The United States and its allies yesterday agreed to a sweeping relaxation of barriers to sales of advanced computers, machine tools and telecommunications equipment to Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, the first formal recognition of the transformation of Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The changes approved in Paris will allow Moscow and its former satellite nations to buy the most sophisticated International Business Machines Corp. personal computers or Hewlett-Packard Co. business and scientific computers, or their U.S. equivalents, without approval of the 17-nation group that controls technology sales to communist nations, the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls, known as Cocom.

The changes also require a further paring by December of technology covered by Cocom rules so that only the crown jewels of Western technology, such as advanced supercomputers, will require export licenses.

"The 17 nations agreed on a major adaptation of Cocom to the new strategic environment," Ambassador Allan Wendt, the State Department's senior representative for strategic technology policy, said in a telephone interview from Paris.

"It is the most vivid action to date of the end of the Cold War. It says that Eastern Europe is not a problem any more," said former commerce undersecretary Paul Freedenberg, a specialist in technology transfer and national security.

The Cocom shift mirrors the changes now being debated in NATO as the Western security alliance tries to redefine its role in a post-Cold War era when the Warsaw Pact no longer exists as a military force and the threat from the Soviet Union diminishes in the face of its mounting ethnic and economic problems.

Cocom, made up of NATO members with the exception of Iceland, Japan and Australia, was pressed into moving more quickly than the military alliance by the economic forces unleashed in Eastern Europe.

The Soviet Union and its former satellite nations are looking toward the West to supply the technology and sophisticated products they need to modernize and invigorate their economies. And companies in the United States, Japan and Western Europe want to make those sales.

The impending unification of West Germany and East Germany added to the pressures on Cocom as the barriers between the two Germanies evaporated and West German companies sought to supply the same levels of technologies to their new operations in the East that they had in the West.

These global forces pushed the Bush administration into agreeing to a far more liberal system of Cocom controls than was thought possible as recently as six months ago, when the United States stood alone in insisting on stringent controls on sales to Eastern Europe.

Yesterday, however, the new agreement was hailed by the Bush administration.

"I am absolutely delighted. Its the best of all arrangements," said Commerce Secretary Robert A. Mosbacher. "We held Cocom together. We are supplying our Eastern European friends with the technology they need. And we are helping the competitiveness of American companies."

Commerce Undersecretary Dennis Kloske said: "We have a much stronger Cocom for the '90s, a Cocom that will emphasize controls on truly strategic technology, a Cocom that fully recognizes the fundamental strategic changes taking place within the East Bloc and a Cocom willing to extend preferential treatment to some Eastern European countries,"

On the commercial side, Kloske estimated that the new rules represent a major boost for trade with Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, and will remove as much as $45 billion in U.S. exports from Cocom regulations.

The allies gave in to the United States in agreeing to permit Eastern European countries such as Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland to receive imports of a far higher technological level than can the Soviet Union. Britain originally resisted that differentiation, but in the end agreed to a formula that encompassed the U.S. position.

These countries would gain "preferential treatment" because they have established democratic governments, free-market economies and regimes that include on-site inspections to protect Western technology from leaking to the Soviet military.

One of the main achievements of the two-day meeting was an agreement to start from scratch and draw up a new list of the most crucial Western technologies by December.

"We have agreed to establish a shorter, clearer core list {of restricted items}, blowing away the cobwebs and ambiguities built up over the years," a Western European diplomat told the Reuter news service. Wendt described the initiative as building higher fences around a small core list of products.

Cocom members also agreed to end controls on 30 of 116 protected technology categories by July 1 and on another eight categories by mid-August. These are low-end technologies, such as metal rolling mills, pumps and electrical furnaces, but they clogged the Cocom approval process by accounting for about half the license applications that flowed into the organization.

Another European delegate estimated that once the core list is in place the number of export licenses applications would fall to about 10 percent of the present 1,500 applications filed annually.