Europe 'needs Maastricht to fend off past'

CHANCELLOR Helmut Kohl issued a grim warning yesterday about the dangers of the spectres of the past returning to haunt Europe, should Germany and its partners turn their backs on the Maastricht treaty.

On the second day of the Christian Democratic Party's congress in Dusseldorf, the Chancellor sought to sweep aside growing worries about European integration with a passionate defence of his ideals. 'I doubt that the evil spirits of the past, under which we in Europe have already suffered more than enough this century, have been banished for ever,' said Mr Kohl.

Nobody should believe, he said, that the ghosts of nationalism in Europe are dead, or that they only exist in the Balkans. 'Already in the east we see the resurgence of nationalism, intolerance and chauvinism. But even the west is not safe from such temptations,' he said. The only answer was to push on forcefully with European integration, which, far from being rendered obsolete by the historic changes in Eastern Europe, was in fact a timely and necessary response to them. In a clear reference to Baroness Thatcher, Mr Kohl said: 'One woman believed that a simple trade area was enough. She wronged herself and her country.'

In recognition of the powerful concerns in Germany about losing the deutschmark and gaining a common European currency, the Chancellor added, in an aside to his written text, that: 'Of course the parliament must discuss currency union before Germany went on to the final phase.' His careful choice of words did nothing, however, to dispel the considerable confusion surrounding the important issue of whether the German parliament has given itself a veto over economic and monetary union.

The Chancellor is said by senior officials to be 'very unhappy' about ministerial assurances during the first reading of the Maastricht treaty earlier this month, that the Bundestag would debate monetary union again in 1996. The Finance Minister, Theo Waigel, said then that parliament would be able to 're-examine' the issue, but strengthened this commitment by pledging that a government would not go against the wishes of parliament. This has been widely interpreted as having given the Bundestag a veto over whether Germany moves forward to a single currency.

Chancellery officials argue that Mr Kohl is adamant that this is not the case. Once ratified, the Maastricht commitments are legally binding, they say. If in 1996 Germany fulfills the conditions for monetary union, then it must go forward to the final stage, the officials say. 'The very strength of the commitment is that it is automatic, an irreversible process. Mr Kohl does not trust his successors,' said one aide.

However, although the legal position appears clear, government officials concede that 'political complications' would arise if parliament should vote in 1996 against going on to currency union. 'What the government would do then is hard to predict,' said one official, adding that 'this could in some circumstances amount to a de facto veto'. Clearly worried about creating problems before the Maastricht ratification process in Bonn is complete, Chancellor Kohl yesterday took refuge in ambiguity.

News
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
fashion David Beckham fronts adverts for his underwear collection
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
i100Most young people can't
Extras
indybest
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Service Delivery Manager - ITIL / ServiceNow / Derivatives

£60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading Financial Services orga...

Senior Quantitative Developer

£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Developer C++, Python, STL, R, PD...

CCNP Network Engineer - Farnborough, £250 pd

£250 per day: Orgtel: Network Engineer (CCNP), Cisco Gold Partner, Farnborough...

Technical Consultant Configuration, SQL, SQL Server

£55000 - £65000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: Technical Cons...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home