LETTER:Excluded from the EU's axis

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From Mr Selwyn Hodson-Pressinger

Sir: As a Euro-manager working principally in France I was interested to read Mary Dejevsky's article ("Sitting pretty beneath his apple tree", 18 March) on Jacques Chirac's campaign for the French presidency.

However, in addition to what she has written one aspect needs special emphasis. Whether it is M Chirac or M Balladur who wins the election, the next French president will be committed to the European Union and especially the Franco-German working relationship.

Furthermore, Chancellor Kohl has clearly learnt from the important legacy of "Atlanticist" Ludwig Erhard's political crisis in the Sixties which resulted in the Grand Coalition under Chancellor Kiesinger (1966-69). The Franco-German "axis" has since been an important source of continental peace and stability, and it continues to shape the European Union. Sadly, the UK has never played any part in this axis, and its continued exclusion, whether self-imposed or not, must only perpetuate British Euro-scepticism and natural Atlanticist tendencies.

At the same time, it cannot be forgotten that Franco-German attitudes have, for strategic reasons, been ambivalent towards UK membership of the EU. The UK was not an important factor in their equation, so expanding their axis was never on the agenda. It is surely in Britain's best interests to have this dichotomy resolved. Only then can we look with confidence to a future within Europe.

Yours faithfully,




18 March