Much has changed since the Maastricht timetable was first agreed. Slower growth in Europe and a change in political leadership have strengthened the case for a "constructive postponement." David Marsh argues that the hazards of a premature launch far outweigh the risks of delaying Emuby David Marsh / April 20, 1997 / Leave a comment
Economic and monetary union is ostensibly an economic project. In reality, it is a political venture with strong overtones of European psychodrama. It combines the elegance and high intentions of Moli?re with the epic nature of Goethe’s Faust and the mystery of Agatha Christie. One of the main elements of suspense stems from the economic and political changes we have seen in Europe since the Maastricht treaty was agreed in 1991. Because of these changes, Emu is unlikely to be accomplished according to the Maastricht timetable.
Motivations behind Emu, too, have changed. The EC’s latest effort to forge monetary union was founded in the mid-1980s on the desire to complete the single market. Then came the fall of the Berlin wall and German reunification, and the primary motivation switched to the aim of controlling and constraining renascent Germany in an enlarged and strengthened European framework. Plus d’Allemagne made it necessary to construct plus d’Europe.
More recently, the motivation has shifted once again. Emu is being used as a means of putting pressure on European governments to carry out economic and budgetary reforms which, but for their incompetence, impotence or foolhardiness, they should have carried out anyway. The difficulty is that the EU has neither the power nor the legitimacy to shoulder the burden of driving forward such reforms. Europe risks being blamed unjustifiably for unpopular measures for which governments should bear the responsibility.
the tandem of Germany and France has been of vital importance in promoting Emu. As a British European, I support the Franco-German relationship that has developed since the war. Yet these ties have a neurotic aspect that cannot be ignored.
Emu can be regarded as a late 20th century Arc de Triomphe constructed to celebrate the ending of the cold war. France saw and sees Emu as the means to reproduce on a European scale the power and influence it knew it would lose, as a result of German unity, on a national level. Accordingly, France has been seeking to dismantle, stone by stone, the edifice of the Bundesbank and build a new structure in the shape of the European central bank (ECB).
A larger Germany, meanwhile, ostensibly sought not to gain power but to give it up, in the interest of European harmony and co-operation with its neighbours. Monetary union, through the dissolution of the Bundesbank and the replacement of the D-mark by a supranational…