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Professors Seek Delay of Euro

February 9, 1998

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) _ More than 150 German economics professors published a petition today urging that Europe’s common currency be postponed due to ``most unsuitable″ economic conditions.

Their letter, published in the Frankfurter Allegmeine newspaper and London’s Financial Times, was just the latest warning from Germany’s intellectual elite that Europe should put off the euro’s debut on Jan. 1, 1999.

Four German professors filed a lawsuit last month in Germany’s highest court, saying the currency union is bound to fail because Germany and other prospective members cannot meet strict fiscal requirements, such as debt reduction, set out in the 1992 Masstricht treaty.

The petition published today makes the same argument. Organized by Manfred Neumann of Bonn and Renate Ohr of Hoehenheim, the letter was signed by 155 professors _ the biggest opposition yet to the monetary union.

With national elections seven months away, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl has staked his reputation on the common currency, pushing for strict adherence to requirements such as reducing budget deficits to 3 percent.

In the lawsuit, the four plaintiffs express concern that German and other EU members are making unrealistic adjustments to meet that criteria. The practice has been derisively called ``creative accounting″ _ speeded-up privatizations, pension fund transfers and other maneuvers to raise money.

While EU members may meet the criteria on paper, the plaintiffs say, their stop-gap measures are creating unhealthy economies that, in the long run, are not ready for the euro.

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