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EUROPEAN UNITY BACK ON TRACK

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Despite a stunning setback, the effort to turn the European common market into a United States of Europe is back on track again. But some potentially jarring bumps loom ahead that still could derail this ambitious movement.

Some important repair work was done this week when voters in Ireland approved a treaty by which the 12 countries of the European Economic Community are to coordinate their foreign and defense policies, set up a central bank and acquire a common currency.The treaty was rejected by Denmark earlier this month. Rejection by Ireland, too, would have created almost insurmountable obstacles to the unity movement.

Yet to be overcome is rising opposition to the treaty in France and Germany. Even if these and other European nations get on board, the pact requires approval by all 12 members. This means that Denmark must somehow be placated and persuaded.

One suggestion is that the Danes be allowed to remain outside parts of the agreement they find distasteful. But it's hard to imagine the drive toward unity succeeding when just one nation is granted special privileges. An exemption for Denmark seems bound to breed demands for more exemptions. More exemptions, in turn, would mean less unity. That being the case, the other nations should think about rewriting the pact and going ahead without Denmark.

In any event, either Europeans believe that greater unity is to their mutual benefit - or they do not. Everything else on this score is just a matter of working out the details.