THE GREAT EMU DEBATE The continent warms to the idea
Tonight Kenneth Clarke spells out the Government's criteria for a singl e European currency
Thursday 09 February 1995
Economic prospects are improving. This matters because Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) was designed to ensure only healthy economies could join the single currency. They must meet - or come close to - a series of economic criteria. In 1996, a majority of states must meet them if they are to go ahead.
Politically, interest has also revived. France, which currently holds the presidency of the EU, has repeatedly stressed that it wants to go ahead in 1996. Germany is more reluctant. The country fears that its strong currency risks being given up for a weaker one, the Ecu. Bonn would probably rather wait until later in the decade.
There are three main categories of countries. First, there are the ready, willing and able. That is a pretty small constituency at the moment, including only Luxembourg and Ireland.
Germany will meet the criteria when the time comes - union cannot happen without it. Austria will follow. France will make the grade, and is keen. The Dutch government is committed to membership - it alone kept a tight link to the Deutschmark in 1993. Its economy will be in shape for 1997, though the population is increasingly sceptical.
There is a second camp of eager but unable. Belgium's massive government debt will, however, probably be overlooked for political reasons. Finland could also squeeze in. Italy may not be so lucky, and the government in Rome is terrified it will be put inthe slow lane. Spain is also unlikely to be ready in 1997, and it is similarly concerned, as is Portugal. Greece stands no chance.
Then there are the doubters. Pre-eminent amongst them,of course, is Britain, which has a water-tight right to decide later whether it will join. Denmark, however, shares Britain's suspicions and has an opt-out. Sweden also has its doubts. Even France mayneed a referendum.
Britain would have the support of some slow-lane candidates in pressing for a decision to be put off. It would also have their support - and, ironically, that of many socialists - in pressing for unemployment to be considered, too.
But France will resist this strongly - it wants a decision, and soon. Germany will object to anything that seems to ease the economic criteria. But the real acid test will be whether German Chancellor Helmut Kohl is willing to undertake the massive exercise in public relations required to persuade his citizens that monetary union should take place.
- 2 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 3 US? China? India? The 10 biggest economies in 2030 will be...
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
General Election 2015: David Cameron catching up in polls – but he badly needs a clear lead
Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
South Africa xenophobic attacks: Shops looted and violence on streets of Johannesburg as foreigners are forced to hide in police stations
18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...
£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...