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European Union - Section from 1992 Conservative Party Manifesto

Below are sections of the Conservative Party 1992 manifesto relating to the Maastricht Treaty and European policy.


The Conservatives have been the party of Britain in Europe for 30 years. We have argued when argument was necessary; but we have not wavered nor changed our views. We have ensured that Britain is at the heart of Europe; a strong and respected partner.

We have played a decisive part in the development of the Community over the past decade. It was a British initiative which launched the Single Market programme and our insistence which reformed the Community's finances. Britain has promoted co-operation on foreign policy and in combating terrorism. Britain has also persuaded our partners to welcome new countries who apply for Community membership.

The Maastricht Treaty was a success both for Britain and for the rest of Europe. British proposals helped to shape the key provisions of the Treaty including those strengthening the enforcement of Community law defence, subsidiarity and law and order. But Britain refused to accept the damaging Social Chapter proposed by other Europeans, and it was excluded from the Maastricht treaty

All Member States must live up to their obligations under Community law. At Maastricht, we secured agreement that the European Court will be able to fine any Member State which fails to do so.

We will work closely with our partners in foreign policy and in the war on international crime.

We will continue to resist changes to the Treaty of Rome that would damage British business.

We will resist Commission initiatives which run counter to the principle that issues should be dealt with on a national basis wherever possible.

Britain is a great trading nation. We prosper through the maintenance of an open trading system. We will work for a successful outcome to the GATT negotiations.

We will redouble our efforts to reform the Common Agricultural Policy and will stoutly defend the interests of British farmers and consumers.

We will insist on more effective control over Community spending and will resist pressure to extend Community competence to new areas.

We will work to strengthen the external frontiers of the Community whilst maintaining the checks needed at our own borders against illegal immigration, drugs, terrorism and disease.


In the second half of 1992 Britain will take the Chair of the Council of Ministers. The British Presidency comes at a turning point in the Community's history. It gives us the opportunity to shape the direction of the Community and to establish its priorities. We shall use it to promote our vision of an outward looking Community based on free enterprise.

Our Presidency will reach its climax at the Edinburgh meeting of the European Council, which we will hold in the historic palace of Holyrood House. While the attention of Europe is focused on Edinburgh, the strength of our Union will be visible to all.

Our priorities will be:

To start negotiations with those EFTA countries who want to join the Community so that they can join by 1995.

To build on the EC's Association Agreements with Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland so that we can welcome them to full membership by the year 2000.

To conclude EC trade and co-operation agreements with the main republics of the former Soviet Union.

To complete the single market and extend it to the seven countries of EFTA. Over half our trade is with the rest of the Community. The single market will create an open market of 350 million customers for British goods and services. To complete the single market we shall aim to:

open up the market for life insurance to free competition;

liberalise air travel to bring down air fares in Europe closer to those in America;

free up the shipping and road transport markets so that British operators can carry freely within the EC;

increase competition in the European energy sector.

We will provide guidance and help to any British company encountering a trade barrier illegal under European law.

We will press for progress on the environment, including the Fifth Environment Action Programme.

We will chair the negotiations on the future spending priorities of the Community to ensure value for money. We will safeguard the abatement negotiated by Mrs Thatcher which has so far brought some £12,000 million in budget rebates to Britain.


Membership of the ERM is now central to our counter-inflation discipline. But the ERM is not a magic wand. It would not protect Labour; it would merely expose the folly of Labour policies. Some Labour politicians know that all too well - others simply don't. They - and some of the unions - would put irresistible spending pressure on a Labour government.

Some members of the European Community are anxious to hurry on from the ERM to Economic and Monetary Union. Others have doubts. Quite apart from the constitutional issues, they do not want to take risks with what is being achieved in the ERM.

The Treaty negotiated at Maastricht laid down the process under which the Community can, if its members meet certain economic conditions, create a monetary union with a single currency for some or all of them. Together with Germany we fought for tough criteria. We believe a monetary union would collapse, with damaging consequences, if it were imposed on economies that were too diverse.

A union will only come about by 1997 if a substantial majority of Community members agree it should. It would only include those members who were judged to have met specified conditions. And it would only come about if a majority of members were judged to have done so.

But the Treaty goes on to say that monetary union will come about automatically in 1999, for all who meet the conditions. We did not want to exclude ourselves from membership; but we could not accept such an automatic commitment. By the end of this decade the EC's membership will have changed; the economic performance of man of its members may have changed. We cannot tell who the members of such a union might be.

We therefore secured the freedom to make a proper judgement on events. We are as free to join if we wish as an other member. We would have to meet the same conditions - no more, no less. We will play our full part in the discussions of the monetary institutions Europe may create in the 1990s. But we are not obliged to join in a single currency if we do not want to.

In due course, we will move to the narrow bands of the ERM.

We will play our full part in the design and discussion of monetary institutions for Europe.

When or if other members of the EC move to a monetary union with a single currency, we will take our own unfettered decision on whether to join. That decision will be taken by the United Kingdom Parliament.