Cold comfort from Chancellor Kohl
Thursday 07 December 1995
Around the time of their last meeting, the Germans had privately begun referring to France as the "patient". It was this sort of talk that finally prompted Mr Chirac to declare, after months of shilly-shallying, that cutting the public deficit was his priority of priorities. Now the priority is being acted upon, and the patient is in high fever. But Mr Chirac is likely to look in vain for any meaningful act of sympathy. He will get, of course, the solemn affirmation of Franco-German solidarity on everything, which in any case is always recycled as a matter of course at these summits.
On substance, however, Mr Kohl can afford to be at his most self-righteous. Despite the burden of unification, equivalent to transferring to the east each year some 5 per cent of GDP, Germany has succeeded, through the recession of 1993 and 1994, in driving down its public deficit to below the Maastricht criteria level. France and Britain, in more favourable economic conditions, have failed to achieve as much. Kenneth Clarke has just pushed back his deficit reduction timetable by another year, so that Britain should come in under the 3 per cent bar in 1997.
President Chirac, however, has less room for such sleight of hand - stepping up to the mark on EMU is a matter of honour, and the pressure of international market scrutiny is that much greater on France. The biggest problem is that the French economy is crawling along on annualised GDP growth of under 1 per cent, and unemployment is rising again: hardly ideal fundamentals for deficit-slashing. That was the whole point of the convergence criteria. They were not meant to offer choice, just Teutonic virtue.
- 1 Notting Hill Carnival: Woman shares selfie after being ‘punched in face for telling man to stop groping her’
- 2 Keira Knightley topless: Usually conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
- 3 Daily Show's Jon Stewart destroys Fox News for its Ferguson coverage
- 4 When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
- 5 Brother and sister, Christopher Buckner and Timothy Savoy, arrested for 'committing incest after watching 'The Notebook''
Ashya King missing: Police hunt five-year-old boy with brain tumour snatched from Southampton hospital by his parents
Keira Knightley topless: Usually conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
YouTube video posted by Isis militants shows 'execution of 250 Syrian soldiers'
Botched ice bucket challenge leaves man critically injured after plane drops hundreds of gallons of water
Papua New Guinea Mount Tavurvur volcano eruption sees international flights diverted
Exclusive: We share blame for creating 'jihad generation', says Muslim strategist
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
Ukip Douglas Carswell defection: Tory MP jumps ship to join Nigel Farage
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Money & Business
£450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: SAS Business Analyst, London, Banking, Credit Ris...
£32000 - £38000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...
£200 - £250 per day + competitive: Orgtel: KYC Analyst, Key Banking Client, Bi...
£400 - £500 per day: Orgtel: Test Manager - Banking - West Yorkshire - £400-£5...