Biography Chronology Home Search Speeches/Statements

1995 - Mr Major’s Doorstep Interview in Madrid

Below is the text of Mr Major’s doorstep interview in Madrid on Friday 15th December 1995.


QUESTION:

Prime Minister, could you give us some indication of the problem areas that you might be pointing out this morning to the rest of the people here if a small group goes ahead? What are the sort of areas that might raise difficulty?

PRIME MINISTER:

There are a whole range of areas. If I could just illustrate one. Let us presuppose there are a small number of countries that go ahead with a new single currency and a larger number of countries that don't. The probability is that the single currency would become progressively stronger, certainly against many of the weaker European countries. There is then the danger of competitive devaluation and retaliatory protectionism across the Community. And the self-evident worry about that, a very real worry, is that the single market itself could become damaged, if not destroyed. Now that is a matter that is one of the greatest creations of the European Union, it is very important that it isn't. That is by no means the only illustration but it is one that is readily explainable.

QUESTION:

Are you going to tell your colleagues in Europe that a single currency would be bad for Europe?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, that is not what I am saying to people. I am saying that we have to examine what the implications of a single currency are. There is a possibility that some countries will be ready to go ahead in 1999, that is certainly possible, a minority of countries might do that. But what is the most important thing is to determine what that will mean for the whole of Europe. It is not just going to be a matter for the countries that go ahead, it will have an implication on countries right across the European Union and it will fundamentally change it. It will be the most important single monetary decision taken across Europe within living memory, so it has to be right. And my concern has always been that many of the things that need to be examined quite frankly have not yet been properly examined. Some of them will be solvable, others more difficult, but they must be examined.

QUESTION:

What is your own personal preference for the name of the new single European currency?

PRIME MINISTER:

I regard it as very much a secondary issue, to be honest. It seems to me rather odd to name the baby before the pregnancy. It is I think a secondary issue. There are several names in the running, Euro is certainly in the running, that is probably the majority choice at the moment. I could live with that. I think frankly it is a fairly uninspiring name for people right across Europe. I would prefer to have something more dignified with a European history - the florin, shilling, crown, something of that sort - but I repeat it is really a secondary issue.

QUESTION:

On enlargement, what kind of safeguards do you hope to get in terms both of the CAP and of structural funds in Europe?

PRIME MINISTER:

I don't think we are going to be discussing enlargement today. I think we are discussing enlargement when the central and east European countries join us for luncheon tomorrow. I am very keen to see the European Union enlarge, I think that is an historical opportunity for this generation of politicians that we ought not to let go, it is by far the most important thing that lies in front of us at the moment. So I hope we will discuss that tomorrow and consider how to enlarge. It will clearly be gradualist, we will need to take in countries, in their interest as well as ours, when they are ready to join. And so self-evidently we will have to look at what that may mean for structural funds, and who has them, and how much, and of course reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.

QUESTION:

On the single currency, are they rushing it?

PRIME MINISTER:

They are very keen to reach a conclusion and many of them feel that if there is artificial delay then the matter will go off the boil. So I think we have to accept that many of them see advantages in the single currency and they are very keen to do so.

So I don't think it is a confrontational matter of them rushing it, us delaying it. We are looking at it in a very pragmatic way. Is it right for Europe? What is its effect on Europe? Is it right for the United Kingdom? What would its effects be on the United Kingdom? Those are the matters that concern me rather than the question, is it too soon, is it too late? The question is: Is it right and when would it be right? Those are the questions.