13 MARCH 1953, Page 1

Little Europe Struggling

-Not one of the projects for the building of European " Com- munities " is developing smoothly. As our correspondent in Paris points out on a later page, France is getting steadily deeper into a debate on the future of the European Defence Community. That debate differs from some French political debates in that it is concerned with a real and solid issue—the degree of control which the French Government is to exercise over its own armed forces. But even if internal agreement could be reached on this point without a change of Government, which is doubtful, there are very few indications that it will also be possible to settle the final terms of the E.D.C. Treaty with Germany easily and harmoniously. M. Bidault, the French Foreign Minister, whose natural deficiency in (or distaste for) the arts of persuasion seems to be exaggerated by a lack of personal conviction where Little Europe is concerned, appears most unlikely to win over either his own countrymen or the Germans to a genuine and equitable E.D.C. Even the Coal and Steel Community, which has passed the stage of purely political argument, is running into difficulties about the right of individual countries to impose sales taxes on their coal production—difficulties which are so fundamental that their persistence throws doubt on the practical significance of the common market for coal which already formally exists. As to the proposed Political Community, whose constitution has been debated this week at Strasbourg, it is so far from practical politics that M. Spaak, of Belgium, one of the Community's most determined sponsors, had to describe the scheme as "neither federated nor confederal "—a somewhat perplexing combination of negatives. It is hardly surprising that there is no rush of British adherents to the schemes of Little Europe, when the promoters of those schemes themselves apparently feel so doubtful about them.