Amsterdam summit: Bonn banks on London's driving force

Germany's chancellor-in-waiting yesterday endorsed Britain's claim for a place at the top table of Europe, declaring that the beautiful relationship between Bonn and Paris was dead.

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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
news
News
people
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
books...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Sport
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
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 General

Recruitment Genius: Brand Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Do you wish to be part of an exciting journey ...

Guru Careers: Talent Manager

£30-35k (P/T - Pro Rata) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienc...

Recruitment Genius: Print / Warehouse Operative

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join ...

Beverley James: Accounts Assistant

£23,000: Beverley James: Are you looking to join a finance team shrouded in th...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower