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1995 - Mr Major’s Comments on the Single Currency

Below is the text of Mr Major’s comments on the single currency, made in an interview on Saturday 16th December 1995.


QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if he and other European leaders had had a drink to the success of the Euro the previous night].

PRIME MINISTER:

No, we most empathically did not. We discussed a whole range of foreign affairs matters last evening, Bosnia in particular but also an extremely interesting discussion on subsidiarity - the principle that things are dealt with at a national level rather than at the European level - and European ideas have changed very dramatically on that matter since the British first raised it three years ago.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if he thought the timetable for the single currency would be met after having previously said in Essen that a single currency had been unlikely].

PRIME MINISTER:

I don’t agree with your interpretation of our Essen discussion. What I have been saying for some time is that it is very probable that a small number of countries will decide that they are ready to go ahead. What has become very clear is that it is only going to be a small number of countries that go ahead and a number of them will have to scramble in order to meet the Maastricht criteria, so that raises the important question for everyone in the European Union of what that means if a tiny number of countries go ahead and the majority do not for one thing is certain, it will fundamentally change the workings of the European Union.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked why he had said previously Britain need not worry about the single currency as it had an opt-out, but yet now he was suggesting it would change the European Union].

PRIME MINISTER:

We don’t have any need to worry about whether others go ahead in the sense of us being forced to join them. We do have the opt-out; it is an opt-out set in concrete in the treaty and unless we are prepared beyond doubt that it is in the British national interest to enter a single currency, then we will not. Almost uniquely in the European Union we have that option, others do not necessarily have that option but at this moment what we saw yesterday was a number of matters made explicit that previously were implicit with the agreement of the reference scenario, but the really important questions that we have raised of what will the future situation be with a minority going ahead have not yet been answered and I have been demanding that the European Union examine those and I expect this morning that they will accede to that demand.