Below is the text of Mr Major’s speech at the William and Mary Lecture, given in Leiden at the University on 7th September 1994.
Britain and the Netherlands
John Milton, the great British poet, described Leiden as "That famous University and renowned Commonwealth, a sanctuary of liberty". I am privileged to deliver the second William and Mary Lecture in such distinguished surroundings.
This lecture series was inaugurated by Ruud Lubbers in Milton's University, Cambridge. It celebrates the close bonds between our two nations over hundreds of years. Bonds so old that even in the time of the first Queen Elizabeth, her Secretary of State, Sir Francis Walsingham, declared Britain and the Netherlands to be "the most ancient allies and familiar neighbours". Bonds epitomised in our fierce attachment to the liberty stressed by Milton. Liberty underlies much that I shall say this evening.
The long history of the Anglo/Dutch relationship is, of course, not wholly one of unbroken harmony and friendship. I admired Ruud Lubbers's lightness of touch in passing over four Anglo/Dutch wars as "the occasional naval battle" in last year's lecture. And at various times in our history, Britain and the Netherlands have been fierce rivals in their pursuit of prosperity on the world's sea lanes.
In the post-
The Dutch and British are not just allies; not just the inheritors of outward-
The challenges facing Europe
It is from that perspective -
My theme is the long-
To some, who believe the original concept is not yet met, that may seem provocative.
It is intended to be realistic. Since the 1950s and especially over the past five
years, our Continent has changed in ways no-
I shall first describe Britain's outlook on Europe.
Then I shall look at the ways in which the European Union should be developed in the future.
Finally, I shall set out how we can extend security and prosperity to our neighbours in Central and Eastern Europe.
BRITAIN'S OUTLOOK AND CONTRIBUTION
The caricature of Britain
Let me tackle, straight away, a popular caricature.
The caricature is that there are, in broad terms, only two approaches to the European
The caricature is ludicrous. Many of the key developments of the past few years have
been advanced by Britain's advocacy -
Nor is it right to characterise Britain's opposition to some policies as anti-
That is why I believe we must keep social costs down. If we don't we will lose competitiveness, lose jobs, lose prosperity.
This, to me, is a pro-
The fact is that there are not two approaches to Europe among the Governments of the Union, but one and twelve. One because we are all firmly committed to a strong and effective European Union. But twelve because no two Governments have identical approaches. Issue by issue, the twelve members line up in different ways. Sometimes, the United Kingdom finds itself with the majority, sometimes not.
Sometimes, we are on our own. But that does not happen only to the United Kingdom. Yet how often have we seen the headline "Britain isolated"; and Britain's fidelity to the European Union questioned as a result? We don't see this question asked when, as often happens, other Member States stand on their own, in what they see as important national interests.
Yes, Britain -
The British Outlook
So what is the British perspective?
First, it is quite simply that Britain is irrevocably part of Europe. We are hard-
But, second, it must be the right sort of Europe. One which does not impose undue
conformity, but encourages flexibility. Only in that way will we achieve the Europe
we want -
Third, we believe that the political dimension is crucial to making the most of the development of the Union.
Fourth, we want the European Union, -
And fifth, we want the Union's development to be realistic, attainable, and -
Like everyone else, we want to move forward in Europe. We cannot consider Europe complete while so many European democracies remain outside the Union. But if we are to build well, we must build carefully. We do not just want a futuristic grand design which never leaves the drawing board. Even worse would be to put up a building which fell down because we hadn't got it right. The most constructive attitude to Europe is to plan a future that works. That is what Britain wants.
It is to this Europe that Britain seeks to make a very large and positive contribution.
The assets Britain brings to Europe are pet haps too easily taken for granted.
We have the world's sixth largest economy. London is one of the world's leading financial centres. Our trading links and global connections bring substantial benefits to Europe. We are the second largest net contributor to the European Union's budget.
With France, Britain is one of only two nations in the Union which still have a global reach to their foreign policies. Alone in Europe, the United Kingdom is a member simultaneously of the UN Security Council, the Economic Summit, and of the Commonwealth which now comprises one third of the world's nations. We have a deep involvement in all of the Continents of the world.
Our contribution to the defence of Europe, to its security institutions, to its ability
to exert an influence when conflict threatens European interests -
I make these points, not from national pride, but because our willingness to contribute, whether to the European Union or to NATO, is vivid evidence of the British commitment to the freedom and future of continental Europe.
Given this commitment, it is high time that the caricature of Britain in Europe was
buried. We have a commitment which surely gives Britain the right -
THE FUTURE OF THE EUROPEAN UNION
Achievements and Problems
We should not let the European Union's recent difficulties obscure its remarkable success over four decades.
The European Community was born to end divisions in Western Europe. It has succeeded. With NATO, it has given us peace and prosperity in our part of the Continent, and made war literally unthinkable. The determination of the Founding Fathers has succeeded far beyond the estimations of most people in their time. Their vision was proved right for its age. But it is outdated. It will not do now. We must all adjust our vision to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.
The deep hurt of the recession and bitter divisions over Maastricht -
The European Union seems temporarily to have lost the self-
The Lessons for the Future
The European Union has come a very long way in a very short time. There is impatience to take it further, but impatience is a poor framework for building soundly. Even though the original ambitious schemes mooted were not incorporated in the Maastricht Treaty, the final outcome nevertheless strained the limits of acceptability to Europe's electors.
The lesson is self-
Another clear message is that Europe's peoples in general retain their faith and
confidence in the Nation State. In the European Union, Nation States have both pooled
elements of sovereignty and retained their independence and individuality. We have
reached a careful and effective balance, and the evidence is that our peoples are
wary of over-
Edouard Balladur said last week: "France has always wanted a Europe of nation states, which respects each country's own personality". So has Britain. I believe that the Nation State will remain the basic political unit in Europe.
A third lesson is the need for greater transparency. Both the language and the institutions of the European Union can be extraordinarily difficult to penetrate from outside. They need to be made accessible to the citizens of Europe. At present they are not.
Tasks for the Future
I see two pre-
The European Union now needs to regain public support by making a success of what is already on its agenda.
Let me touch on some of the key points in this process.
First, cohesion within a community of twelve to sixteen requires flexibility, as I argued consistently throughout the recent European elections.
So I am glad a debate on this matter is now developing, and I have read with great interest recent contributions by Edouard Balladur and by Wolfgang Schauble and Karl Lamers. I welcome their emphasis on a more flexible Europe. Diversity is not a weakness to be suppressed: it is a strength to be harnessed. If we try to force all European countries into the same mould we shall end up cracking that mould. Greater flexibility is the only way in which we shall be able to build a Union rising to 16 and ultimately to 20 or more Member States.
The way the Union develops must be acceptable to all Member States. It seems to me perfectly healthy for all Member States to agree that some should, integrate more closely or more quickly in certain areas. There's nothing novel in this. It is the principle we agreed on economic and monetary union at Maastricht. It may also happen on defence.
But the corollary is that no Member State should be excluded from an area of policy
in which it wants and is qualified to participate. To choose not to participate is
one thing To be prevented from doing so is quite another -
So I see a real danger, in talk of a "hard core", inner and outer circles, a two-
That is why an essential component of the future European construction must be flexibility. We need a debate about it.
By flexibility, of course, I do not advocate chaotic non-
There are areas where conformity is right and necessary -
The European Monetary Union is a case in point. The arrangements in the Maastricht
Treaty for progress towards EMU do not simply allow, but require a differentiated
approach. This is essential. Whatever one's view of EMU Stage 3 -
In developing Britain's approach to the IGC, I will be guided by four considerations:
The first is my sense of what Britain's Parliament wants and what people actually need.
Secondly, I shall want to see greater flexibility in the European Union, and greater tolerance of diversity.
But that makes it all the more important, third, that Europe maintains a strong sense of shared purpose and common enterprise. The IGC must be the anvil on which we forge a stronger Union.
And fourth, that any proposals for change are workable and effective. The European Union has never lacked for ideas for its development. But it needs ideas which work.
The European Parliament and National Parliaments
This is particularly evident in the approach we must take to developing the European Union's democratic credentials.
Within a more open, flexible and diverse Europe, what should be the respective roles of the European Parliament and the national parliaments?
Parliaments take time to mature. Compared with the British Parliament and the States General in the Netherlands, the European Parliament is a fledgling institution. It has gained considerable powers in a short period. It plays a significant role in the legislative process: some 50 per cent of its legislative amendments are adopted, which is a far higher average than any national parliament. Yet clearly there is a long way to go before it wins respect and popular affection.
The European Parliament sees itself as the future democratic focus for the Union. But this is a flawed ambition, because the European Union is an association of States, deriving its basic democratic legitimacy through national Parliaments. That should remain the case. People will continue to see national Parliaments as their democratic focus. It is national parliamentary democracy that confers legitimacy on the European Council.
The European Parliament is not the answer to the democratic deficit, as the pitiably
The task for 1996 is for the European Parliament to grow into its existing powers
It should also do all it can to oppose fraud. Defrauding the Community budget has
become a multi-
In parallel, I believe that much more should be done to build links between national Parliaments and the European Parliament. Westminster, as I suspect is the case with most national Parliaments, is partly at fault here. We all need to develop a more cooperative effort with the European Parliament and we must examine how this can be done. In my own country, I see a case for Joint Committees (both by inviting MEPs to contribute to national scrutiny committees, and vice versa) and we will examine this in the months ahead.
Second and third pillars
The IGC will also consider the so-
The first joint actions in foreign policy strike us as no more than a modest beginning. They have included the elections in South Africa and Russia, humanitarian aid in Bosnia and assistance to the Middle East peace process. We should be more ambitious. There are obvious advantages in developing common policies towards Russia, Ukraine, and other countries in Eastern and Central Europe.
Of course, for each of us, there will be areas of foreign policy where national action is more appropriate. Hong Kong is an obvious example for the United Kingdom. But when we can act together we have a diplomatic impact much greater than the sum of our parts.
What of defence? We have NATO, we have the Western European Union. Both offer guarantees
for our safety, both call for commitments, both have been a focus of British efforts
over the past 40 years. We have now decided to retain and reshape NATO -
There is serious and detailed work to be done before we have turned these general propositions into reality. Britain will be at the core of this enterprise. Britain's armed forces have the experience, skill and professionalism to meet the new challenges which we now face. The defence of Europe is not for us a luxury, but a necessity.
The third pillar, Home Affairs and Justice, deals with threats to our societies of a different kind. There are growing risks to all of our countries from organised crime, and in particular from drug trafficking and money laundering. Cooperation in the fight against crime must become as instinctive as it is in foreign and defence policy. And our Governments must organise their work better than the criminals who oppose them. We are determined to see a success made of Europol, and the further development of the third pillar. The United Kingdom will pursue this energetically.
ENLARGEMENT TO THE EAST
A month ago, on a warm night in Warsaw, I sat by the Monument to the 1944 Uprising and heard a remarkable speech by the President of Germany. To anyone familiar with Warsaw's history, it was striking that he should be there at all. He was speaking to a nation whose overriding foreign policy objective is to integrate with Western Europe's institutions and above all with the European Union and with NATO. For all that has happened in Polish history, the Polish people want to bind themselves to Germany and to the rest of us. And for all that has happened in German history, Germany wants Poland to be a free and equal partner in our Union.
On the following day I sat in Vilnius with the Prime Ministers of the three Baltic States. Their goal was the same. They, like the Poles, the Czechs, the Slovaks, the Hungarians and other peoples on the edge of our present Union, are part of the European family.
After the war, and through the 1950s and beyond, we had to preserve the security of Western Europe against the threat from Communism. Now we must move on. Communism has gone. For the next generation we face a different task. It is to make sure that the barriers now down in Europe's East do not rise again in any form.
We have taken our first small steps along that road but we have to go a great deal further. Our predecessors went to war after Poland and Czechoslovakia were invaded. But at the end of a six year war that engulfed the world, those same nations lost their freedom for half a century. By bringing the Central European States into our family of democracies, we can finally make good the damage they suffered. This must and can be done in a way which benefits the whole of Europe. Indeed, it will enhance the Union: a free, stable, prosperous and democratic Central Europe will be a huge benefit to the whole Continent.
The process will require many changes from the countries to our East. They will need to embody our standards of democracy, law and human rights. They must adopt the economics of the free market.
However, the change cannot be only on one side. If we expect them to make changes to join us, then we must make changes to help them do it. We must be prepared, for example, to offer periods of transition in some areas. We must also face the fact that our European Union cannot function in the same way and with the same policies with sixteen or twenty or more members as it did with six or ten or twelve.
Two examples suffice to make this point. The Common Agricultural Policy, as at present operated, would be unsustainable and unaffordable with twenty. members. Wholesale reform will be essential. Secondly, the admission of less economically advanced countries will mean a major reform and redirection of structural funds.
Enlargement: Economic Cooperation and Free Trade
We have a responsibility to help the economic development of our neighbours to the
They must be given access to our markets and not kept at bay by trade defence mechanisms. We do not want to build a Continent where economic divisions would return as the ghosts of the political barriers which crumbled in 1989.
Enlargement: Security Relationships
Our outward reach of course must extend to security relationships. Here, too, we
must be flexible. For some countries, membership of NATO will be the the right answer,
the only question is when rather than whether. For twenty-
Mr. President, soon we hope to be welcoming four new members to the European Union. They will not be the last. We have the prospect of a Union of increasing diversity, a Union in which difference in size, shape, economic and industrial profile, philosophy, history and culture will make varied geometry a fact whatever decisions we may choose to make about our institutions.
This diversity, these differences, will undoubtedly make for more vigorous debate, more late nights, harder work to keep our common aims on track. We may sometimes need to take comfort in the observation of a Dutch philosopher, Spinoza, that all excellent things are as difficult as they are rare.
We will have to balance priorities, the priorities of the smaller nations with those of the larger ones, the needs of the southern countries with those of the north, of allowing for the various weights of agriculture and industry in the national economies of our European Union. In the future, Britain will work hard to ensure the Union takes good account of these differences. We want to ensure that common policies are adopted wherever they offer common benefits; we want to ensure our Union is not a directorate of the larger countries at the expense of the smaller countries. Above all, Mr. President, we don't want Europe to go off the road. When we see a proposal that could have this effect, then we will say so in a frank and a realistic way and when we have positive proposals to put forward, we will do so vigorously and argue our case with conviction and clarity. That is the positive attitude that we have, an attitude to help Europe towards a future, a future that works, a future that we believe can be built if we have the courage, the application and the farsightedness to take the decisions now that will shape our future not just for the months and the years immediately ahead but far beyond that to make the most of the opportunity that I passionately believe lies at hand for all of us in Europe. [Applause].