The Search Goes On for a Permanent Home
LETTERHEAD stationery for the European Commission states curiously that its Brussels headquarters is a ``temporary'' address, though the curved concrete and glass building in Brussels has been home since 1963. For reasons of pride - and economics - the European Community has never been able to agree on permanent locations for its institutions.
On June 26 the EC's heads of state and government wrapped up a two-day summit in Dublin where such momentous issues as economic and political integration and Western aid to the Soviet Union were discussed. It was decided to maintain sanctions against South Africa.
But while European analysts trumpet the European Community's emergence as a international power, the nagging issue of institution addresses is a reminder that the community is still a developing collection of sovereign nations.
At the top of the location problem is the European Parliament, which calls Strasbourg, France, home, but which meets periodically in Brussels. Many European parliamentarians would like to move lock, stock, and microphone to Brussels, but France won't hear of it.
After all, say the French, Strasbourg - sitting just across the Rhine from Germany - is an important symbol of European peace and prosperity. It has always been the parliament's home. Losing the parliament would also deal a full blow to the city's economy and prestige, of course.
Also waiting for resolution are sites for the EC's new environment agency; a new training and continuing education organization for Eastern Europe's industry and management; a new office for university exchanges; and the community's trademarks agency. Failure to settle the issue is holding up work, EC officals say.
But with such decisions requiring unanimity, France says it will not sign off on anything until the Strasbourg question is settled.
Resolving the problem became more difficult after France and Britain recently persuaded Western nations to award them the presidency and the headquarters, respectively, of the new European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, over the wails of smaller EC nations.
A showdown was anticipated in Dublin. But the issue was put off at the final session with a decision to turn over the matter to the diplomatic skills of Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti.
``The irony is that twelve of us have decided to marry our economies and politics,'' muses one EC spokesman, ``but we can't decide where we're going to set up house.''