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1996 - Mr Major’s Comments on the European Council

Below is the text of Mr Major’s comments on the European Council, made during an interview held in Dublin on Saturday 14th December 1996.


QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if it was a momentous day now that the design for the Euro banknotes was finalised].

PRIME MINISTER:

I certainly wouldn’t call it that. There was an inevitability at some stage that the EMI were going to produce their banknotes so I think there was nothing particularly momentous about that.

It is a good thing to have a stability pact. If the Euro is going to proceed, whether Britain is in it or not, it is important for Britain that it is a success and if it is to be a success we need to make sure that the rules are kept so I am delighted the stability pact agreement has been reached.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if he still thought the single currency would happen and whether he was still sceptical].

PRIME MINISTER:

It isn’t a question so much of being sceptical, it is a question of whether I believe the economic conditions can be reach in time for it to start in 1999. Everybody likes to profess great certainty that that is going to happen, that is their public position. I have to tell you that is not their private position, many of them are very worried about whether the economic circumstances will be right and they are taking in many countries very dramatic moves to try and put their own economies in order. Whether it can be done in time I believe is very questionable and if the economics are not right then it would be very unwise of them to proceed. No-one can be certain whether they will reach the criteria or not but equally, nobody could confidently predict that they certainly will.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if this summit was a moment of truth].

PRIME MINISTER:

Nothing has changed except that we are getting closer to the date on which a decision will have to be made. It is far more true to say that we are facing the moment of truth on some of the decisions in the intergovernmental conference that is expected to conclude in Amsterdam in the summer because there are competing visions of the European Union and some of the decisions that will be taken between now and Amsterdam will determine the nature of the European Union for many years ahead and they will be very difficult decisions; in that for sure a moment of truth is approaching.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if he still expected to be Prime Minister in June 1997].

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes, I expect to be here in June and I believe it is important that we maintain a position where the United Kingdom keeps its distinctive view. Some of the propositions that are before members of the European Union at the moment are very unappealing for Britain. I believe that we will have to say no to some of those and I intend to say no to some of them because I don’t believe they are in our interest. We have begun these negotiations, I look forward to concluding them.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if he thought other European leaders expected him to be Prime Minister in June 1997].

PRIME MINISTER:

You must ask them that, they have no more idea than anybody else of what will happen in the British general election but they are having to deal with me now, I expect they will have to deal with me after the general election and I have a whole series of meetings arranged with them in the early months of 1997 to discuss the issues in front of the European conference.