A senior representative of the 10 European Economic Community nations has warned the Reagan administration that a growing number of disputes between the United States and Europe about trade and foreign policy could split the North Atlantic alliance.
Foreign Minister Kjeld Olesen of Denmark, current EEC president, said he told Reagan Cabinet members in meetings here the last two days that the U.S. government "should not regard this as a minor problem" but as "something that could escalate into bigger troubles" that could lead to "a split among allies."
Olesen singled out President Reagan's decision to forbid European subsidiaries of U.S. firms or European firms using U.S.-licensed equipment from participating in construction of the planned Soviet natural gas pipeline to western Europe. That decision, Olesen complained, was made without consulting the Europeans. He also cited a dispute about exports of cheap European steel to the United States.
He said this could lead to other trade conflicts.
"I don't want to overdramatize the problems," Olesen said after meetings with Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Treasury Secretary Donald T. Regan. Olesen, who formally represented all of the EEC in the talks, said the Europeans "will do our utmost to try to calm this down."
"But I feel I have an obligation to convey the strong feelings in Europe," Olesen said.
The Danish foreign minister stressed that while not all EEC countries are directly affected by disputes involving the pipeline, steel exports and other issues, "all 10 stand behind the affected countries. "
Olesen said he received a sympathetic but noncomittal hearing from Shultz and Regan. Without saying what indications they may have given him of U.S. actions to try to solve the disputes, Olesen said he hopes that some accommodation can be reached on the pipeline and steel issues.
Otherwise, he warned, "I believe we will now be in a period in Europe where we say, 'Okay, we will stand on our two feet, and workers in Illinois will see that we will buy equipment for the pipeline from somewhere else.'
"You have 10 million unemployed, but we have 11 million unemployed in the European Community countries."