friction with the US. Besides calling for national reconciliation in Poland and ending the EC financial sanctions against Israel that followed the entry of Israeli troops into Lebanon, the council also endorsed the Central American initiative of the ''Contadora group'' (Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, and Panama). This calls for political solutions to civil wars in Central America, rather than the military solutions favored by the Reagan administration.