Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Germany's Kohl Tries to Save Europe Unity Germany's Chancellor Is Prominent in Efforts toward Increased European Unity. WOLFGANG RATTAY/REUTERS

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Germany's Kohl Tries to Save Europe Unity Germany's Chancellor Is Prominent in Efforts toward Increased European Unity. WOLFGANG RATTAY/REUTERS

Article excerpt

Call it the paradox of the reluctant giant. Germany, led by Chancellor Helmut Kohl, is throwing its considerable weight around to ensure that the European Union's future, and especially the launch of a common currency, comes out in accord with German wishes.

Why? Because, mindful of history, German leaders don't want Germany to dominate Europe for the third time this century - certainly not by force.

The paradox of a nation trying to save others from itself lies in the desire of most German politicians that certain interests of European nations must be contained within a larger unity. No one country dominates, all cooperate. This often puts Germany at odds with other European partners who tend to put their own interests first. Now, in a dispute with newly elected French Socialists over the proposed euro currency, Germany appears to be coming out ahead. A summit tomorrow with France's new prime minister may again test Germany's leadership in Europe. To ensure that the euro remains as inflation-resistant as possible once it is launched, the Kohl government got the other 14 EU member countries to accept a stringent "stability pact" in Dublin last December. Part of the pact includes a provision for imposing fines on countries that let their fiscal discipline relax once the currency is launched (Jan. 1, 1999, according to the official plan). The pact was to be finally approved at the EU's Amsterdam summit June 16 and 17. But on Monday, Lionel Jospin, the new French Socialist prime minister, called for a timeout. Elected on the strength of promises to put job creation and economic growth ahead of inflation-fighting, he asked for time to review the pact, indicating that France would not be in a position to approve it in Amsterdam. "Euro delay!" was the message flashed around Europe. But after immense pressure not only from Mr. Kohl, but from Dutch premier Wim Kok and three other heads of government, as well as French President Jacques Chirac, Mr. Jospin has come round, allowing that the stability pact could be approved in Amsterdam after all. And in return, Kohl, who has stood virtually alone in insisting that unemployment is a national, not EU, policy responsibility, has acknowledged that some kind of EU jobs program could be acceptable, as long as it required no additional funding. After all, German unemployment has been at record highs for much of the past year and a half, and the long-term trend appears to be heading upward. Mini-summit Kohl and Jospin will meet for the first time in Poitiers, France, tomorrow, along with Mr. Chirac, in one of the regular Franco-German summits held to ensure bilateral harmony before meetings of all 15 EU members. Kohl will arrive in Poitiers politically weakened by events at home over the last few weeks, notably the debacle over revaluing gold reserves and the continuing budget strife. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.