Giscard urges change to EMU

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The former French president, Valery Giscard d'Estaing, yesterday called for a change in the EMU rules to allow Spain and Italy to join the starting line-up of the European single currency.

Mr Giscard d'Estaing said the two southern countries; should be allowed to sign up for the single currency with other countries early next year even if their economies fail to meet the guidelines laid out in the Maastricht treaty. They would then be allowed to peg the lire and the peseta to the euro from the target date of January 1999 if their economies meet the entry conditions by that time.

In an interview with the International Herald Tribune, the former French President said it would be unhealthy for the EU if only northern European countries joined the Euro in the first wave.