A leading spokesman for international ocean liner companies believes Europe and the United States are closer philosophically than ever to a common approach to global shipping problems.

That view was expressed here Thursday by Hans Jacob Kruse, chairman of Hapag-Lloyd AG and current chairman of the Council of European and Japanese Shipowners' Associations.Mr. Kruse was referring to the European Community's recent adoption of rules to govern competition, bar unfair pricing and coordinate resistance to discriminatory and restrictive foreign practices.

He said the action brings the two great trading blocs to the closest they have ever come to being able to present a united front to cope with shipping problems.

This is important to shipowners, he told reporters, in confronting such problems as excessive shipbuilding, specific discriminatory practices and the review of the cargo-sharing Code of Liner Conduct of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development to begin late this year.

The United States has opposed the code from the outset. Europe did not.

But Mr. Kruse said European maritime countries, which consider it impossible to repeal the code, now want to ensure that it isn't enlarged beyond present limits.

Protective and restrictive cargo policies, notably in underdeveloped countries, are high priority matters for both European and U.S. shipping interests.

Europe and the United States seem united on that point, he said, and should act jointly and not play our own little games as has occurred in the past.

The liner code, promoted by the less developed countries through Unctad, has done nothing to improve world trade, he said.

Mr. Kruse said that during his visit he had made the rounds of U.S. government officials and congressmen and senators concerned with shipping policy.

He came away, he said, greatly encouraged at the amount of common ground we were able to identify.

It is clear that there is far more that unites us than divides us on the broad area of shipping policy, he added.

He said there was total agreement that protectionism in various guises is a besetting evil which is against all our interests, and especially those of consumers.

Developing our common interests on maritime policy would go a long way toward reliberalizing trade in international maritime transport services.

Mr. Kruse believes the harmonizing of views between Europe and the United States on shipping has gone far enough to virtually end longstanding differences on open vs. closed shipping conferences.

The European traditional preference for closed conferences isn't as strong as once perceived here, and Mr. Kruse sees the U.S. demand for free entry into such rate-making bodies becoming somewhat less dogmatic as accommodations have been made.

He thinks the major foreign maritime powers and the United States can define the types of protectionist systems that are objectionable and should explore some formal joint resistance procedures to combat them.

As for troublesome competition from state-owned carriers - principally

from the Socialist Bloc countries - Mr. Kruse felt it essential that Europe, Japan and the United States should first define what constitutes unfair operations and then find workable ways of controlling them.

In seeking a level playing field of fair competitive practices worldwide, however, it would be wrong to confuse the very distinct issue of trading in goods with the supply of shipping services.

He hopes the U.S. Congress, in trying to work out a trade bill, does not pre-empt the wider objective of expanding trade and removing barriers by including shipping provisions which would be inimical to the broader trade goals.

(More extreme shipping provisions have been discarded or are in the process of being revised.)