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Coming of Age: The European Community and The Economic Summit

Susan Hainsworth

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1988: TORONTO (17-19 June)

The structural dimension of the internal market programme received a large amount of attention at the 1988 Toronto summit, stressing the fact that the European 1992 aspiration has exercised a large influence upon the actions and policies of the West European summit participants, and that no EC member state is capable of acting autonomously or individually in the domain of structural adjustment policies. Rather, the Community member states must act collectively in accordance with their acknowledged common objective. The "Annex on Structural Reforms" of the 1988 final summit communiqué states:

In addition to the increased attention attributed to the evolving internal formation of the EC, the Community's summit partners stressed their concern regarding the international commercial policies and practices of the world's largest trading bloc.

At Toronto, the EC's summit partners were anxious to gain reassurances and firm commitments from the Commission that the European internal market of 1992 would not be a "Fortress Europe", ormono lithic protectionist trading bloc. In addition, the Canadian Prime Minister Mulroney, as host of the Toronto summit, wished to obtain endorsement from his summit partners for the Canada United States Free Trade Agreement which was still under consideration. The final communique of the 1988 Toronto Summit referred directly to both 1992 and the FTA, while stressing the need to respect the parameters and conventions delineated by the GATT. Article XXIV of the General Agreement condones the creation of free trade zones and common markets in the hopes that such zones will eventually encourage comprehensive global trade liberalisation. In actuality,in order to attain a harmonious summit consensus through endorsing both the 1992 initiative and the FTA, the Summit Seven-Plus may have endorsed the practices of commercial regionalism and bilateralism.

One of the major commercial disputes at the Toronto Summit revolved around the bitter ECUS wrangle about agricultural trade subsidies. Agricultural trade practices had first come under scrutiny at the 1986 Tokyo Summit, and considerable, if symbolic, progress had been made at the 1987 Venice Summit in this area. At Toronto,bargaining was immensely difficult primarily because the European member states participating at the Toronto conference had eliminated their margin of manoeuvre on this issue through their approval of the "Delors package" at the Brussels European Council meeting in February 1988. The Commission emphasised that the phenomenal success achieved through the ratification of Delor's package deal of reforms involving the Community's structural funds, budgetary discipline, and agricultural arrangements had entailed substantial concessions on the part of the Community member states.The terms of the landmark Brussels agreement, particularly with respect to reform of the CAP, formed the basis for a solid EC consensus position and rendered any other significantly progressive agreements in this area unlikely in the near future.85

The Commission also pointed out that while the margin of manoeuvre of the Community and its member states may have been constrained, its bargaining power and position at Toronto were greatly enhanced by the ratification of the Delors package of reforms at the February 1988 European Council session.86 Thus, in this case, evolution in the internal EC system-specifically, the approval of the Delors package of reforms at the Brussels 1988 European Council, which gave practical embodiment to the provisions of the SEA, and made progress towards 1992 possible had a strong effect upon Commission and overall EC performance and influence in summit deliberations.

North South issues remained an EC priority in the year following the Commission's victory in Venice in this realm: the Community sustained its high profile on debt issues, consolidating the progress which it had been made since the Venice initiative involving the largest LDC debtors.

The environment was discussed at Toronto, and the leaders endorsed the Montreal Protocol for the Protection of the Ozone layer which had been finalised in 1987. The European Community had been influential in lobbying for international support for and adherence to this pioneering protocol and was insistent that an acknowledgement by the summit leaders be included in the final communique. Also in the domain of the environment, the EC's intention to host an international Bioethics Conference was accorded specific reference, acknowledging the EC's initiative and activity in the field.

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