This German initiative met with little positive feedback at the Strasbourg summit itself. Initially, some heads of state and government evidently focused more on the political concerns associated with German reunification. Helmut Kohl spoke about it later, saying he had “never experienced such an icy atmosphere at an EC summit,” and he felt he was being subjected to an “almost tribunal-like interrogation.”* His proposals for continued work on the economic and monetary union were in fact taken up at the end by President Mitterrand, but initially only in part. Although Mitterrand declared at the close of the session that “the necessary majority” (Mrs. Thatcher had not approved) had been achieved for convening the intergovernmental conference for talks on the treaty for economic and monetary union before the end of 1990, the decision on another intergovernmental conference on further institutional reform proposals, which the chancellor also proposed, was tabled for the moment. President Mitterrand evidently did not want to weigh down the treaty negotiations on economic and monetary union with the controversy on political union. He therefore spoke only of “prospects of a confederation, which still need to be determined.”**
After several bilateral talks between Kohl and Mitterrand, they presented a joint French-German proposal for a second intergovernmental conference during the summit on June 25-26, 1990; the proposal was then also accepted by the other participants. From a German perspective this at least formally guaranteed the so-called parallelism between talks on economic and monetary union and those on further political and institutional reform of the EC. In substantive terms, however, these parallels remained largely open. Also, the areas of competence within the governments for these parallel talks were distributed differently. Whereas the main responsibility for the economic and monetary portion lay with the finance ministers, it was the foreign ministers who were primarily responsible for the further development of political and institutional reforms. Despite manifold efforts, only limited progress was subsequently made in this area, as the results of the Amsterdam (1997) and Nice (2000) summits have shown. Unfortunately, the same is also true regarding the upcoming ratification of the so-called constitutional treaty.
* Helmut Kohl, Ich wollte Deutschlands Einheit. Berlin, 1996, p. 195.
** Hans Jürgen Küsters, “Nach dem Fall der Mauer,” in Die Politische Meinung. Monatsschrift zu Fragen der Zeit. January, 2003, p. 41.
Source: Hans Tietmeyer, Herausforderung Euro. Wie es zum Euro kam und was er für Deutschlands Zukunft bedeutet [The Euro Challenge: How the Euro Came about and What It Means for Germany’s Future]. Munich and Vienna, 2005, pp. 138-41.
Translation: Allison Brown