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Western Press Review: EU Amsterdam Summit Yields Compromises

Prague, 17 June 1997 (RFE/RL) - The EU summit in Amsterdam, seen against the background of Franco-German differences, gives cause for editorial comment and commentary in the US and European press.

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Demands straight out of Europe's socialist past

A commentary by George Mellon in today's Wall Street Journal Europe says "the newly anointed French Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, has presented the summit with demands straight out of Europe's socialist past, ideas that most modern European finance ministers had thought long ago discredited. They are based on the theory, popular in the inflationary 1970's, that prosperity can be bought by cheapening the currency."

Mellon concludes, "quite possibly, Mr. Jospin will not be able to wreck either France or the European Union. But the shock that he and his ideas sent through the EU establishment has raised the thought that maybe this new Europe that so many have labored for 50 years to create is more fragile than we once thought."

In another commentary in the Wall Street Journal Europe, Frank Vibert writes "It is the fact that the Amsterdam Treaty generally points away from the cures to Europe's economic problems that is its greatest condemnation."

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Job action on a par with budget deficit limits

John-Thor Dahlburg writing from Amsterdam in the Los Angeles Times says yesterday's compromise by European Union leaders, who pledged to do more to create jobs for their 18 million unemployed, thus defusing a sudden crisis between France and Germany, "reaffirms the stability pact but places action for jobs and growth on a par with stringent limits on budget deficits and public spending."

WASHINGTON POST: A dose of rhetoric and a dash of new programs

Anne Swardson writing from Amsterdam for The Washington Post says European leaders saved their endangered single-currency project yesterday "with a dose of rhetoric and a dash of new programs, averting a dispute between Germany and France that had been the biggest threat yet to the inauguration of the money on Jan. 1, 1999."

She comments "facing the nations of Western Europe is a choice of fudging, delaying or changing the requirements. But any of those would upset the financial markets, which in recent months have been banking on a successful euro, even if it is weaker than the Germans have in mind."

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Germany and France still divided

Gregory Katz writing from Amsterdam for The Dallas Morning News notes "the Amsterdam summit was initially conceived as a Valentine to Continental unity that would ratify a new European Union treaty and set procedures for adding Eastern European countries to the union. But ambitious plans for further integration as laid out in the Maastricht Treaty signed five years ago were overshadowed by the growing row between Germany and France, whose strong alliance in recent years has served as the prime engine of European union."

He goes on to say "despite the resolution of the immediate crisis Monday, Germany and France remain deeply divided over whether more austerity budgets - or more government spending for job creation - are required in the remaining 18 months before monetary union is to take effect.


On this side of the Atlantic, a commentary in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung says the Amsterdam summit "is no cause for celebration." The paper says "the solution is in the style of so many Brussels compromises -- it is too thin to have any substance... It helps the French n-o-t to lose face at home. But it does not obligate them or their partners. Moreover, the fundamental dissension between the Germans and the French over the central role of the stability policy continues unabated. For Kohl and Waigel, stability is also a precondition for better results in employment. On the contrary, France keeps dreaming of outlay programs financed by credits and a counterweight to the European central bank, unpopular because it was inspired by German thinking."

SUEDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG: Last minute unity, but conflicts remain

An editorial in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung says "the EU finance ministers in Amsterdam achieved unity on the stability pact at the last minute". But the editorial notes "the fundamental conflicts between the French and German economic and finance policies have certainly n-o-t been shoved away."

The Munich daily says "the French government demands greater political influence over European monetary and currency policy. Paris is placing the model of an independent European central bank in question. But only an independent central bank modeled after the German Bundesbank can ensure the long-term stability of the Euro."

LE MONDE: Policy of change in the 'euro' zone

Philippe Lemaitre writing from Amsterdam in Le Monde comments "the European Commission and the Council of Europe economic and finance policies will reflect the policy of change in the Euro zone, as well as its external representation. The aim is to provide a consistency in reinforcing this coordination among the finance ministers of the Euro zone as France wishes."

DIE PRESSE: Common currency comes closer

Andreas Unterberger writing in Vienna's Die Presse says "the common currency has again come two steps closer in Amsterdam, completely overshadowed by the discussion on employment."