UK was right not to join flawed euro,
admits Jacques Delors
Times - 17 Jan 2004
By Charles Bremner in Paris and Greg Hurst
Jacques Delors, the former President of the European
Commission, fuelled the controversy over the euro yesterday
by admitting that Britain was justified in opting out
of the single currency because its launch was flawed.
In a remarkably frank interview with The Times, the one-time
bogeyman of Eurosceptics also predicted that Britain would
stay out for years, not least because Gordon Brown was
so passionate about his contempt for Europe.
In another startling admission, the veteran French leftwinger
said that the European Union was in a state of latent
crisis because of weak leadership. He blamed member
state leaders, including President Chirac of France, for
putting national interests before the common good.
M Delors, 78, also spoke with unexpected admiration of
Baroness Thatcher, his old nemesis. He said that she was
a figure who counts in British and European
history, and the way her Conservative colleagues dumped
her was an example of the atrocious manner
in which male politicians treat female colleagues.
But his most surprising comments were on the euro. He
lamented that EU leaders had failed to heed his warning
that monetary union must be matched with close co-ordination
of economic policies, and argued that the euro was consequently
less attractive than it could have been.
Since we have not succeeded in maximising the economic
advantages of the euro, one can understand the British
. . . saying, Things are just fine as they are.
Staying out of the euro hasnt stopped us prospering,
Denis MacShane, the Minister for Europe, said M Delors
comments, vindicated the Governments sensible
decision . . . to make economic conditions rather than
ideology the central issue as far as the euro is concerned.
But Michael Ancram, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, said:
This is an extraordinary admission by M Delors.
If a champion of European integration says that the euro
hasnt worked, it shows how right Britain has been
to stay out, doubly so if a more harmonised economic policy
is proposed as the way forward.
M Delors led the Commission for ten years, pushing through
both the single market and the 1991 Maastricht treaty
on monetary union, and has just published his memoirs.
He spoke warmly of Britain, though he called its aversion
to Europe a great mystery of history. But
he was sharply critical of his own country. He deplored
the opposition in France to the EUs imminent enlargement
and President Chiracs attempts to lay down the law
to the former Soviet bloc states because of their pro-American