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Monday, 5 June, 2000, 14:20 GMT 15:20 UK
Euro-zone tensions rise
Tensions rise again between European Union countries
By Jonathan Charles in Luxembourg

France and Germany have called on the countries which belong to the single currency to co-operate more closely when deciding European economic policy.

Any increased co-ordination could marginalise Britain and the other EU members which have not joined the euro.

The Chancellor, Gordon Brown, will oppose the idea at the meeting of EU finance ministers in Luxembourg on Monday.

France and Germany believe that eighteen months after the launch of the euro it is time for change.

Euroland

They want all members of the single currency to co-operate more closely on the running of the European economy, a move which would be a deepening of the European integration process.

The French and Germans are understood to have pressed their initiative at a private dinner late last night in Luxembourg for finance ministers from the 11 countries which belong to the euro.

They think that such co-ordination would help convince the financial markets that governments are prepared to do whatever is necessary to make the single currency strong after months of weakness.

The idea could lead to the marginalisation of EU members like Britain which do not belong to the single currency. They could find themselves having to accept decisions made by the majority which are part of the euro.

Although Chancellor Brown is likely to oppose the idea, France and Germany are unlikely to be deterred.

However, full details of the plan will not emerge until France takes over the European Presidency on 1 July.

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See also:

04 Jun 00 | Business
Euro tax row looms
01 Jun 00 | Business
Meeting the criteria
30 May 00 | Europe
Germany backs boost for euro
07 May 00 | Business
Euro watch
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The UK's euro dilemma
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