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1990 - Mr Major’s Comments on the European Council

Below is the text of Mr Major’s comments on the European Council, made in Rome on Saturday 15th December 1990.


QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if he had been surprised by the progress of the European Council].

PRIME MINISTER:

I do not think I am surprised by it. I think it was a very constructive European Council and I am very pleased about that, but I am not surprised about it.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if he thought that he had been treated differently because he was new to the job].

PRIME MINISTER:

I certainly did not notice that from time to time. Some of the discussions were extremely constructive but not necessarily easy.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked whether he would consider a single currency in the future].

PRIME MINISTER:

Our policy on that is wholly clear. We have set out a practical approach towards economic and monetary union through the medium of a parallel currency, a European currency that we would call the ‘hard Ecu’.

We have always made it clear, not just now but from the very inception of this policy, that if people want it, if businesses want it and if governments want it, that could evolve to a single currency but that is the only safe economic way to a single currency; that was, is and will remain our position.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked whether that was different to Margaret Thatcher, who said no to membership].

PRIME MINISTER:

I think that is out of context, with great respect. Mrs Thatcher agreed with the policy on the hard Ecu, was very much involved with its formation and was wholly behind it.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if there would be a change in style towards Europe now that he was Prime Minister].

PRIME MINISTER:

It is substance that matters. I do not understand all this froth and puffle about style. What matters is the substance of policy; what is presented in the British interest; what is agreed in the British interest. That, at the end of the day, is what matters and that is what we are in the business to achieve - the best possible outcome for Britain and for Europe. That is exactly the view that Mrs Thatcher took, it is exactly the view I shall take.