German court throws out monetary union challenge

THE remaining opposition in Germany to European monetary union crumbled yesterday as the country's highest court threw out legal challenges to the project and the enabling legislation passed the Bundestag in its first reading.

Dismissing petitions brought by professors as "clearly unfounded", the Constitutional Court removed the final legal hurdle. Manfred Brunner, the leading anti-Euro campaigner who drew less than a thousand largely neo-Nazi demonstrators to his rally at the weekend, conceded his petition stood no chance.

One of the two petitions swept aside by the court yesterday had been submitted by four German professors in January. It had called for a postponement of monetary union, arguing that prospective members, including Germany, had failed to meet the Maastricht criteria.

The second challenge had been filed by Hans-Heinrich Rupp, a university professor in Mainz, who claimed he was being denied his constitutional right to participate in decisions on monetary union. The court declared it had already ruled in 1993 that adopting the euro was constitutional if the euro criteria were strictly met and parliament decided to go ahead.

Last week the Bundesbank declared the 11 member states nominated by the European Commission had indeed fulfilled the convergence criteria, although it urged that Belgium and Italy in particular should make further efforts to reduce their public debt burdens.

Monetary union is no longer a political issue in Germany. "The conditions for a stable European currency were never as good as today," said Chancellor Helmut Kohl in the debate in the lower house. Some may disagree, notably Gerhard Schroder, the opposition Social Democrats' chancellor candidate, but no mainstream politician will vote against it.

The contrasting view came from London where Eddie George, Governor of the Bank of England, said the single currency could be marked by "strong tensions" if member countries did not make enough progress in structural reforms of their economies.

"I don't think we are talking about a situation that will cause the whole thing to blow up," he said. But he added that the pace of reform in jobs and goods markets had been very slow. "The consequences will be various forms of tension."

Mr George paid tribute to the efforts would-be members had made to meet the Maastricht criteria. But, questioned by MPs about the recent report on convergence from the European Monetary Institute, he said: "The report says there is going to have to be a lot more effort," adding: "The problems increase with the number of countries that take part."

He said the UK was not unusually sensitive to interest rate changes, one obstacle to British membership suggested by some Euro-sceptics. But he stressed the need for a stable pound, although not necessarily ERM membership, for two years before joining.

His comments came as a report showed sterling's growing reputation as a "safe haven" currency has led to a marked increase in sterling issuance volume. According to the International Securities Market Association (ISMA), which yesterday published its annual report, sterling borrowings totalled $67bn (pounds 40bn) in 1997, a year-on-year increase of more than 30 per cent.

Outlook, page 25

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Retirement Coordinator - Financial Services

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...

Recruitment Genius: Annuities / Pensions Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...

Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Officer - Altrincham - up to £24,000.

£18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss