Amsterdam summit: Bonn banks on London's driving force
Tuesday 17 June 1997
Gerhard Schroder, the opposition politician expected to challenge Helmut Kohl in next year's elections, said: "The days when the French President and the German Chancellor could decide everything that went on [in Europe] are over.
"The Franco-German axis must be transformed into a triangle involving London."
Mr Schroder, a Social Democrat very much in the Blairite mould, said he expected Britain to be the driving force behind a "renaissance" of European politics. In an interview with the financial daily Handelsblatt, he welcomed Britain's renewed interest in Europe, and aligned himself with London's prescription for tackling mass unemployment.
On this, as on many other issues, Mr Schroder is closer to the views of the German government than to his own party, which even yesterday was urging a vast Europe-wide spending programme to fight joblessness. "I have difficulties with the idea," said Mr Schroder, "that we here in Germany can implement a publicly funded job-creation programme, the way Jospin is planning to do it in France."
But while differences persist over job creation, even the left wing of Mr Schroder's party has realised the proposed EU-wide job creation schemes would have to be financed by Germany. And whatever their sentiments on the euro, all German parties have been horrified by what they see as French attempts to undermine the stability of the common currency.
Mr Schroder's suggestion that the marriage of convenience between France and Germany should give way to a menage a trois is certain to be well received in Bonn. Though German ministers have refrained from commenting on recent goings-on in Paris, the frown on Mr Kohl's face as he met French colleagues last week spoke for itself.
For the past years, the two countries had worked hard cobbling together a common draft for the revised Maastricht Treaty. For France to have threatened to veto that now amounted to a stab in the back.
Getting London involved would free Germany from the shackles of its untrustworthy friend, but it would have to be handled with sensitivity. Italy has already complained that there are not three but four big players in Europe.
Some deal will have to be found, partly because Germany dreads being left alone, but mainly because London's and Bonn's interests overlap. As recent event have shown, they already have much in common. After Amsterdam, the focus of reform will shift to the decision-making process, where both Britain and Germany want to have a greater say in community affairs to the detriment of countries with smaller populations.
- 1 Isis burns thousands of books and rare manuscripts from Mosul's libraries
- 2 Scarlett Johansson new band 'already hit with legal complaint' from another The Singles
- 3 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 5 'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Isis burns thousands of books and rare manuscripts from Mosul's libraries
Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
Mohammed Emwazi: Nine things we know about Isis militant 'Jihadi John'
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
'Jihadi John': Mohammed Emwazi – from British computer programmer to Isis executioner
Oscars 2015: Birdman beats Boyhood as Eddie Redmayne and Patricia Arquette win big - as it happened
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Do you wish to be part of an exciting journey ...
£30-35k (P/T - Pro Rata) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienc...
£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join ...
£23,000: Beverley James: Are you looking to join a finance team shrouded in th...