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1992 - Mr Major’s Joint Press Conference with Professor Cavaco Silva

Below is the text of Mr Major’s joint press conference with the Portuguese Prime Minister, Professor Cavaco Silva, held in Lisbon on Tuesday 1st December 1992.


PRIME MINISTER:

It is a great pleasure to be back in Portugal and to have had the opportunity of talking again to the Prime Minister. We have had detailed discussions for a number of hours. We have spent not all but most of our time examining the important agenda for the Edinburgh summit in a few days’ time.

I think it is fair to say that the Edinburgh summit has some very crucial decisions to be taken, perhaps as wide a range of decisions many of them interlinked in one way or another as we have seen at any summit for a very long time.

The crucial decisions, of course, are the decisions to be taken to assist our friends in Denmark to be able to ratify the Maastricht Treaty and to take decisions on the crucial aspect of the future financing of the Community over the years immediately ahead but beyond that there are decisions on subsidiarity, on enlargement, on the number of members of the European Parliament and a whole range of other issues as well.

The Prime Minister and I have had the opportunity of examining all these matters, looking at them in detail, picking out the points of agreement and disagreement and considering how we might approach those matters as we move towards Edinburgh.

I think it is fair to say that there are still many difficult issues to be resolved and I still have to see a number of my European colleagues in the meetings I have before Edinburgh but slowly and gradually we are beginning to tease out the difficulties and I hope put ourselves in the position where we can reach agreements.

I do believe it is very important to reach agreement on these matters at Edinburgh. The Community needs to show the confidence it has in its future and I think that can best be shown by a satisfactory Edinburgh summit and agreement on many of these important issues. We are not there yet, talks are still continuing, but I have no doubt in all the talks I have had with every Head of Government, including the Prime Minister today, that there is a very strong will amongst all members of the European Community to find the solution to these problems at Edinburgh.

PRIME MINISTER CAVACO SILVA:

[In Portuguese].


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:

QUESTION:

Prime Minister Major, have you - following the negative reaction to your budget proposal - modified it in any way and if there are no modifications, does that mean that there will be no budget decision at Edinburgh?

PRIME MINISTER:

We are still discussing the decisions. What people have not yet seen and not yet had a chance to absorb is precisely what is meant by the budget decision, what its implications are for each individual member state.

These are very complex matters. The broad, total figures were set out in the conclave and there were some who thought they were not generous enough, there were others who thought they were too generous and there is quite a sharp division between that as you will know but what is not yet known and what we are discussing and still have to discuss is precisely the allocation within those figures on the Cohesion Fund, on the Structural Fund, on external expenditure and those are important matters of detailed negotiation that cannot be concluded until I have the views of all member states and at the moment I am about halfway round my tour.

I have the benefit of advice from a number of my European colleagues but I don't yet have the benefit of everyone's advice so it will not be until we get to Edinburgh that we can reach a final conclusion on that.

QUESTION:

Prof. Cavaco Silva, if there is no modification does that mean [indistinct].

PROFESSOR CAVACO SILVA:

[In Portuguese].

QUESTION:

Don't you agree that the British proposal for the EC budget might be a way of splitting even more the difference between rich and poor countries in the European Community?

PRIME MINISTER:

I understand why you ask that question but I think it is rather an odd way to put it. This is a compromise between those who are concerned about the levels of increased expenditure and those who would wish it to increase more and we yet have to reach a final decision upon that but if you take the Cohesion Fund, for example, the Cohesion Fund is entirely fresh and additional money - there was no Cohesion Fund before. Under the compromise proposal that the Presidency have put forward, the Cohesion Fund expenditure would rise to Ecu 12.25 billion during the period of the financial perspective and there will be increases in other areas as well.

The point at issue is not whether there are increases; the point at issue is whether there is an agreement across the Community as a whole that the increases are at the right level and are directed to the right elements of Community expenditure.

There are lots of very complex matters to be taken into account there and those are the detailed matters that I have been discussing with the Prime Minister and with others but the very purpose of the Cohesion Fund is precisely the reverse of that you implied in your question.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, will the Edinburgh summit be a failure or a success?

PRIME MINISTER:

I have lived through summits before and so has the Prime Minister and often one goes into the summit with many things unresolved and one comes out of the summit with those things resolved. I can't be clear whether that will the case this time. There are lots of very complex matters that bite very clearly upon individual national interests so clearly there are many things to be reconciled at the summit that are not done yet but the summit is some days away; everyone is committed to making it a success.

No-one is going to go in the summit and get everything they want and everyone no doubt will come out from the summit with something that they felt was very important to themselves. That is in the nature of the compromises that are a traditional part of the Community and there is no doubt in my mind that people want the summit to be a success not just for their own national reasons but because of the wider European reason of well, that Europe has had a difficult few months - we all know that, one has seen the repeated turmoil on the currency markets, one has seen the difficulties arising from the Danish and the French referenda - so the Community will itself be looking for a successful outcome at Edinburgh and if it is achievable, it will be achieved.

QUESTION:

[In Portuguese].

PROFESSOR CAVACO SILVA:

[In Portuguese].