Amsterdam, 16 June 1997 (RFE/RL) -- European Union (EU) finance ministers today reached agreement on the terms of a troubled Stability Pact, clearing the way for the adoption of a single EU currency by 1999.
The deal was concluded at the two-day EU summit which began today in Amsterdam.
Dutch Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm told reporters the EU's 15 member states had "reached complete agreement" on the Stability Pact and a separate resolution for growth and employment.
Until today, Germany and France had disagreed sharply over the Pact, which fines EU states that join the new single currency but later fail to stay within tight limits on their budget deficits. The deficit limits are intended to guarantee the new common currency, the 'euro', is stable.
Germany insisted that the EU maintain the strict Stability Pact, which all the EU states agreed to earlier this year and which is up for ratification at this week's summit. But France's newly-elected Socialist Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, had argued that the budgetary constraints needed to launch the euro must not further worsen the EU's high (11.4 percent) unemployment rate. Jospin had called on the EU to balance the Pact with more attention to growth and job creation.
Correspondents say that French concerns were apparently met when EU officials agreed today to hold a special jobs summit later this autumn.
The Amsterdam summit is also expected to concern itself with internal institutional reforms aimed at clearing the path for membership talks with 10 candidate countries in central and eastern Europe. The reforms have been the subject of 16 months of discussion by the EU Intergovernmental Conference (IGC), which is tasked with defining how the EU's institutions can be expanded to take in new members.
The ten Central and Eastern European countries in line for membership talks are Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Romania and Bulgaria.