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The idea, sometimes bruited by the Commission and other federalists, of a Group of Three - the EU, the USA and Japan - to replace the existing Group of Seven leading economic powers as the principal forum for global financial discussions.

G-7 and G-8

See Group of Seven.

Gaitskell, Hugh (1906-63)

Hugh Gaitskell became leader of the Labour Party in 1955, but died suddenly in 1963, opening the way for Harold Wilson to win the 1964 general election. Gaitskell's speech to the party conference in 1962 remains a seminal text on Europe. After giving a balanced account of the pros and cons of the UK joining the EEC, including the cost of abandoning Commonwealth preference, he turned in famous words to federalism: 'We would be foolish to deny ... the desire of those who created the Economic Community for political federation.' Likening the UK's destination within the EEC to 'no more than a state in the United States of Europe, such as Texas and California', he said that federation would mean 'the end of the UK as an independent European state'.

Gaitskell went on to criticise Harold Macmillan's duplicity in enthusing about political union in Brussels while denying it in the House of Commons, and entered a passionate plea for the UK not to dishonour its pledges to safeguard Commonwealth trade. His premature death deprived the country of a potential prime minister who might have altered the course of the UK's relationship with Continental Europe.

GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade)

The GATT was established with 23 signatories in 1948, as an adjunct of the UN, for the regulation of international trade. Technically an agreement rather than a chartered body, the GATT evolved a life of its own, with a secretariat in Geneva and a list of members that by 1995, the last year of its existence, had grown to 128 and accounted for some 90% of world trade. From the outset it was dedicated to the elimination of discrimination and the reduction of barriers to trade, and perhaps more than any other institution it was responsible for the almost uninterrupted growth in prosperity among developed countries since World War II. At the end of the 8th, last and longest (8-year) round of negotiations in 1994 (the 'Uruguay Round') average duties on manufactured goods, which had been over 40% in the late 1940s, were scheduled to fall to 3% by 2002.

The GATT rules cover all aspects of trade, including dumping, dispute resolution, retaliation, rules of origin, intellectual property rights and the administration of certain specially permitted discriminatory agreements in such areas as textiles and agriculture. As a regional trading arrangement the EC is excepted from the 'most favoured nation' requirement, which bars the participating states from singling out others for preferential treatment.

Both the EC and the USA tend to claim credit for the success of the GATT, hinting that the other party is more protectionist than it admits: and in the 1960s - and again in the 1980s - concern over a 'Fortress Europe' undoubtedly spurred US support for the general liberalisation of trade. But in reality both blocs are entitled to share the kudos for making a clean break with the cartels and high tariff walls that made the inter-war years such an economic catastrophe.

For a fuller account, see World Trade Organisation, the body that superseded the GATT in 1995.

Genscher, Hans-Dietrich (1927-)

Born in East Germany and a life-long adherent of détente, Ostpolitik and European integration, Genscher was German foreign minister from 1974 to 1992. The 1981 'Genscher-Colombo Plan', of which the co-author was the Italian foreign minister Emilio Colombo, proposed an extension of the EC's powers into new areas, including foreign policy, defence and justice, together with a revival of the role of majority voting, which had lapsed under Charles de Gaulle. The Plan was reflected in the Stuttgart Declaration of 1983 and led indirectly to the Single European Act of 1986. Elements of it also featured in the Maastricht Treaty of 1992.

The more European our foreign policy is, the more national it is. Hans-Dietrich Genscher, German foreign minister, Vienna 1989

Genscher was among the first to support the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and consistently advocated Western aid to the USSR. In 1991 he was considered to have been responsible for Germany's recognition of Croatia's independence from Yugoslavia, a policy applauded by some but held by others to have provoked the ensuing war with Serbia.

Genscher-Colombo Plan

See Genscher.


After the country's defeat in World War II, Germany was partitioned into four occupied zones - US, British, French and Soviet. Berlin, itself divided into the same four zones, lay in the Soviet sector, and in 1949 East Berlin became the capital of a grim new Soviet satellite state, the German Democratic Republic, known as East Germany. At the same time the Federal Republic of Germany, or West Germany, was formed from the three western zones, with Bonn as its capital. For a year in 1948/9, Berlin was blockaded by the Soviet Union but rescued from starvation by an allied airlift, thus preserving a lone beacon of freedom behind what Winston Churchill in 1946 had called the 'Iron Curtain' lowered on Europe by Stalin. In 1961, to stem the westward flow of refugees, the communists built the Berlin Wall, which was not torn down until the collapse of the Soviet empire in 1989 paved the way to the reunification of the country with the absorption of East Germany into the Federal Republic.

The German story over the last 50 years is principally that of great economic success accompanied by a complex relationship to the country's troubled past and its anxious neighbours. Germany's war guilt still casts its shadow. No 'good German' speaks of nationalism without a shudder (the contrast between the UK's positive historical consciousness of nationhood and German recollections of National Socialism bedevils discussion of sovereignty between the two countries). Germany's response to its own legacy has been to seek rehabilitation through integration into international organisations, with the aim of exercising collective rather than individual influence. Whether the main result of this policy has been to dilute Germany's power or to extend its reach remains a matter of lively debate. It must, for example, be admitted that in many ways the EU has been shaped along German lines. Its 'social dimension' reflects the Rhine model of society rather than the Anglo-Saxon model. The D-mark long dominated the Community's monetary environment and the European Central Bank is based on the Bundesbank. The very concept of a federal Europe draws heavily on the Federal Republic's structure.

Some of the deeper ideas that came to shape the modern Europe also have a history in German thought. In the Third Reich and Vichy France German conquest was rationalised as the beginning of a vigorous new European order capable of standing up to Bolshevism and challenging the Asian and Anglo-Saxon worlds. Earlier still, World War I planners in Berlin had nurtured visions of a customs union stretching across Mitteleuropa from France to the Russian frontier. Defeat, demilitarisation and the communist threat wrought a transformation in these ideas, which were now inherited by a peaceful new generation wedded to democracy and determined to anchor itself in friendly alliances: with NATO and the USA against the Soviet Union; with the EEC as a stepping stone to stability and prosperity; and with France as an assurance against resentment of Germany's recovered strength or (that same ambiguity again) as a means to achieve joint leadership of Europe. A reunified Germany is today free from danger on either border. It is rich and highly regarded as a reliable ally. If doubts about excessive power remain, they are as often the self-doubts of Germans as the misgivings of other nations.

The country's yearning to be reaccepted as a civilised nation after World War II coincided with Churchill's vision of Franco-German reconciliation as the key to some form of united Europe. West Germany was established with a new constitution in 1949, entering the Council of Europe in 1950. Meanwhile, Chancellor Konrad Adenauer was pursuing friendship with France, even floating the idea of complete union of the two countries. In 1951, Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman of France proposed, and Adenauer agreed, to pool their countries' coal and steel industries. The objective, sealed with the Treaty of Paris, was to prevent the resurgence of German dominance in these crucial war industries. Adenauer went on to sign the North Atlantic Treaty in 1955 and the Treaty of Rome in 1957, the latter designed to free the market for German manufacturing in return for protecting French agriculture.

Germany's Francophile strategy, symbolised by the signature of the Treaty of the Elysée in 1963, did not, however, blind it to other priorities, some of which were anathema to Adenauer's soulmate and co-signatory, the French president Charles de Gaulle. Adenauer was pro-American and favoured British membership of the EEC. His economics minister Ludwig Erhard, the architect of Germany's 'economic miracle' of the 1950s and 1960s and a strong believer in open markets, was opposed to French protectionism: he even tried to resist the concept that the Common Market should be a customs union rather than a free trade area. The technocrat Walter Hallstein, who became the first president of the Commission in 1958, was an ardent federalist, a stance that led to bitter clashes with de Gaulle but set a policy that was to be followed almost uninterruptedly both in Brussels and in Germany, above all under Commission President Jacques Delors and Chancellor Helmut Kohl in the 1980s and 1990s.

If the mutual interests of France and Germany were strong enough to survive the nationalism of de Gaulle, they easily surmounted lesser strains, and a succession of French presidents and German chancellors continued to develop the special relationship. For Germany, however, there were still greater issues to the east - the Soviet threat and the seemingly remote dream of reunification. In the early 1970s, reversing the previous 'Hallstein doctrine' of confrontation with the Warsaw Pact countries, Chancellor Willy Brandt had instituted Ostpolitik, a policy of détente greeted with caution, even suspicion, in anti-communist circles. For the next 20 years, Germany's political agenda would be defined by Ostpolitik (conducted with varying degrees of enthusiasm) and the maintenance of Franco-German leadership of a Europe in which integration was proceeding inexorably, if at an uneven pace.

In 1990 the Berlin Wall came down, as suddenly as it had been erected. President François Mitterrand of France and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher reacted to the potential enlargement of Germany with visceral alarm, as did Italy's premier Giulio Andreotti, but Kohl pushed ahead resolutely. Mitterrand, recognising the inevitable, switched tack, accepting reunification in exchange for the Maastricht Treaty, which he saw as a new version of France's longstanding policy of German containment. To Kohl, the bargain was attractive - a more unified EU and a Germany made whole, in return for surrendering the hegemony of the D-Mark.

The future will belong to the Germans ... when we build the house of Europe. Former chancellor Helmut Kohl

Reunification presented the Community with severe technical obstacles, relating chiefly to the acquis communautaire, Russian troops and East Germany's treaties. By a special dispensation, however, East-West German trade was already tariff-free and transitional arrangements were soon agreed. The united Germany was incorporated into NATO, the Polish border was settled and in 1994 the last of Russia's 350,000 soldiers departed. The price of reunification was incalculable. On top of some DM13 billion paid to the Russians, there were the costs of cleaning up East Germany's pollution and building its infrastructure and the disguised cost of exchanging the D-Mark for the worthless Ostmark on a 1-for-1 basis. Priced out of the labour market, East Germans migrated westwards in search of jobs, while high interest rates, designed to forestall inflation, fed through into Europe-wide recession and volatile foreign exchange markets.

Germany's population was now increased by 17 million and its land area by 30%. Already Europe's largest country, with the added influence derived from being the principal contributor to the Community budget, it had become even more dominant - at least in economic terms. Its number of MEPs was increased from 81 to 99, though its votes in the Council of Ministers remained unchanged. Diplomatically Germany had long felt unable to punch its weight, having been impotent in the 1991 Gulf War and the Bosnian crisis. In 1994, however, it reflected its maturing political status by amending its constitution to allow German troops to be deployed outside its own borders on UN-backed operations - an amendment further modified in 1999 to allow participation in the international force in Kosovo.

Nineteen ninety-eight marked Kohl's 16th and last year as chancellor, by which time he had progressively realised his mission of 'a united Germany in a united Europe'. It had often been an uphill struggle. The Community was less popular among the electorate than in the élites. The growing authority vested in the EU took away power not only from the national government but also from the almost equally important governments of the regions, the Länder. This twin threat to sovereignty led to the German constitutional court coming close to refusing permission to ratify the Maastricht Treaty. Towards the end of his career Kohl had staked his reputation on the single currency, against the advice of the prestigious Bundesbank and seemingly against the wishes of the majority of his fellow citizens. A weak and divided coalition opposition, however, together with abhorrence of any action that could be construed as a reversion to nationalism, ensured that in the end the replacement of the D-Mark by the euro went through with little organised protest.

In recent years the country's image as an economic powerhouse has been somewhat dented. The political will has been lacking to undertake fundamental tax and labour market reforms in the face of heavy unemployment; and there has been a trend in manufacturing industry to invest abroad rather than incur Germany's high social and regulatory costs. Nor are these the only problems. The former East Germany remains economically backward; and social tensions have been awakened by an influx of refugees from Central Europe, Turkey and the Balkans. The resultant malaise led to Kohl's defeat by Gerhard Schroder in the elections of 1998, bringing to power for the first time a chancellor without direct memories of the war years.

Initially preoccupied with domestic concerns, Schroder flirted briefly with the 'third way' message of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, before allowing relations with France to resume centre stage. These, however, were not quite what they had once been. The personal chemistry between the two countries' leaders was indifferent; they had disagreed over several aspects of the single currency; and Germany's vision of a federal Europe with a powerful Parliament was at variance with France's preferred model of integration. Moreover, change was afoot. Spain and Britain, despite the latter's non-participation in the euro, were a growing presence. Eastward enlargement would bring Europe's centre of gravity closer to Berlin: but it would also complicate the question of EU integration and would raise the spectres of migration, low-cost competition and organised crime. As Kohl's immense shadow faded, some of Germany's old certainties were fading with him.


See Small countries.

Giscard d'Estaing, Valéry (1926-)

Valéry Giscard d'Estaing became president of France in 1974, having previously been finance minister under Charles de Gaulle and Georges Pompidou. His presidency was marked by the oil crisis, when soaring petroleum prices stifled growth and caused inflation and unemployment. During the seven-year period when their leadership of their respective countries coincided, Giscard's friendship with Helmut Schmidt ensured that France and Germany together determined all major EC policies - an echo of de Gaulle's relationship with Konrad Adenauer and a forerunner of François Mitterrand's with Helmut Kohl.

Giscard initiated the replacement of intermittent summits by regular meetings of the European Council and he teamed up with Schmidt to support Roy Jenkins' revival of the cause of Economic and Monetary Union. He was, however, sufficiently Gaullist to resist strongly (if unsuccessfully) the idea that Jenkins, as Commission president, should be treated on a par with heads of government; and when Margaret Thatcher became prime minister he fought her hard over the issue of the British contribution to the European budget.

A patrician and condescending man, Giscard was defeated by Mitterrand in 1981. He later briefly became an MEP and for many years continued to champion the European cause as president of the European Movement.


The ability to supply goods or services globally and to acquire them from the most competitive source in the world. This is a growing phenomenon, resulting from falling tariffs, the spread of technology and the mobility of international capital. Blamed by protectionists for Europe's economic underperformance, by greens for pollution and by developing countries for exchange rate instability, globalisation has led to calls for environmental regulation and for import or capital controls, depending on the standpoint of the complainant.

Goldsmith, Sir James (1933-97)

A wealthy Anglo-French entrepreneur, Goldsmith personally financed the British Referendum Party in the 1997 general election. The party won few votes, but alarmed the main parties into promising a referendum before attempting to bring the country into the single currency. The French side of his character came out in his book The Trap, in which he advocated protectionism in developed economies against low-cost, chiefly Asian, competition.

González, Felipe (1942-)

As Spain's socialist prime minister for nearly 14 years until his defeat in the 1996 general election, Felipe González steered his country into the European Community in 1986 and presided over its emergence from the aftermath of dictatorship into modernisation and democracy. A strong and popular character, González was an enthusiast for all forms of European integration. He authored the concept of the 'cohesion fund', introduced by the Maastricht Treaty to assist poorer countries, including Spain, and it was his painful austerity programme that paved the way for Spain's admission to the single currency. The close of his political career was hastened and disfigured by corruption charges and the revelation that his government had waged a secret 'dirty war' against the Basque separatist guerrillas.


The cradle of Western civilisation and democracy, Greece traces its history back more than 4,000 years. Within a span of some 150 years from 480 BC to 330 BC, Greeks created the cultural and intellectual framework for the empires of Alexander the Great and Rome. After many subsequent vicissitudes, Greece fell under Turkish rule for nearly 400 years, regaining its independence, but not resolving its emnity, in 1829. In World War II Greece was occupied by Italy and Germany, succumbing to virulent civil strife between Marxists and right-wing militarists, which continued after the war. A prolonged effort to unite with Cyprus ended in 1974 with the partition of the island following a failed Greek coup and a Turkish invasion. The monarchy was abolished the same year and elections were reintroduced after seven years of rule by colonels.

Greece was admitted to the EC in 1981. The Commission had given a negative opinion on economic grounds, but the Council was persuaded by Prime Minister Constantine Karamanlis to overrule the Commission in order to safeguard democracy against another military coup. Already the Community's poorest member, Greece soon became its least harmonious. The new government of Andreas Papandreou was of the extreme left, supporting the Soviet Union, ignoring Community policy and preoccupying itself with the country's ageless vendetta against Turkey. Greece is also hostile to the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, on the pretext of its alleged territorial ambitions over Greek Macedonia.

The country is one of the main beneficiaries of EU structural funds, but despite considerable subsidised investment in infrastructure it has not yet improved its relative economic situation since entering the Community. It joined the Exchange Rate Mechanism in 1998 and has made progress in strengthening its financial discipline. It did not, however, qualify for inclusion in the first wave of participants in the single currency, although it has hopes of being admitted in the early years of the 21st century. Nevertheless, if there have been disappointments on both sides in Greece's membership of the EU, there have also been gains. In 1999 Greece withdrew its long-standing objection to Turkey's candidature. The Cyprus question is beginning to look less hopelessly intractable, and the country's democracy is notably less fragile.

Green currencies

Green currencies, introduced into the Common Agricultural Policy in the late 1960s, represent an artificial common exchange rate for farm products, designed to equalise prices regardless of currency fluctuations. A country with a strong currency, such as Germany, which would otherwise have suffered from selling produce at the less valuable common exchange rate, used until 1992 to be recompensed by 'monetary compensation amounts'; the opposite applied for a country with a weak currency. Within the eurozone the single currency will render obsolete this system, which was in any case modified in 1993. For British farmers, however, the sharp increase in the value of the pound in 1997-8 and the fall of the euro in 1999-2000 were particularly unfortunate, since any compensation from the EU was now conditional on matching payments from the British government, which were not forthcoming. (See also Common Agricultural Policy.)

Green parties

At the national level, European concern about the environment has been reflected in the emergence of Green political parties, especially in Germany and Sweden. The German Greens, divided between pragmatic 'realos' and fundamentalist 'fundis', are potentially powerful enough to act as kingmakers in domestic coalition governments, and also comprise a sizeable minority among German MEPs. In the European Parliament, some of the Greens are allied with the far left.


Greenland is chiefly remarkable in European circles for being the only country to have withdrawn from the EC. This it achieved in 1985, having gained a substantial measure of independence from Denmark in 1979 (before 1953 it was a Danish colony; between 1953 and 1979 it was an integral part of Denmark, in which capacity it joined the Community in 1973). Greenland is paid by the EU for access to its fish and continues to qualify for structural funds.

Group of Seven (G-7)

The seven leading developed countries - the USA, Japan, Germany, France, the UK, Italy and Canada - which since 1975 (1976 in Canada's case) have met regularly at head of government and finance minister level, with the president of the EU in attendance since 1977, to discuss economic issues. The occasion is also generally used to add discussions of international political affairs, in which case the foreign ministers are present. In 1998 the G-7 became the G-8 when Russia (previously an observer) was accepted as a full member at the political sessions.

Gymnich meetings

Informal private ministerial meetings, generally held in conjunction with European Council meetings. (Named after the first such occasion at Schloss Gymnich in 1974.)

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