Amsterdam summit: Europe's new order takes shape
Germany and France settle row over jobs
Tuesday 17 June 1997
During the hard bargaining which produced the agreement at yesterday's Amsterdam summit, it was France, which had demanded new spending to spur growth, which gave ground, while Germany refused to dilute fiscal austerity measures.
The deal, based on a new resolution on jobs and growth, demonstrates that Europe's leaders now recognise the importance of job creation. At the weekend 30,000 unemployed protesters brought their demands to the streets of Amsterdam. The deal also allows European Union leaders to sign the crucial framework of rules for running monetary union known as the stability pact, thereby claiming that the euro is once again back on track.
Yesterday's moves are to be followed up by a special "summit for jobs" in October. This will help leaders argue that unity of purpose has been restored. Britain is committed to putting job creation at the top of its agenda when it takes over the EU presidency in January.
Tony Blair, who backed Helmut Kohl, the German Chancellor, during the jobs debate, argued that the agreed resolution reflected several British priorities on job creation, by emphasising the general objective of achieving flexible job markets and "employability".
However, the new jobs and growth resolution, though strong on promises to share experiences and look at good practices, offers little in the way of concrete new ideas to tackle the unemployment crisis.
The European Investment Bank, Europe's long-term investment house, has been invited to use its role more effectively by lending to small businesses, as well as EU projects in areas of education, health care, the environment and transport networks. However, the resolution contains no suggestion that new money can be used to promote investment, as France had hoped.
Lionel Jospin, the French Prime Minister, wanted a new political body to be formed which would set economic priorities, as a counter-weight to the monetary policies pursued by the European Central Bank.
The final deal reaffirms that the EU must be committed to economic as well as monetary priorities, but falls short of signalling creation of an economic government to enforce those commitments. In the weeks and months ahead it remains doubtful whether Mr Jospin will be able to sell the agreement to the French people.
Despite the declarations of new will to proceed towards the January 1999 deadline for Economic and Monetary Union, it also remains doubtful whether the agreement will prove to be anything but a temporary fig leaf used to hide the rift which has opened up between France and Germany over euro zone priorities.
The jobs row erupted after Mr Jospin's election and swiftly escalated into the most serious conflict yet to hit planning for the single currency. Mr Jospin was elected on a pledge to create 700,000 jobs in France and to re-balance Europe's single currency rules in order to promote greater emphasis on a "social Europe" and growth.
However, the French objectives set him on a collision course with Mr Kohl, who was determined to resist any moves which would involve more public spending to promote growth, or which might weaken the euro's economic criteria or stability pact.
- 3 Reading Festival 2014: Tesco branch replaces salad and potatoes for Jagermesiter and vodka
Michael Brown shooting: Amnesty International sends team within US for first time as National Guard deployed
Michael Brown shooting: Ferguson police shoot and kill second young black man
James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – and warns Obama of more to come
Iraq crisis: Islamic State's message to America - 'We will drown you all in blood'
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Russell Brand calls for Israel boycott: Comedian urges big businesses that 'facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza' to pull funding
Ukip MEP calls for reintroduction of death penalty on fiftieth anniversary of last deaths
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
£50000 - £60000 Per Annum + excellent company benefits: Clearwater People Solu...
£65000 - £70000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...
£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy En...
£475 - £550 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Technical Accountant-Insuran...