Chirac told he must act to save EU

President Jacques Chirac is risking the collapse of European monetary and political union by undermining the Franco-German alliance, Elisabeth Guigou, European Affairs minister in France's last Socialist government, said yesterday .

Since his election Mr Chirac has failed to answer any German calls for more political integration, thereby weakening German support for the single currency, said Mrs Guigou, now a senior Socialist member of the European Parliament.

Questions over whether Germany will stick to the Maastricht commitment to move towards a single currency by 1999 have been raised by the German finance minister, Theo Waigel, as well as Hans Tietmeyer, president of the Bundesbank.

Helmut Kohl, the German Chancellor, whose commitment to the idea of European union has never been in doubt, has always insisted that monetary union must go hand in hand with greater political union. This is the price Bonn demands for the risks of taking a strong German mark into a monetary union with weaker European economies.

Many commentators in Brussels fear that the new German warnings on monetary union are directly related to the growing reluctance in Paris to deliver on political union. A breakdown in the Franco-German understanding, which was so strong between Mr Kohl and the last French president, Francois Mitterrand, may be at the root of the current instability.

Giving strong voice to these fears yesterday, Mrs Guigou said Mr Chirac had played into the hands of the French far right and refused to make any of the difficult choices which face Europe in the run-up to next year's Inter-Governmental Conference (IGC) on EU reform. In particular, Mr Chirac has refused to state his view on giving more power to the European Parliament, or on the greater use of majority voting in the Council of Ministers - both goals which Mr Kohl wants to achieve.

Germany, Mrs Guigou said, is "making a huge sacrifice" by entering monetary union. "It wants to know what Europe can give it in return for this sacrifice. So far it has not been told," she said. The meeting of EU leaders in Majorca at the weekend had produced only a "facade of consensus", said the MEP.

For John Major, the British Prime Minister, the slow-down by European leaders at Majorca was welcome. But in Brussels it has sparked extreme anxiety. Mrs Guigou said that with the IGC fast approaching, it was essential to do more than "paper over the cracks".

"Chirac has a horror of choosing. He must choose. What I fear is that he will choose too late," said Mrs Guigou.

Commenting on the new fears that monetary union could be delayed, Mrs Guigou said: "If it does not happen in 1999, there is little chance that it will happen at all. If that happens there will be no political union and Europe will become little more than a free-exchange zone."

Few diplomats or European Commission officials in Brussels believe it is possible for the political leaders to take formal action to delay the process towards monetary union, or to alter the criteria for joining as set down in the Maastricht treaty. A delay would necessitate a further inter-governmental conference, the result of which would have to be ratified by national parliaments. That would open up new and even more divisive debate. Such a public reversal of European policy would be devastating to the credibility of the entire union.

Mrs Guigou said yesterday that the onus now firmly lies with Mr Chirac to re-set France's course before the Madrid summit in December.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
News
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Sport
Robbie Savage will not face a driving ban
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Voices
voices
Life and Style
Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries were putting themselves at risk of tinnitus and, in extreme cases, irreversible hearing loss
health Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries are at risk of tinnitus
News
It was only when he left his post Tony Blair's director of communications that Alastair Campbell has published books
people The most notorious spin doctor in UK politics has reinvented himself
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in ‘I Am Michael’
filmJustin Kelly's latest film tells the story of a man who 'healed' his homosexuality and turned to God
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
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

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

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