‘Secret German files reveal grave misgivings over Italy’s entry to euro’
THE German government has been forced to hand over hitherto secret documents that expose the misgivings of officials about Italy joining the euro currency.
Tabloid magazine Der Spiegel made a successful request to the German government for the release of its euro files from the period 1994 to 1998. They show clearly that Italy, now one of the floundering, southern European euro states – should not have been allowed to join.
Aides warned then conservative chancellor Helmut Kohl that measures taken by Italy to bring it in line with the criteria for joining the currency were merely “window dressing.”
On 3 February, 1997, the German finance ministry noted that in Rome “important structural cost-saving measures were almost completely omitted, out of consideration for the social consensus”.
On 22 April, speaker’s notes for Mr Kohl stated that there was “almost no chance” that “Italy will fulfil the criteria”.
Horst Koehler, who later became German president but at the time was the German chief negotiator in the Maastricht Treaty negotiations, concluded that Italy had not fulfilled the conditions “for permanent and sustainable deficit and debt reduction,” and that it posed “a special risk” to the euro. But Mr Kohl overrode him.
In 1998, the decisive year for the introduction of the euro, this assessment had not changed. Before meeting an Italian government delegation on 22 January, state secretary Jürgen Stark noted that the “longevity of solid public finances” was “not yet guaranteed”.
“The documents that have now been released suggest the Kohl administration misled both the public and Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court,” the tabloid claimed.
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