Euro starts to score better marks with the Germans

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German angst over the impending abolition of the Deutschmark is dissipating, according to polls published yesterday by Focus magazine. For the first time, one survey shows those supporting European monetary union outnumber the euro's opponents.

Euro-sceptics across the EU have drawn hope in the past from Germans' apparent resistance to doing away with their most potent national symbol. The German parliament has the right to veto membership of Emu. But German voters have always been ambivalent. Whilst many have objected to the euro, most have always expressed a conviction that monetary union will take place, regardless of their views. Attempts by the opposition Social Democrats to appeal to "Deutschmark nationalism" have failed.

The latest polls show that euro-fatalism is slowly turning into support. According to a survey of 3,500 people, conducted by the conservative Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (Foundation), the proportion of Emu opponents has shrunk in one year from 63 to 45 per cent. Almost 9 out of 10 were convinced monetary union would take place. "The breakthrough to acceptance has come," commented the think-tank's chairman, Gunter Rinsche.

Even more encouraging from the government's point of view is a survey carried out by the respected Allensbach Institute which found that 55 per cent were in favour of Emu, with 45 per cent against.

The key factor in the change of attitudes is the growing realisation that the common currency may not be inferior to the Deutschmark. Although no German believes the euro will be "harder" than the mark, the proportion who fear a much softer currency is declining.

Pollsters attribute this to a growing awareness that the new monetary order in Europe will still be governed from Frankfurt, very much on the terms of the disappearing Bundesbank. The establishment in the summer of the German-inspired "stability council" marks the turning point.

The pollsters are also discovering that some assumptions about the mark's enduring popularity have been a myth. While the older generation associates the post-war currency with economic success, younger Germans appear to have no hang-ups about swapping one type of coin for another.