In Brussels, Jacques Delors said Germany's action proved the EC understood there was strength in unity. With French voters in mind, he warned: 'Such unity is fragile; let's not break it up.'
The President of the EC Commission invoked his own experience when, as French finance minister, he presided over a devaluation of the franc. That the strategy led to economic recovery was a victory for France's civic spirit. 'I took my hat off to it in 1983, I hope I can do it again on Monday,' he said.
Nerves are on edge as Sunday's French referendum approaches. Though the last public opinion polls have shown a slim majority for the treaty, private polls by embassies and the French police are thought to show the 'no' vote in the ascendant. Consequently, every event is being given a spin, to show that European integration can be beneficial.
The French Prime Minister, Pierre Beregovoy, called the German decision a great success for Europe, and sought to turn the move into a campaigning point. 'They have put the interests of Europe ahead of their own interests,' he said in a radio interview. 'The spirit of Maastricht has prevailed over purely national interests.' He said France would cut interest rates, but not yet. 'It will follow more easily after Sunday.'
Helmut Kohl, the German Chancellor, emphasised his support. 'The European Community, monetary union and after 1 January (1993) the single market can only be permanent and beneficial if we succeed in securing a political union as the crowning of this development,' he said.
The rate cut proved the Community to be 'a body where unwritten rules are applied by everybody,' Mr Delors said. 'Everyone is prepared to abandon territorial interest to look further ahead because member states tend to develop a bad conscience if they defend national concerns against the common will for too long.'
He said the recent strains in the European Monetary System served to underline how badly the EC needs economic union: 'The EC economy has not yet reached a level of dynamism and confidence such that it can take over from the US. Greater integration will let the EC play the role people expect of it; we must press ahead.'
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