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1992 - Mr Major’s Joint Doorstep Interview with Poul Schluter

Below is the text of Mr Major’s joint doorstep interview with the Danish Prime Minister, Mr Poul Schluter, held in Copenhagen on Wednesday 2nd December 1992.


MR SCHLUTER:

We have today had a visit by the British Prime Minister who also is the President of the Council and we have had a two and a half hour very valuable discussion. We have of course dealt with the many important issues coming up at the Edinburgh summit in December, amongst them for instance the financial reforms which we need, but naturally we have also dealt with the Danish issue and we have had constructive discussions. We all know that we must find a solution which does not necessitate reratification processes in the other countries and so a binding solution and we have had very very good progressive discussions over these issues based on what we from the Danish side have forwarded as a so-called Danish suggestion. I do think we can find a solution, that is difficult and we still have unsolved problems at this moment. We shall have a meeting of Foreign Ministers in the so-called Conclave on 8 December and I hope that this meeting also will help to mature the issue so that we can find a solution to the Danish issue along with the meeting in Edinburgh.

PRIME MINISTER:

Prime Minister, thank you very much. The Prime Minister has set out the areas we have been discussing this morning, we have had the opportunity of running through all the elements of the agenda that will be at Edinburgh, it will be a very crowded agenda, perhaps one of the most crowded that any European Council has had for many years. There are a very large number of matters to be determined and rather unusually many of them are linked together in one form or another. There are many interlinked decisions that will altogether, providing we get the key components right, it is not unlike, if I can put it this way, putting together Rubik's cube, providing we get the central parts right many of the other things I think will then fall into place.

We have had the opportunity of discussing every aspect of what may be on the Edinburgh agenda. But of course, as the Prime Minister said, we spent some time looking at the special difficulties faced in Denmark about the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty. I think we have had some very worthwhile discussions on that, I still have other European partners to consult, I hope in due course when we have finished all the consultation we will have some proposals that we will be able to circulate, they will be proposals that will still need discussion by the Foreign Ministers and subsequently in the Edinburgh summit.

What I am absolutely clear about in my discussions thus far is that not just in Denmark but right the way across the Community there is an evident wish to reach a satisfactory conclusion that will enable Denmark to go ahead with the second referendum and to ratify the treaty in due course.

So those are the matters we have been discussing, I think the Prime Minister and I will take a few questions if you have any.


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

QUESTION:

Prime Minister Schluter, if I heard you correctly, you said earlier that you needed to reach an outcome which did not require reratification but which was nevertheless a binding solution, did you omit the word legally in front of the word binding?

MR SCHLUTER:

There is no difference. What we are seeking is a solution acceptable to all twelve members of the EC and with clear content that it is legally binding according to international law.

QUESTION:

According to international law and not according to the treaty?

MR SCHLUTER:

It is the national law of governments [indistinct] and that is nice.

QUESTION:

Chancellor Kohl and a wide body of opinion in Britain dreamt of an enhanced European free trade zone without sacrificing sovereignty [indistinct] is that right or is it unhelpful to you?

PRIME MINISTER:

I have not seen the details of everything Chancellor Kohl has said this morning. I know that Chancellor Kohl shares my wish that we should have a satisfactory outcome at Edinburgh, that we should be enabled to go ahead with the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty and he also shares my belief that the Community must go ahead as Twelve in order to achieve that. But I have not seen all the details of the Chancellor's speech this morning, I have been talking to the Prime Minister here.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible].

MR SCHLUTER:

I assume you all know the content of the Danish suggestion, there are a number of very important questions and we are aware in Denmark that these points from the Danish side of course are met by certain scepticism amongst some of our partners, that is not unnatural. But we want to find a solution and the solution must be acceptable to all Twelve. This also is a condition if you want the Maastricht Treaty as such, plus the addendums, to come into force somewhere, not too late, in the year 1993.

PRIME MINISTER:

As to your second question, we are seeking to get a solution, I do not know necessarily by next Tuesday, I hope we are going to have a solution by the end of the Edinburgh summit. That is certainly what we are working towards, I think there are some points that are clear right the way across the Community. As the Prime Minister said, there is no question of reopening the basic Maastricht text, there is no question of producing anything that requires reratification across Europe. Nonetheless, we think there are some ways in which we may be able to meet the particular difficulties faced in Denmark and we are working on those at the moment and discussing them with our colleagues in Europe. When that is concluded I will circulate the paper, hopefully before too long, to Denmark and right the way across the Community and that paper will be discussed in the Foreign Ministers Conclave in a few days time.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER:

That is a slightly unusual question to ask me, for this reason. If you look at the Community now there are both large nations in the Community and very small nations in the Community and I can think of no nation that has been more concerned with enlargement of the Community than my country, not just enlargement in terms of the EFTANs, the Nordic states, Austria and others, but also looking further ahead a wider Europe that moves further across Eastern Europe and in due course takes in Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia. So the British government's position is quite clear. Over time we believe the European Community should expand and we see many advantages in it expanding, not just the free trade point that came up earlier but also the important political advantages of extending both the principles of free trade but also the security that comes from interlocking trade agreements and trade interests as we extend the Community both northwards and eastwards over time. So the Community we believe is open to those nations who are European and who qualify for membership, irrespective of size.

QUESTION:

Cammal Laird Shipyard has announced that it is to close with the loss of 900 jobs, what is your reaction to that?

PRIME MINISTER:

I have not seen the detail of the announcement yet, I knew there were difficulties, but I will see the detail of the announcement before I comment if I may.

QUESTION:

Mr Kohl said today that some special rules for Great Britain and Denmark [inaudible].

MR SCHLUTER:

But Chancellor Kohl also said that he wants to cooperate in finding a solution to the Danish issue. He emphasised that in principle he did not want a Europe based on the two-speed model and I think we all agree.

PRIME MINISTER:

And he has repeated that point time and time again and has done so again this morning.

QUESTION:

Mr Major, did you find out yet when you might have the chance to ratify the treaty in your country?

PRIME MINISTER:

They are going through our Parliamentary procedures this very day, so we are moving ahead.