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 Kim Jong-un shows off airport designed by architect he likely had executed
- 2 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 3 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 4 Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L James's Twitter Q&A didn't go exactly as planned
- 5 Facebook rainbow profile pictures likely being tracked by social network
Kim Jong-un shows off airport designed by architect he likely had executed
Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
Ex-Scientologist Carmen Llwyelyn blasts 'cult' and her treatment after divorce with Jason Lee
German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
Tunisia attack: 'Paralysed' police let gunman run amok for half an hour, says witness
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato
They are neither a 'state' nor 'Islamic': Why we shouldn't call them Isis, Isil or IS
Tunisia beach attack: How can British Muslims respond to the latest outrages?
iJobs Money & Business
£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...
£22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This extremely successful and well-established...
Competitive with monthly bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced FX...