Now comes the hard part for the European Community, which launched historic constitutional conventions on monetary union and political union at a two-day summit.

The two "intergovernmental conferences" inaugurated on Saturday are seen by Euro-federalist visionaries as the springboard to a "United States of Europe" with a single currency and joint foreign policy.It will be easier dreamed than done.

Tough negotiations lie ahead in the two conferences, which are expected to conclude late next year with suggested changes to the EC's founding document, the 1957 Treaty of Rome.

Although the summit concluded harmoniously with the unanimous final communique, closing news conferences revealed the deep divisions still remaining - particularly Britain's staunch opposition to a single EC currency.

Britain's new prime minister, John Major, presented a constructive new British style toward EC affairs - in stark contrast to the abrasive approach of his predecessor, Margaret Thatcher - but he made clear that the United Kingdom's policies are unchanged.

Instead of a single currency, Major has proposed an alternative 13th EC currency, a "hard ECU" (European currency unit) that would compete alongside the national currencies.

Jacques Delors, the powerful president of the EC executive Commission, said the "hard ECU" proposal critically fails to provide for a common monetary policy.

"To derail us into something that would not lead to a single currency and a single central bank would be a distraction," he said. "If we need to provoke a political crisis, we will do so."

Major also indicated he is ready for a battle.

Asked if he is prepared to use Britain's veto in the intergovernmental conferences, he said, "That, of course, is what the veto is there for."

A common EC security policy will also require some hard bargaining, given France's traditional independence on defense matters and the neutrality of EC member Ireland. Other neutrals including Austria and Sweden also seek to join the EC.

Many nuts-and-bolts issues of EC governance also must be resolved.