2 JUNE 1961, Page 9

The Treaty of Rome

The Treaty of Rome was signed on March 25, 1957. Its effect was to bring into being the Euro- pean Economic Community (EEC), for which the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) launched six years earlier had been, as it were, a pilot scheme. On the same day that the EEC Treaty was signed another was also signed in Rome, setting up the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom). The underlying purpose of these Communities is political, not econo- mic. It is to create, gradually but irreversibly, a new Super-Power, by turning Western Europe into a Super-State.

In the very first sentence of the Preamble to the Rome Treaty the high contracting parties determine 'to establish the foundations of an ever closer union among the European peoples.' In the Treaty itself the economic aims alone have sweeping political implications. The term 'Com- mon Market,' now freely used as a synonym for the EEC, is most inadequate and misleading, because the intention to establish a common market is only one feature of the Community. Nothing less than a total harmonisation of economic policies and practices is envisaged. All impediments to free competition—in the fields of capitaLlabour, State purchase, national rules and standards, and every kind of monopoly—are to be progressively removed. Each Member-State is bound 'in the course of the first stage' (i.e., by the end of this year) to apply 'the principle of equal remuneration for equal work as between men and women workers.'

The Treaty lays down a time-table for the en- forcement of its provisions. The 'transitional period' of twelve years is divided into three four- year stages (starting at January 1, 1957). But the transitional process may be—in fact already has been—accelerated. The final date may be post- poned by three years to 1972, but is more likely, on present form, to be reached before 1969.

Most relevant to this article, and most distinc- tive in the Treaty, are the Community's institu- tions, which are recognisably federal in character. The four key institutions are the Council of Ministers, the Commission, the Assembly and the Court of Justice. During the transitional period the Council of Ministers has wide freedom ol action within the terms of the Treaty. It con- sists of the representatives of national Govern- ments, with weighted voting-power (France, Italy and Germany four votes each, Belgium and the Netherlands two votes each, Luxembourg one vote). But decisions of the Council do not have to be approved by national Cabinets cir ratified by national Parliaments. Moreover some may be taken on a majority vote, though many have to be unanimous.

With each new decision of the Council the power of the Commission grows. Its function is to apply the rules and also to formulate policy. No more than two of its nine members may be nationals of the same State, and they are all charged `to perform their duties in the general interest of the Community with complete in- dependence.' They may be removed only by a two-thirds majority vote of censure in the Assembly, to which they are also required to ex- pound policy and answer questions.

The Assembly is made up of representatives from national Parliaments (thirty-six each from the Big Three, fourteen each from Belgium and the Netherlands, six from Luxembourg). It is not as yet a legislative body, though it may be able to claim more power when it is directly elected, as foreshadowed in Article 138 (3) of the Treaty. Its members divide on lines of opinion (Liberal, Socialist, Christian Democrat), not on national lines. The Court of Justice, composed of seven judges, is the legal interpreter and arbitra- tor of the Community, with competence to rule against a Member-State no less than any other 'natural or legal person,' including the Commis- sion and the Council.

The Community has its own budget, with revenue from the Member-States on a fixed per- centage basis. It also has a Social Fund, to promote employment and ease the conditions in which workers change jobs under the pressure of a liberalised and rationalised European economy; an Investment Bank, for the benefit of underdeveloped regions (Southern Italy, for instance) and to assist modernisation; and an Overseas Development Fund for associated territories, mainly in Africa.

Diplomatic representatives have already been accredited to the EEC by twenty-two countries, who recognise it for what it is—a Power in the making. Among the twenty-two are the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa; the United States, Japan, Spain and Ireland. Brussels, seat of the Commission, is becoming, like Rome, a double capital.