The material on this site is for financial institutions, professional investors and their professional advisers. It is for information only. Please read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy and Cookies before using this site. Please see our Subscription Terms and Conditions.

All material subject to strictly enforced copyright laws. © 2022 Euromoney, a part of the Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC.

France: the failure of nationalism

by David Roche

It was before the wave of strikes that hit France in December that I glided into the Gare du Nord on one of France's ultra-smooth, ultra-expensive (to the taxpayer, not the traveller) TGVs. I had two questions begging answers. First, would the Franco-German axis in Europe hold? And second, would France meet the Maastricht criteria for a European single currency by the end of 1997?

As I sat in the TGV, I let my imagination run ahead to summer 1997. France is still short of closing its budget deficit at Maastricht levels. There is disorder in Paris and other major cities because unemployment is between 13% and 15%. President Chirac announces his fifth (predominantly tax-raising) emergency budget. He feels increasingly like a dog chasing its own tail and looks increasingly like one with its tail between its legs. The more he raises taxes, the weaker the economy gets and the more radical support grows for maintaining France's expensive social safety net. So the bigger the deficit grows.

Over in Germany, chancellor Kohl is approaching retirement. His last general election will be in 1998 and he wants to go down in history as the man who united Germany and then made it safe by uniting Europe too.

You have reached premium content. Please log in to continue reading.

Read beyond the headlines with Euromoney

For over 50 years, our readers have looked to Euromoney to stay informed about the issues that matter in the international banking and financial markets. Find out more about our different levels of access below.


Unlimited access to and

Expert comment, long reads and in-depth analysis interviews with senior finance professionals

Access the results of our market-leading annual surveys across core financial services

Access the results of our annual awards, including the world-renowned Awards for Excellence

Your print copy of Euromoney magazine delivered monthly

£73.75 per month

Billed Annually


Unlimited access to and, including our top stories, long reads, expert analysis, and the results of our annual surveys and awards

Sign up to any of our newsletters, curated by our editors


Already a user?

We use cookies to provide a personalized site experience.
By continuing to use & browse the site you agree to our Privacy Policy.
I agree