The German government has been forced to hand over hitherto secret documents that expose the flaws of the euro - and the misgivings of European politicians - in the years before it became a reality.
Der Spiegel news magazine made a successful request for the release of the euro files at a time when the odds on Greece quitting the common currency within 18 months rise to 75 per cent and the chances of a complete shattering of the eurozone have never been higher.
Born in 1998 and introduced across the continent four years later, the euro was always a time bomb waiting to go off. Many of Helmut Kohl's aides had huge doubts at the time - and pinpointed Italy as the weakest link.
'The documents from the Kohl administration, kept confidential until now, indicate that the euro's founding fathers were well aware of its deficits.
And that they pushed ahead with the project regardless,' said Spiegel when it broke the news of the great euro con trick on the people of Europe today.
Hundreds of pages of German government documents from 1994 to 1998 stated clearly that Italy - now one of the floundering southern European euro states - should not have been allowed to join.
Later on the files bring up another country that was poised for catastrophe: Greece.
Aides warned Kohl - who, along with De Gaulle in France relentlessly drove the European Project onwards as a bulwark against future war - that Italy's austerity measures taken at the time were merely 'window dressing.'
Spiegel dubbed the information in the files as 'Operation Self Deception.'
The Germans seemingly knew they were driving the continent into a fiscal cul-de-sac but went ahead with it anyway.
On February 3, 1997, the German Finance Ministry noted that in Rome 'important structural cost-saving measures were almost completely omitted, out of consideration for the social consensus.'
On April 22, speaker's notes for the chancellor stated that there was 'almost no chance' that 'Italy will fulfill the criteria.'
On June 5, the economics department of the Chancellery reported that Italy's growth outlook was 'moderate' and that progress on consolidation was 'overrated.'
Horst Koehler, a man who later became German president but at the time was the German chief negotiator in the Maastricht Treaty negotiations, concluded that Italy had not fulfilled the conditions 'for permanent and sustainable deficit and debt reduction,' and that it posed 'a special risk' to the euro. But Kohl overrode him.
'The documents that have now been released suggest that the Kohl administration misled both the public and Germany's Federal Constitutional Court,' said Spiegel.
The paperwork comes at a time of rising dissent in Germany among workers that it has become the banker for more profligate nations.
They show Kohl desperately wanted to believe that Italy was 'cleaning up its act' even when his own advisers told him it wasn't. On April 3 1990 the
German embassy in Rome warned that the risk Italy represented to fiscal harmony should 'not be ignored.'
Three months later, when Italy had secured its participation in the euro, Italy admitted its bookkeeping was less than exemplary and that reforms planned at Maastricht had not been reached.
Spiegel added; 'The message the documents convey is that political opportunism will ultimately prevail.
A monetary union amounts to more than shifting several billion euros back and forth. It is also a community of fate. Shared money requires shared policy and, in the end, shared institutions.
'The euro is now in its 14th year, and after two years of ongoing crisis, there is a growing realization in Berlin and other capitals that the status quo cannot continue. All reform efforts still resemble small steps to nowhere.'
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