An agreement reached between France and Germany on the eve of Thursday's summit on a new bailout for Greece was a prerequisite to ending the eurozone debt crisis, the French government said.

"/> An agreement reached between France and Germany on the eve of Thursday's summit on a new bailout for Greece was a prerequisite to ending the eurozone debt crisis, the French government said.

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GREECE

Pre-accord key to ending euro crisis: France

An agreement reached between France and Germany on the eve of Thursday's summit on a new bailout for Greece was a prerequisite to ending the eurozone debt crisis, the French government said.

“It was obviously a prerequisite. It won’t be enough: today we still have to convince our partners and work together with our partners,” government spokeswoman Valerie Pecresse told France 2 television.

“But the idea of having a common Franco-German position was an essential prerequisite so that today we can find a lasting solution for Greece.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the eurozone’s key players, agreed on a “common position” after late-night talks in Berlin just hours before an EU summit convenes in Brussels to tackle the debt crisis.

European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet took part in the meeting.

Pecresse declined to provide any details but the Franco-German agreement will lay the groundwork for negotiations between the eurozone’s 17 leaders after weeks of debate over how to put a lid on the year-long debt crisis.

“We must build the widest possible consensus and the first building block of that consensus, is obviously a common position” between France and Germany, she said.

Asked whether a special bank tax to raise billions to help save Greece was on the table, Pecresse said that “a whole series of possibilities are being explored” but Paris and Berlin would first inform their eurozone partners.

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EUROPEAN UNION

How Britain tried to turn former French president Chirac against the euro

British diplomats tried to establish a "very private link" with former French president Jacques Chirac with the "unavowed aim" of exposing him to the risks of a European currency union, declassified documents revealed Thursday.

How Britain tried to turn former French president Chirac against the euro
French President Jacques Chirac (L) welcomes British Prime Minister John Major at the Elysee Palace 29 July 1995 in Paris. Photo: AFP
The government files from 1995 document Britain's plan to influence the French president's decision on whether to proceed with the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), the group of policies that led to the formation of the euro.
   
“Chirac is alive to the risks of ploughing ahead with the EMU without thinking through the implications,” then British ambassador in Paris Christopher Mallaby wrote to the prime minister at the time, John Major, in a cable outlining his plan to “move the debate in our direction”.
   
He suggested “establishing a very private link” between Downing Street and Chirac's Elysee palace. 
   
“The pretext could be private discussions” about currency union, he wrote.
 
Photo: AFP
 
“The unavowed aim would be to ensure that Chirac was exposed to the risks of an early move to EMU, including the divisive political effect within the EU,” he added.
   
Britain never joined the currency union, having infamously been forced to withdraw the pound from a precursor on “Black Wednesday” in 1992 when it could 
not keep sterling above an agreed level, and was keen to stall the move towards a full union.
   
Mallaby targeted Chirac as a potential ally, saying his “thinking is unformed and influenceable.”
   
The documents also revealed Chirac's scepticism about European integration.
   
“He said bluntly that Europe was no longer very popular,” a foreign office cable quoted him as saying at a 1995 heads of government meeting.
   
The president added that the “EU seemed to be cut off from the real problems affecting the ordinary citizen… and people saw it as a mammoth bureaucracy poking its nose in where it was not needed,” added the memo.
   
Prime Minister Major replied that “he had been waiting five years to hear someone else say things like this!”, according to the cables.
   
Major is now a fierce opponent of Brexit, having been fatally damaged in office by internal divisions over his decision to sign Britain up to the Maastricht Treaty in 1992.
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