French public opinion is beginning to rally behind the euro, Jean Paul Monchau, France’s consul general for the Southeast, said at a meeting in Atlanta of the local chapter of the French-American Chamber of Commerce Oct. 22.
Citing a September poll showing 67% of the population favored a single European currency, Mr. Monchau said that this figure showed an increase of more than 15% compared to a similar poll taken in June.
While a substantial portion of the French population is not supportive of the euro, he added that 92% believe the single currency will be implemented.
Mr. Monchau’s luncheon address at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Buckhead presented an upbeat view of the French economy. He predicted a growth rate of 2.3% for the year, adding that the trend during the second part of the year has been even higher.
He said France has benefited from the rise in the dollar since the beginning of the year with a trade surplus for the first six months of 1997 matching that for all of 1996.
He was equally buoyant about France’s success in meeting the convergence criteria set for admission to the European Monetary Union. France has met four of five criteria already, he said, including those set for inflation, long-term interest rates, public debt and exchange rates.
Only the general government deficit which must be below 3% of GNP still is to be met, he said, adding that France’s ratio has decreased from 6% in 1994 to 4% in 1996.
He predicted it would drop to 3.1% in 1997 and the country’s draft budget for 1998 has been calculated with a deficit of 3%. His government has set an objective of 2.2% by 2000.