The art of persuasion has its limits. One often attributed to me a capacity in this field which I do not possess. Norman Montaigu apparently said about me “He’s not a banker, he’s a conjurer,” the latter term refers to an extremely clever man capable of magic. Certainly, he knew banking affairs better than myself and anyone else, but he did not understand the strength of simple ideas.
There are no premature ideas, there are timely moments for which one must know how to wait.
Jean Monnet, Mémoires
From early 1983 until mid-1990, two phases can be distinguished which describe the important developments in French, German and European diplomacy that culminated in the successful conclusion of the Maastricht negotiations. The initial phase, from 1983 to 1987, saw the consolidation of the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) of the European Monetary System, the launching of the single market process, the enlargement of the Community to include Spain and Portugal, and the negotiations which led to the Single European Act under the Luxembourg Presidency.1 The early years of the second phase, from 1987-1990, included the Brussels European Council on 11-12 February 1988, followed by the re-election of Mitterrand to the Elysée in May and the successive months of dramatic change on the Continent which took place under the French Presidency of the Council. After a brief overview of the major developments during these two phases, this chapter highlights the roles of four individuals who influenced events up until the Strasbourg European Council in December 1989. These persons were François Mitterrand, Helmut Kohl, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, and Jacques Delors.
1Michael Sutton, “France and the Maastricht Design,” The World Today (January 1993):4.