Letter: The French straitjacket

MARY DEJEVSKY is only half-right to blame the public service strikes in France on Chirac and the right-wing government of Alain Juppe ("France drifts into winter of discontent", 3 December). Discontent has been brewing for a number of years because of the seeming inability to control rising unemployment.

The truth is that any government committed to a single currency is also committing itself to long-term high unemployment and a declining quality of public services. While generally on course to meet the Bundesbank's "convergence criteria", France needs to continue to cut its budget deficit. It is doing this by attacking the welfare state. Perhaps France's situation will serve to warn other governments of the economic - and political - costs of forcing their economies into the narrow strictures of the EMU convergence criteria.

Simon Kyte

Shoeburyness, Essex