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1992 - Mr Major’s Joint Press Conference with Sr Felipe Gonzalez

Below is the text of Mr Major’s joint press conference with the Spanish Prime Minister, Sr Felipe Gonzalez, held in Madrid on Tuesday 1st December 1992.


SR GONZALEZ:

We welcome Prime Minister, Mr John Major, as President of the European Community and as you might imagine we have spent the past couple of hours working very hard preparing for the Edinburgh summit. I am sure that you will be very interested in listening to the Prime Minister, I would like to welcome him to Spain very warmly and give him the floor.

PRIME MINISTER:

Felipe, thank you very much indeed, it is very nice to be back in Spain again and to have had the opportunity of discussing with you this morning the agenda that we have in front of us at Edinburgh and other matters as well.

Let me say just a brief word or two about Edinburgh. We have in front of us a very important but a very complex European summit, there are perhaps more issues of importance to be decided at Edinburgh than we have had at any summit for a very long time in the Community. They include, of course, a solution to the particular problems faced in Denmark so that the Maastricht treaty can be ratified right the way across Europe, we have the difficult problem to be solved on future financing where there are very sharp differences across the Community and where we are seeking to find a compromise that is fair and acceptable to everyone, we have problems to discuss on the questions of enlargement, subsidiarity. There will be a number of important foreign policy issues - Yugoslavia of course, the former Soviet Union very probably and other issues as well.

I think this morning in my conversations with the Prime Minister we have managed to identify many areas of difficulty, we have managed to look at the details of many of the things that will come forward in Edinburgh and I think it has been a very useful and a very constructive meeting.

I am just coming up to half way in my tour of European Heads of Government to discuss Edinburgh and I will have a clearer idea of where agreements can be reached and compromises arranged at the end of this tour. Thus far I can simply say that many of the areas of agreement are becoming clearer, the areas of difficulty are beginning also to become sharper and I think to that extent we have had an extremely useful discussion again this morning and am most grateful to the Prime Minister for his hospitality.

QUESTION:

There has been a lot of criticism of the British Presidency, most recently over your compromise on the budget, has Mr Gonzalez been able to say that it will be inevitable to increase that budget, particularly on the cohesion fund, if you are to have an agreement at Edinburgh?

PRIME MINISTER:

The compromise we put forward, we have been criticised by some on the financial compromise for it being not generous enough and we have been criticised by others for it being too generous. What we have had to do in the proposals we have put forward is try and identify the areas of importance - the cohesion fund, the structural fund, external spending where there is a will in the Community to help in Eastern Europe and elsewhere - and identify the areas of priority and that is what we have sought to do.

And I think when people actually examine the detailed figures they get a rather different impression from that than they may have received earlier. As for the criticism you referred to, some of that preceded the tabling of the financial compromise and in some instances apologies, very generous apologies, have subsequently been offered and accepted by us.

QUESTION:

Could you tell us what your response has been to the request to reduce the cohesion fund included in the Delors II package?

SR GONZALEZ:

There has been a proposal by the Presidency which we consider insufficient from the budgetary point of view on the whole. We consider that the proposal made by the Commission is insufficient itself from some points of view, for example the point of view of the own resources, so it is an open discussion, we will see whether we can reach a compromise which is what we want for Edinburgh, but a compromise which will solve the Community's problems.

PRIME MINISTER:

If I may add to what the Prime Minister said, there is of course no cohesion fund at the moment, we agreed in the Maastricht negotiations that there would be a cohesion fund and we have put forward proposals as to how that cohesion fund might build up in resources between now and 1999. And again there are some proposals that are more generous than the compromise, there are others from other member states of the Community that are sharply less generous than the Presidency compromise. So it is to reach agreements upon that that I am having my discussions today with the Prime Minister and with other Heads of Government.

QUESTION:

What can we expect from Edinburgh with regard to the stability of the European Monetary System and when will the pound return to the system?

PRIME MINISTER:

We have asked officials in the Community to prepare an examination of the European Monetary System and that work is continuing. It is very complex, it is very detailed and it will go on for some time after the Edinburgh summit so I do not expect conclusions on that matter at Edinburgh and neither do I think sterling will return to the system in the immediate future.

QUESTION:

Two questions, the first for Mr Major. What are the economic consequences for the economies of the Twelve and for the markets of a possible failure of the Edinburgh summit; and Mr Gonzalez, with regard to the cohesion fund and structural funds, do you think that considering the small economic growth which Europe will undergo this year, next year and possibly in 1994 you will be willing to accept a small reduction in the Delors package?

PRIME MINISTER:

I do not anticipate us failing to agree at Edinburgh, I very much hope that we will agree at Edinburgh and I have found no contrary feeling amongst any of the Heads of Government I have met. All of us recognise the importance at Edinburgh of reaching agreement on a whole series of complex matters and I have not a shred of doubt in my mind that every Head of Government will go there determined, if it is at all possible, to reach an agreement. And the reason for that of course was implicit in your question, I think it would be damaging for the Community itself as a whole and for the economies of the Community if we were unable to reach agreement. For that reason I am optimistic that we will be able to do so.

SR GONZALEZ:

I certainly will make great efforts to reach an agreement but you have asked me about a specific matter. The Commission's proposal from the point of view of the expenses seems to me very low and from the point of view of the resources or of the contributions to the resources I think it is clearly insufficient, that is the position after a technical analysis of what would be a fair solution for our country. On that basis we will of course make every effort so that Edinburgh will be a summit which will provide results, we obviously need good results, we need to clear certain political uncertainties in the Community because those uncertainties are affecting our economic situation and the Prime Minister was telling me that this will also be a subject of discussion at the Edinburgh summit.

QUESTION:

I would like you to explain the situation of the two Spanish entrepreneurs who were given a pardon yesterday in Guinea?

SR GONZALEZ:

All I can say is that I feel it is a reasonable response, I do not think they are legally responsible for the crimes with which they have been charged. I think we must be very careful in dealing with investment efforts in a country of this nature, I do not think they have committed any errors, let alone any crimes, and so I am satisfied that they have been pardoned.