12 SEPTEMBER 1952, Page 2

Saar Changing Course

There is no longer any doubt that changes in the status of the Saar are on the, way. Following quickly on M. Schuman's proposal to " Europeanise " the Saarland have come reports of French willingness to loosen some of the eciftilomic ties binding the Saar industries to France and of the revival of expression among the Saarlanders themselves of their strong affinities with Germany. The local Socialists, who had certainly not been regarded as wishing to break up the present arrangement too quickly, seem to have judged the direction of the wind exactly. They jump at the suggestion of Europeanisation, they insist that it should be something more than a phrase, they accept the hints of a looser relationship with France as a matter of course and they go on to point out that a number of measures to reduce existing barriers between the Saar and Germany would be equally natural. It is hardly possible to find fault with this practical assessment of the first implications of Europeanisation. In fact if the Saarlanders had not such a pronounced reputation for being political weathercocks the Socialist party programme could be accepted as good sense once and for all. The trouble is the persistence of the suspicion—and it doubtless persists more strongly in France than anywhere else—that if the wind veered still further in the direction of an increasingly strong and prosperous Germany the Saarlanders would automatically follow it. The suspicion may be unjust. And in any case this is hardly the moment at which the Saarlanders could intervene to tell both France and Germany how they should settle the future status of the territory. But if the people of the Saar really believe that a European federal district could be created, that it would work, and that it would be a good thing for the whole of Europe as well as for themselves personally, then they will gain nothing but respect by giving evidence of their belief and holding steadily to it. It would not settle the question. The exact economic orientation of the area would still be a major prob- lem, as it is at this moment. But it would help.