French and Germans oppose single currency

John Rentoul@JohnRentoul
Tuesday 18 June 1996 23:02

The people of Germany, France and Britain are all opposed to a single European currency - in Britain's case by a huge 4 to 1 majority - if they are asked a question about the "hard" practicalities rather than the broad principle, according to a Harris poll for the Independent.

Of British voters, 78 per cent agreed that "Britain should keep the pound", while only 18 per cent thought the pound should be replaced by the euro.

This is the highest figure recorded for opposition to the single currency, because Harris specified in its question that "key decisions on interest rates and monetary policy" would be taken either by a European Central Bank or the British government. The findings suggest the whole of Europe could be moving in a Euro-sceptic direction. Germans oppose a single currency by 70 to 29 per cent, and the normally pro-single-currency French are opposed by 55 to 43 per cent when the question is posed in these terms. Even the ultra-European Belgians are opposed by 50 to 40 per cent.

The poll comes as an all-party House of Lords committee warns of the dangers of Britain being left out of a single currency if Germany and France go ahead. The report of its six-month inquiry, published today, says "it may be difficult to resist" pressures for informal trade discrimination against countries which do not join.

The Independent's poll also confirms that German public opinion is the real obstacle to a settlement of the dispute over British beef exports. Sixty seven per cent believe their government rather than the EU should decide when it is safe for UK beef to be sold in Germany.

Opinion in France and Belgium is less hostile, with 51 per cent and 48 per cent prepared to leave the decision to the EU.

t Harris interviewed 516 people in Belgium, 1,032 in France, 910 in Germany and 1,025 in Great Britain this month.

Poll details, page 6

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